Monday, 11 November 2019

The glory of Brahman

(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.

Verse 54

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.
Verse 55
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.  

Verse 56
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.
Verse 57
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. 

Verse 58
 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.

Verse 59

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.

Verse 60
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. ------.

Verse 61
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.

Verse 62
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.

Verse 63
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.

Verse 64
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. 
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Sunday, 3 November 2019

“Vision” on Realisation

(Athma Bodha 10)




Verse 47
Samyak Vijnanavaan Yogee Swatmanyeva Akhilam Jagat I
Ekam Cha Sarvam Atmaana Eeekshyate Jnana Chakshushaa II
The Yogi of perfect realization sees through his “eye of wisdom” (Jnana Cakshu) the entire universe in his own Self, and regards everything else as his own Self and nothing else.

The yogi of realization has realized the identity of his Self with Brahman.  This realization of Brahmatvam, while revealing his true nature also brings about a change in his vision or perception. So though he continues to see the same world physically, mentally he now sees it in an entirely new perspective.  This change in perspective due to Athma Jnanam is called as eye of wisdom.  In the changed view the world that he was viewing as his supporter, now he views as being supported by his Self as Brahman. In his view he as Athma alone is real while the world that is anathma is mithya, a transactional reality only and not an absolute reality.  Though the physical eye will continue to see difference between objects and difference between himself and the objects, the eye of wisdom will visualize mentally oneness only in all of them with his Self.  For in his new perspective he sees the entire universe (Jagat) as the manifestation of his own Athma and regards everything else as his own Athma and nothing else. This changed attitude is called Sarvathma Bhava.

Verse 48

Atma eva idam Jagat sarvam Atmano Anyat na Vidyate I
Mrudo Yadvat Ghataadeeni Swatmaanam Sarvam Eekshyate II
Nothing whatever exists other than the Athma: the tangible universe is verily Athma. As pots and jars are verily made of clay and cannot be said to be anything but clay, so too, to the enlightened soul all that is perceived is the Self.

Athma as Brahman is the karanam for the universe and universe is the karyam. Being the karanam, Athma as Brahman, pervades the karyam, the universe and universe is only athma + nama, rupa.  This is illustrated through the example of pots, jars and other potteries made of clay. They come out of clay, karanam, and go back to the clay and exist as clay + name and form. They have no separate existence apart from clay which only is the substance behind them. As the Jnani has the clear understanding that Athma is his real Self and Athma is the only Reality without second he sees the entire Universe as his Self only with various names and forms.  In his vision the universe is only the finite multiplicity of names and forms projected upon the Eternal Infinite, the Athma, his Real Self.

Verse 49
Jeevan Muktastu Tat Vidvaan Poorvopaadhi Gunaan Tyajet I
Satchidananda Roopatvaat Bhavet Bhramara Keetavat. II
A liberated one, endowed with Self-knowledge, gives up the traits of his previous upadhis.  Because of his (realization of) nature of Sat-cit-ananda, he verily becomes Brahman like (the worm that grows to be) a wasp.

The realized Jnani is called here Jivan muktha. He is muktha because he is no longer bound by samsara and Jivan, as he is still living with the upadhis of bodies, which he will shed for ever when the prarabhdha karma is exhausted.  He knows he is the attributeless Athma and so feels and behaves independent of the attributes of the three sareeras, the upadhis. For instance, the properties of sthula sareeram like sex, build, old age complications etc.,; properties of sukshma sareeram like raga, dwesha etc.,; properties of karana sareeram like avidhya etc., he gives up mentally.  Though with the dawn of Jnanam, ajjnanam will drop off, dropping of abhimanam is a slow and gradual process as Sri Sankara illustrates through the example of worm transforming itself into wasp. The worm trapped in the nest transforms as wasp through constant stinging by wasp which makes the worm focus over the form and qualities of wasp.  Similarly only through continuous and concentrated meditation in Nitidyasanam, the one who has gained Brahma Vidya sheds the viparitha bhavana of anathma abhimanam and owns up mentally the Athma swarupa  that is Sat, Chit, Ananda Swarupa of Brahman.

