Tuesday, 4 April 2017

“Who am I” enquiry

Upadesa Saar –verses 16 to 20

Maharishi starts discussion on Self –enquiry in verse 16 after talking about the status of the Yogi who has attained mano-nasa through Self-enquiry, which was described as Eka-chintanam in verse 14.  Incidentally this is also start of discussion on Jnana Yoga which goes up to the end of Upadesa Saar i.e. verse 30.  He does not take the traditional path of sravanam, mananam and nitidyasanam for discussion on Jnana Yoga but plunges straight into the enquiry on Self through  the investigation of  “Who am I”.   Maharishi summarises the Self-enquiry process in verse 16, which runs as:

दृश्यवारितम् चित्तमात्मनः  | (Drishya vaaritham chittam atmanah)
चित्वदर्शनम् तत्वदर्शनम्  || (Chittva darshanam Tattva darshanam)
The mind withdrawn from sense-objects (as Self-knowledge makes one aware of the mithyathvam of sense-objects) has the vision of Consciousness which is vision of Truth.

Withdrawing the mind from objects means resolving the name and form of objects through enquiry.  When the name and form is resolved from a perceived object there appears to be blankness only.  The Pure consciousness, known as Chaitanyam, which was earlier aware of the object perceived and now of the apparent blankness is the real ‘I’, or one’s Real Self and this realisation is called the vision of Consciousness.  This is also called vision of Truth as Self- enquiry leads to Self-knowledge that Chaitanyam is one’s Real Self that makes the insentient body-mind complex sentient. From verse 17 onwards this Self-enquiry process is elaborated. Let us first see verses 17 & 18 together.  

Verse 17:

मानसं तु किं मार्गणे कृते | (Maanasam tu kim maargane krithe)
नैव मानसं मार्ग आर्जवात् || (Naiva maanasam marge arjavaath)
When a person enquires “What is the source of the mind”, he finds out that there is no mind. This is the direct path to reality.
Verse 18:
वृत्तयस्त्वहं  वृत्तिमाश्रीताः | (Vritthayasthvaham vrittim aasrithaah)
वृत्तयो मनो विद्ध्यहम् मनः || (Vrittayo manah viddhyaham manah)
Mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts.  These thoughts depend upon the I-thought alone. Hence the mind is nothing but this I-thought.

When we analyse mind and thought we find there is no mind without thought and there is no thought without mind and they are one in that mind is only a continuous flow of thoughts. The thoughts can be broadly classified into two groups; objective thoughts and subjective thoughts. Objective thoughts are those associated with the objects/persons in the outside world and they are called ‘Idam vritthi’.  Subjective thoughts relate to oneself, “I”, as the subject and are called ‘Aham vritthi’.  As objective thoughts also can exist only in relation to the subject “I” only, all the thoughts are based on “I” thought, ahamkara, only.  So enquiry into mind is reduced into enquiry into “I” thoughts and enquiry into “I” thoughts is “Who am I” enquiry.  So “Who am I” enquiry is the enquiry of “What is mind”. And enquiry into mind leads to the discovery that mind itself is mithya, like mirage-water i.e.appears to be Real, but not Real.  The external world for one is only the perception through one’s mind.  When the mind is resolved as in deep sleep there is no external world for that person. This leads to mithyatvam of the world as well. Analysing further one arrives at mithyatvam of all other than Athma, called anathma, and the identity of Jeevathma with Paramathma, who is none other than Brahman who is the one and only Absolute Reality without a second.  Maharishi does not discuss the process of enquiry but only the result of such enquiry in the next verse 19.

अहमयं कुतो भवति चिन्वतः | (Aham ayam kuto bhavathi chinvatha)
अयि पतत्यहं निजविचारनम् || (Ayi patathyaham nija vicharanam)
Ask the question: “From where does this I-thought, ego, arise?” On inquiring deeply, the I-thought will vanish. This is Self-enquiry.

Aham vritthi that was discussed in previous verse is also called ahamkara, ego.  So our travel so far had been from mind enquiry to thought enquiry to ego enquiry and the ego enquiry leads to the realisation of Real ‘I’.  It is the ego enquiry that this verse deals with.  When we enquire into “I’ thought, ego, we discover that it is only a reflection of the Real “I”, Chaitanyam, in the mirror of mind. That is why in deep sleep when the mind is resolved there is no reflection and so there is no “I” thought, even though the real “I”, Chaitanyam, is very much there, awake and aware of the absence of mind.  When one wakes up and mind starts functioning one recollects the absence of all thoughts in deep sleep.  The absence of thoughts only contributes to one’s freedom from samsara during deep sleep. So ego enquiry leads to the conclusion that ego being reflection only is not Real and only the unqualified pure consciousness, Chaithanyam, is the Real “I” and this is Self-enquiry, enquiry of one’s Real Self. The realisation of one’s Real self dos not do away with the impostor ‘I’ thought as one will continue to entertain it to transact with the world but its reactions and experiences will not emotionally affect him.  Deep down in heart he rejects the reflection and rejoices in his true Self as is explained in next verse, 20.

अहमि नाशभाज्यहमहंतया |(Ahami naasha bhaajyaham aham tayaa)
स्फुरति ह्रृत्स्वयम् परमपूर्णसत् ||(Sphurathi Hrut Svayam parama poorna sat)
When the I-thought or ego is destroyed, the real ‘I’ , pure Consciousness, shines forth in all its fullness in the spiritual Heart  as the limitless, self-shining pure Existence, Sat

Maharishi conveys in this verse that successful Self-enquiry results in one claiming the infinite and self-evident pure Consciousness as one’s true Self discarding the finite ahamkara. He will no longer see himself as the kartha and bhoktha and see himself as only the witness of actions taking place through him and not by him. Destruction of ego, ahamkara-nasa, means the destruction of the wrong notion born of ignorance that the body-mind complex with a personal history and family history, a social and official identity is ‘me’ and this ignorance is destroyed through right knowledge that the limitless infinite Athma is my true identity. The destruction of ‘I’ thought that comes through mano-nasa, removes the mirror of mind and along with it the reflection, ahamkara, leaving only the self-evident ‘I’ shine as one’s Self.  Maharishi calls Athma, Parama Purna Sat i.e limitless, totally fulfilled Pure Existence principle that is Self-evident needing no other external source to illuminate it.  So nature of Athma is pure Consciousness and pure Existence and this Sat, Chit Athma is the real “I”.  This knowledge that I am this eternal, infinite Sat, Chit Athma is Self-knowledge to which the “Who am I” enquiry leads to through mano-nasa and ahamkara-nasa.





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