Tattva Bodha – 7
Aikyam is a Sanskrit word meaning identity or sameness. Jeeva Iswara Ikyam means Jeeva and Iswara are identical. Expressed as an equation it is Jeeva=Iswara. The equation will startle any individual who knows from knowledge of oneself that Jeeva is finite, of limited knowledge (alpajna), having only limited strength (alpasakthiman), occupying even less than a mini micro-dot space in the universe (alpavyapi), a slave of maya (mayadasa), full of sorrows and problems (samsara); while on the other hand Iswara is known from the study of scriptures to be infinite, omniscient (sarvajna), all powerful (sarva sakthiman), all-pervading (sarvavyapi), master of maya (mayapathi), and is all bliss untouched by sorrows (asamsari). But this Ikyam is the central theme of Advaita Vedanta. So let us see how the seeming difference is reconciled and the identity established, in a simple manner.
An equation is possible between two entities only when they appear to be different but on analysis reveal identity as in the case of “9-4” and “3+2”. Equating both sides is not possible if they not only appear different but are also really different for then any amount of analysis cannot establish identity as in the case of “9-4” and “4+3”. And an equation is not necessary between same two entities like”9” and “9”.
On the face of it the omniscient, omnipotent, all-pervading, mayapathi, infinite, asamsari Iswara cannot be the same as alpasakthiman, alpajna, alpavyapi, mayadasa, finite, samsari Jeeva as both appear totally different. So to explore the identity let us analyse and find the essential nature of each of them.
We had seen earlier in the blog on Avastha thriam that a human being has three states of experience, waking state, dream state and deep sleep state. In waking state all three bodies gross, subtle and causal are active and he is called Viswa. In dream state only subtle and causal bodies are active and he has the name Taijasa. In causal state only causal body is active and he has the name Prajna. We can say Viswa, Taijasa and Prajna are three dimensions of human personality. Mandukya Upanishad states that besides these three dimensions, there is a fourth dimension to human personality which it simply calls as fourth and says that is the Athma.
“चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते स आत्मा स विज्ञेयः॥ (chathurtham manyanthe sa Athma sa vijvijneyaha) - Considered the fourth this is Athma and this is to be realised”.
In the Mandukya Karika, Gaudapada calls it Turiya. This Turiya is not a name for a separate state as this is the Athma only, which is present in all three states blessing Viswa, Taijasa and Prajna. Jeeva is this Athma but in Self-ignorance, he considers himself as Viswa, Taijasa and Prajna depending upon the state he is in. This Athma is the essential nature of Jeeva. And Athma is the infinite, all-pervading, omniscient, eternal Consciousness principle. So in a nutshell the essential nature of Jeeva is the Consciousness principle.
Iswara is Brahman with maya sakthi, that functions through prapancha thriam; sthula, sukshma, karana prapanchas which are also matter only. So the essential nature of Iswara is Brahman which is also the infinite, all-pervading, omniscient eternal Consciousness principle only. So the essential nature of Jeeva as well as Iswara is Consciousness principle only and on that basis their identity is established.
We can illustrate it with an example. Waves rise and fall in the ocean. Some waves are big, some small, some are short-lived and some comparatively long-lived. Compared to the waves ocean is vast and it is also the srishti, sthithi, laya karanam for waves as they rise in it, are sustained by it and perish in it. So superficially looking they cannot be equated. But if you take their essence, wave in essence is water defined by the chemical formula H2O and essence of ocean is also water with the same chemical formula of H2O. So looking from the angle of their essence we can pronounce the wave –ocean-identity.
Now a doubt may arise that if Jeeva’s essential nature is omniscient all-powerful ever-in-bliss Brahman why one is not aware of it anytime during one’s life. It is because of maya’s powers that one is not only aware of one’s blissful Brahmatvam but also in Self-ignorance mistakenly considers oneself as a miserable samsari jeeva. Maya has two powers; avarana sakthi, the veiling power and vikshepa sakthi, projecting power. Under the spell of the avarana sakthi Jeeva is ignorant of his true nature as Brahman and under the influence of the vikshepa sakthi Jeeva mistakenly considers that he is the body-mind complex with a particular name and form. Because of this mistake of identifying himself with the body-mind complex, he suffers from all the ills and woes that body and mind are prone to. When he realizes through self-knowledge, his own Real nature as Athma, he becomes a Jeevanmuktha, and is unaffected mentally by the ills and woes of the body and mind.
This identity translates into Jeeva-Brahma Ikyam, when we consider jeeva shorn of upadhi, limiting adjunct, of bodies, which is Athma and Athma is the name for Brahman in microcosm. Brahman and Athma are only two names for the same entity one in the context of macrocosm and the other in the context of microcosm, as one who is referred to as C.E.O in office is called Beta, son, by his father at home. The statements in the Vedas that spell out this Ikyam are called Mahavakhyas, important statements. Other Vedic statements that talk about Brahman without referring to Ikyam are called avanthara vakhya, ordinary statement. One famous Mahavakhya which is often quoted is “तत् त्वं असि” (Tat tvam asi), - you are That, you standing for jeeva and That for Brahman, which occurs nine times in chapter six of Chandogya Upanishad of Sama Veda. This Mahavakhya is discussed in detail in my earlier blog titled "Mahavakhya"
This knowledge of Ikyam is called Athma Jnanam and is the end goal in the quest for Self-knowledge or the quest for knowledge of “Who am I’. This is achieved through the sadhanas of Jnana Yoga; Sravanam, Mananam and Nidhidyasanam. Let us see briefly the benefits that this knowledge confers on one who is firmly established in the knowledge that he is not any of the three bodies but the Pure Consciousness behind them all.
1) He enjoys emotional independence as he is not emotionally disturbed by the presence of problems or absence of comforts in the life’s set-up and accepts with a sense of detachment all that life has to offer in pairs of opposites like loss and gain, pain and pleasure, union and separation, heat and cold etc.
2) He develops emotional strength to face undisturbed all life’s challenges.
3) He enjoys a sense of fullness, purnatvam, that gives complete peace and tranquillity as he has no compelling wants or desires
4) He attains Videha Mukthi on death, liberated from the cycle of birth and death.