Verse 50
Teertva Mohaarnavam Hatvaa Raaga Dveshadi Rakshasaan I
Yogee Saanti Samayuktah Atmaa Ramo Viraajate II
The Yogi, after crossing the ocean of delusion and killing the monsters of likes and dislikes, becomes united with peace and dwells in the Bliss of his own realised Self as an Athmaramah.
The epic Ramayana itself is the simile in this verse.  The spiritual journey for realization is compared to the story of Rama. Rama is the incarnation of Paramatma and His consort is Sita who stands for swarupa Santhi.  The golden deer that Rama goes hunting stands for anathma abhimanam as gold symbolizes matter. Rama loses Sita, the Santhi, going in pursuit of the golden deer.  To be united back with Sita, Rama had to cross the ocean, building bridge across it and destroying the rakshasas who stood in his way of reunion with Sita.   So a spiritual seeker who wants to regain the internal peace and bliss of Brahmatvam that has been lost in ignorance through material pursuits has to cross the ocean of delusion through the bridge of Viveka taking the help of the Guru and destroy the rakshasas of raga, dwesha, lobha, moha, madha and matsaryam to get back the peace and bliss which is his real nature as Athma and which will become again his nature when Athma jnanam is assimilated.  As Rama has also the meaning as ‘one who revels in’, every Jnani is an Athmarama as he revels in Athma alone.

Verse 51
Baahya Anitya Sukhaasaktim Hitva Atma Sukha Nirvruttah I
Ghatastha Deepavat Svasthah Swarntareva Prakaasate. II
The self abiding Jivan Mukta, relinquishing all his attachments to the illusory external happiness and satisfied with the bliss derived from the Athma, shines inwardly like a lamp placed inside a jar.
The term Athmarama, used in the earlier verse to describe the Jnani, is explained in this verse.  All joys experienced by human beings are triggered by various objects in the world and so they are spoken of as fleeting joys of the world; but all joys are derived from the Self within only and not from objects.  Giving up the desire and attachment to external objects, the Jnani finds his joy within, directly in the Self, the spring of all joy.  This state is compared to a light which is shining within the jar.  The light does not go out and shines inside only.  The Jnani’s mind does not go out to worldly objects and abides in Self only free from all delusions.  He does not exhibit externally any signs of the internal state of perennial bliss he is always enjoying but can be guessed from his total peace and calmness and the absence of any sense craving or attachment to objects etc. 

Verse 52
Upadhisthopi Tatdharmaih Alipto Vyomavanmunih I
Sarvavit Moodhavat Tishteth Asakto Vaayuvat Chareth. II
Though associated with upadhis, he, the contemplative one, remains ever unattached to them like space; though knowing everything, he may behave as a fool; or he may move about unattached like the wind.

The state of Jnani (Jeevan Mukhta) is further described in this sloka.  Though associated with the upadhis of three sareeras, he remains mentally unaffected by what affects them.  Jnani continues to be with the upadhis while at the same time he knows that these upadhis are mithya and therefore, association with them is also falsified for him.. That is what is said here with three similes in this verse; that of sky (space), that of a fool , and that of wind.  The primary simile is the one of sky. This is intended to illustrate the attribute of non-attachment.  The sky is unaffected by anything that happens in the sky; sky doesn’t get heated up because of the sun, nor does it get wet when it rains.   Similarly pleasure and pain at the physical level does not give rise to any joy or worry in the mind of the Jnani.  He is also not attached to any place or person and so he moves freely like the wind.  Since he is free from raga, dwesha etc., he does not react to praise or criticism giving ground to laymen to mistake him for a fool, which also he does not mind immersed as he is in his own internal bliss.


Verse 53
Upadhi Vilayaat Vishnau Nirvisesham Visermunih I
Jale Jalam Viyat Vyomni Tejas Tejasi Va Yatha. II
On the destruction of the Upadhis, the contemplative one is totally absorbed in ‘ Vishnu', the All pervading Spirit, like water into water, space into space and light into light

Vishnu in this verse stands for all pervading Brahman and not to Lord Mahavishnu with form and attributes.  This verse describes the Videha mukthi that Jeevan muktha attains on exhaustion of prarabhdha karma.  Sthula sareera is destroyed for the Jnani as for any ajjnani at death. The sukshma sareera, which is destroyed in pralya only for ajjnani Jiva also gets destroyed along with sthula sareera for the Jnani.  Karana sareera which is destroyed in mahapralaya only for ajjnani Jiva gets destroyed along with Sukshma, Sthula sareeras for Jnani  and the indestructible Athma becomes one with Brahman without upadhi. This is described as merging indistinguishably with Brahman and is illustrated with three examples.  The first is merger of water in the pot with water in the pond when the pot gets immersed in pond.  The second is merger of space in the pot with the space outside when the pot is broken over the ground.  The third is merger of light with light in a room with multiple lights.  With all the karmas and vasanas getting destroyed with upadhis the cycle of births and deaths also comes to an end for Jnani as he attains Brahma Nirvanam, merger with Brahman.
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Thursday, 24 October 2019

Emerging out of Ignorance

(Athma Bodha 9)




In these verses one can note a gradual shift in the standpoint from the body level to the Absolute level.

Verse 39
Atmanyeva Akhilam Drusyam Pravilaapya Dhiyaa Sudheeh I
Bhavayet Ekam Aatmaanam Nirmala Akaasavat Sadaa. II
The wise one should intelligently merge the entire world-of- objects in the Athma alone and constantly think of that Athma (Self) ever as stainless as the sky

What is described in this verse can be stated as “dissolving the world with one’s intellect.”  The world is viewed as a thought, projection within the mind and not as an external object.  Just as the dream-world has gone back and merged into the very mind that dreamt the dream, so too the world of perceptions ends in the internal experience of the Athma, the illuminator of all finite experiences.  All the finite experiences, good, bad and indifferent, do not affect the Athma, and Athma remains as pure as ever like the sky which is not contaminated by the clouds moving across it and remains ever pure.  Here the intelligence needed is the power of discrimination. Merging the visible world with Athma is by visualizing the Athma in everything perceived in the external world.

Verse 40
Roopa Varnaadikam Sarvam Vihaaya Paramaarthavit I
Paripoorna Chidananda Svaroopena Avatishtate. II
He, who has realised the Supreme, discards all his identifications with the objects of names and forms and dwells as the embodiment of the Infinite Consciousness and Bliss.

When one wakes up from the dream state, the dream world is totally destroyed to be replaced by the waking world, which is one of names and forms experienced by various senses.  In a similar way the manifested universe, the world of names and forms, which is described here as as the field of five senses is mentally destroyed for the one who has attained the state of Self-Realisation.  For him the world of names and forms has merged into the substratum, the Self and the knower of the Self as Brahman has transformed himself mentally, an embodiment of the Infinite Consciousness and Bliss, the Brahman.  Just as the dream has ended for the dreamer on waking up, so too all the perceptions of the world recognised by the waker as limited ego end when the Supreme state of Pure Consciousness is realised.

Verse 41
Jnaatru Jnaana Jneya Bhedah Pare na Atmani Vidyate I
Chidananda Eka Roopatwaat Deepyate Swayameva hi. II
Distinctions such as “Knower”, the “Knowledge” and the “Object of knowledge” do not exist in the Supreme Self. Since its nature is homogenous Consciousness and Bliss, It verily shines by Itself.

Being Non-dual, Homogeneous and Eternal, the Self cannot suffer in Itself any distinction such as the subject or the object.  Without the three fundamental factors: the subject, the object and the necessary relationship between the two called experiencing, no experience is possible in our present condition of body-intellect existence.  For the intellect is capable of perceiving only objects other than itself, and so all our knowledge is constituted by the knowledge of “things-other-than -ourselves”.   So the question arises as to how to know the Self, which is the subject and which cannot be objectified.   Here we should bear in mind no instrument of knowledge is needed to know the Self, as It is Knowledge itself and is Self-revealing like the sun which is self-illumining and shines by itself whether there is an object or not.  When the cloud of ignorance covering our understanding of the Self is dispelled through Guru Upadesa of the Scriptural knowledge, learnt through sravanam, consolidated through manam and assimilated through nitidyasanam, Athma is directly experienced as Consciousness and Bliss.  

Verse 42
Evam Aatma Aranau Dhyaana Mathane Satatam Krute I
Uditaava Gatir Jvaalaa Sarva Ajnaana Indhanam Dahet. II
When in the Arani of Self, constant churning is done in the form of meditation, fire of Knowledge is born and it completely burns up all the fuel of ignorance (in us).

Here the example of Arani Mathanam, which figures in Kaivalya Upanishad is quoted to illustrate the process of assimilation and internalization of the knowledge of Jiva Brahma Ikyam.  In the olden days for the purpose of rituals, fire was produced by churning of arani wood.  A lower arani with a scoop would be there. And an upper arani which fits into that will also be there. By churning the upper arani in the scoop of the lower arani fire was produced. Lower arani here is the anthakaranam and the upper arani is to be understood as the Mahavakhya, Aham Brahmasmi ( I am the supreme Self) and churning is the constant practice of nitidyasana, i.e. meditating on the Mahavakhyam alone, until the fire of knowledge is generated and burns down the ignorance, when the knowledge stands firmly internalized.  The same idea appears in Kaivalya Upanishad (Mantra 11) wherein it is stated “ --- by the steady, repeated practice of churning the knowledge in the mind, the wise man burns up all the cords of bondage.”

Verse 43
Arune neva Bodhena Poorva Santamase Hrute I
Tata Aavirbhavet Aatmaa Swayameva Amsumaaniva. II
As the sun appears on the destruction of darkness by dawn ( Aruna) the Divine Consciousness of the Self rises (by Itself) when the right knowledge destroys the ignorance in the bosom.

When the sun rises, the sky lightens up slowly with sky taking a reddish glow first. This is the period of dawn, heralding sunrise. Sun rises after this on its own accord, needing nothing else to illumine it. This is compared to rise of Athma jnana by itself when the darkness of ajnana is dispelled.  As Swami Chinmayananda states “When the egocentric existence in us, that obstructs the vision of the Self, is falsified by constant and diligent meditation (Nitidyasanam), the vision of the true Self arises in all its glory”.  As Athma is swayam prakasa rupaha, Athma jnanam need not illumine the intellect after dispelling the cloud of Athma ajjnanam enveloping the intellect.  As sadhana removes the darkness of ignorance, illumination of the Self happens by itself automatically.

Verse 44
Atmaatu Satatam Praapto Api Apraptavat Avidyayaa I
Tannase Praaptavat Bhaati Swa Kanthaabharanam Yatthaa II
Athma is an ever-present Reality. Yet, because of ignorance it is not realised. On the destruction of ignorance, Athma is realised. It is like the case of ‘missing’ ornament on one’s neck.

Athma is an ever present reality (Sat). This Athma is in all the states of experiences and in all beings and at all times. In fact we live because of Its illumination, but we are blind to that Divine Light and do not realize it due to ignorance, ajnanam.  On attaining Athma Jnanam one is only rediscovering the Athma, his true Self, which was all the time present in him.  This is only praptasya prapti, getting to know what you already have and not getting something new.  Sri Sankara explains this with an apt simile. A woman due to forgetfulness does not remember she is wearing the diamond necklace and searches for the necklace everywhere else other than her neck and not finding, laments its loss. When someone points out to her it is only on the neck and she feels it, then she feels happy as if she had got a new necklace.  She has thus been grieving over a thing which was not really lost and now rejoicing over the thing not really gained.  So constant and sincere sadhana has only helped us to rediscover our true Self and that is an affirmation and not an acquisition.

Verse 45
Sthaanau Purushavat Bhraantyaa Krutaa Brahmani Jeevataa I
Jeevasya Taathvike Roope Tasmin Drushte Nivartate. II
Brahman appears to be a ‘‘Jiva' because of ignorance, just as a post appears to be a ghost. This Jivahood (ego-centric-individuality) is destroyed when the real nature of the 'Jiva' is realized.

In delusion a post is imagined to be a ghost. The misapprehension of post as ghost has risen due to the non-apprehension of the post, in the first instance. Similarly on the Brahman, which is the Supreme Self and the Substratum for all, our ignorance projects our ego-centric existence, and its world of diversity. When we understand the one Truth, Brahman, behind all this multiple existence, it is like seeing the post behind the ghost.  The delusion is destroyed and the imagined Jivatvam of individual gets replaced by the
Brahmatvam of Self.  When the cause, the misconception ends, the effect, the ghost, also dissolves. When the ego-sense has ended, all that are its by-products like bondage, fear, sorrow etc., are also removed, and one feels free and fearless filled with peace and bliss.  The ‘egocentric individuality’ sees the world only as a ghost; the enlightened sage alone sees it for what it is as a post, and loses all fear or anxiety over it.

Verse 46
Tathva Swaroopa Anubhavaa Utpannam Jnaanam Anjasaa I
Aham Mameti cha Ajnaanam Baadhate Digbhramadivat. II
The ignorance characterised by the notions ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is destroyed by the knowledge produced by the realisation of the true nature of the Self, just as right information (gained in sunlight) removes the mistake regarding the directions.

Brahma Jnanam, that is Athma jnanam, destroys Brahma ajjnanam which is Athma ajnanam.  Athma ajnanam alone is the karanam for samsara and this also gets destroyed.  Sri Sankara uses here the words ahamkara and mamakara for samsara, and cites the example of a traveler in a new place who is lost in the darkness of night.   When the sun rises, the traveler identifies east and through that recognition he identifies other directions as well and goes in the right direction.   His knowledge of east has destroyed the ignorance of other directions as well.  The example shows that by the destruction of one error, other incidental errors also get destroyed. The individual getting lost in the dense darkness of Avidya or ignorance, loses his true identity as Brahman and gets knocked about in life and suffers sorrow and hardships in repeated births.  When in one birth he does scriptural studies and spiritual practices with shradda under Guru’s guidance, he gets established in the spiritual path and attains Athma Jnanam that removes Athma ajnanam and as a by-product ahamkara and mamakara are removed and he is also freed from the cycle of births and deaths. 
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Thursday, 17 October 2019

Vedantic meditation on Athma


(Athma Bodha 8)



Vedantic meditation, Nitidyasanam, is for assimilation and internalisation of Athma Jnanam of Jeeva Brahma Ikyam acquired through Sravanam and consolidated error-free through Mananam. It is a process of deconditioning the mind that has been associating ‘I’ with the body-mind complex by letting the Vedantic Jnanam of identity of ‘I’ as Brahman sink into subconscious neutralising the habitual vasanas and getting firmly established in the advaitic jnanam all the time. Vedantic Jnanam resides in one as information only without the transformation of the personality and this is achieved through the removal of habitual identifications, habitual worries, and habitual fears of insecurity which is always there deep inside. Nitidyasanam is meditation on meditator, Self, and helps replacing the word Athma and Brahman with Aham, ‘I’. In sravanam, one hears about Athma as a third party, while in Nitidyasanam one meditates on athma as ‘aham’.  “I am not anathma”; “I am not touched by the properties of anathma”; “I am not affected by the activities of anathma” is a line of thought pattern in meditation. After assimilation of Athma Jnanam, the instinctive exclamation of What?’ changes quickly to the indifference of ‘so What?’ when one encounters bad and unpleasant news and this is described as FIR reduction by Swami Paramarthananda, three letters F,I,R, standing for:
F – Frequency of negative reaction
I – Intensity of negative reaction
R – Recovery period from the after effect
This process of meditation is described in verse 38 and let us see this verse first before seeing the 6 verses from 32 to 37 wherein the thought patterns for meditation are discussed.

Verse 38
Viviktadesa aaseeno viraago vijitendriyah I
Bhaavayet ekamaatmaanam tam anantam ananyadheeh II
Sitting in a solitary place, freeing the mind from desires and controlling the senses, meditate with unswerving attention on the Athma which is One without a second.

Nitidhyasanam is where the full benefits of efforts of all earlier Sadhanas are imbibed as the richness of the Self-experience. This verse describes the procedure for Nitidyasanam as follows: One should sit in a solitary place with a mind free from desires and with sense organs under control, and meditate fixing his attention unwavering on the Athma that is infinite and one without a second.  In Gita Chapter 6, Lord Krishna discusses the Vedantic meditation wherein he states:
A Yogi should always try to concentrate his mind in meditation, remaining alone in solitude, with the mind and body controlled, without any desires and without any possessions. (6-10)
Lord Krishna goes on to describe the place and the seat as well. The place must be clean as an untidy and dirty place itself serves as a cause for mental disturbance. The seat must not be too high or too low as a high seat induces a sense of insecurity and a low seat may cause body-pain. A three layer seat is prescribed, with Kush grass, deer kin and a piece of cloth constituting the three layers. Besides being firm and soft, this seat offers protection against cold, heat and dampness. Lord then goes on to describe the posture conducive to gain and retain concentration. The meditator should keep the head, neck and the spinal column vertical to the horizontal seat so that the vertebral column is completely erect and he should be seated relaxed without moving the body in any direction. He should not look around and his gaze should be kept in the direction of the tip of the nose. After talking about external disciplines concerning body i.e. place, time, seat, and posture, Lord proceeds to expound the internal disciplines dealing with mind and intellect. He should have inner peace that comes with firm fixation of mind in the present, with no regrets for the past and no anxiety for the future. He should observe steadfastly Brahmacharya, which means not only celibacy but also self-control in all fields of sense-stimulations and sense-gratifications.

The assertions in the previous six verses, 32 to 37, are purely to assist one in meditation and are aids to meditation. Nitidyasanam is not a thought free meditation. The thoughts are in the first person taking over the qualities of Brahman on oneself. When these thoughts are deliberately practiced, Vedantic vasana is created in the subconscious mind.  It will push out all samsara vasana and all traumas, guilt and complexes. If sanga is the problem the meditation must aim at making him asangah. If feeling of apurnathvam is creating problem, meditation must focus on the purnathvam of Self. From the examples given by Sri Sankara in these verses one can choose according to one's needs. There is nothing to discuss in these verses, 32 to 37, as all these ideas are repetition in a different form of the facts discussed earlier.

Verse 32
Dehaanyatvat na me janma jara kaarsya layaadayah I
Sabdaadi vishayaih sango nireendriyatayaa na cha.II
I am other than the body and so I am free from changes such as birth, wrinkling, senility, death, etc. I have no association with the sense objects such as sound and taste, for I am without the sense-organs.
Successful meditation on these lines will enable one to get over attachment to the body and sense objects. As explained earlier, the process of discrimination is taking place by confirming one by one that 'I' is ‘not this’. First it is confirmed that, 'I' is not body or organs. By getting detachment from the body and sense-organs as one’s Self, one is able to get mentally detached from the ills and woes of body and sense-organs.

Vere 33
Amanastwaat na me dukha raaga dwesha bhayaadayah I
Apraano hi amanaassubhra ityaadi srutisaasanaat II
I am other than the mind and hence, I am free from sorrow, attachment, malice and fear.  Upanishads declare “He (the Self) is without breath, and without mind, Pure, etc,”
This line of meditation is to get detached from considering Anthakarana and Prana as Self. The thought pattern followed in meditation in this verse is ''I am not the mind and hence I am not having sorrow, attachment, malice and fear. Mind only experiences happiness and sorrow.  Upanishads also declare that Athma, my Self, is pure without mind and breath”

Verse 34
Nirguno Nishkriyo Nityo Nirvikalpo Niranjanah I
Nirvikaaro Niraakaaro Nitya Muktosmi Nirmalah.II
I am without attributes and actions, eternal, without any desire and thought, without any dirt, changeless, formless, ever liberated and ever-pure.
This line of meditation is to to get rooted in the features of Athma as one’s own. The qualities of Athma are listed and declared as one’s own. They are; Nirguna, without attributes; Nishkriya, without actions; Nithya, eternal; Nirvikalpa, without any desire or thought; Niranjana, without any dirt of vasana; Nirvikara, without any change; Nirakara, without form; Nithyamuktha, ever liberated; and Nirmala, pure without any impurity of mala

Verse 35
Aham akaasavath sarvam bahir antargato achyutah I
Sadaa sarva samas suddho nissango nirmalo achalahII
Like the space I fill all things within and without. I am changeless and the same in all and also pure, unattached, stainless and motionless at all times.
Space is one close to Athma in its features. So here one meditates ''I am like the space (Akasa). I fill all things within and without. I am changeless and the same in all. I am Pure, unattached, stainless and motionless.''

Verse 36
Nitya suddha vimuktaikam akhanda anandam advayamI
Satyam Jnanam Anantam yatparam Brahma Ahameva tat II
I am verily that Supreme Brahman which is eternal, pure and free; which is One, indivisible and non-dual; and which is of the nature of Truth-Knowledge-infinite.
Here another fact about Athma that has Its identity with Brahman who is of the nature of Sathyam, Jnanam and Anantham and is One without a second, is declared in first person. 

Verse 37
Evam nirantara abhyasta Brahmaivaasmeeti vaasanaa I
Harati avidya vikshepaan rogaaniva rasaayanam.II
The impression “I am Brahman" thus created by constant reflection destroys ignorance, and the agitation caused by it, just as medicine (rasayana) destroys disease.
Here the positive assertion of one’s Brahmathvam is the theme for meditation. The Brahmakara vritti created in intense meditation on “Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman)” over a period of time destroys ignorance (avidhya) and the agitation(vikshepa) caused by ignorance just as medicine destroys disease.
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