[Advaita-l] advaita vEdAnta Unit (3)
puttakrishna at verizon.net
Wed Jan 3 10:00:28 CST 2007
In Unit 2, we studied the role of karma in the cycle of births and deaths;
Desire is the driver of the karma that impels jIva in the cycle of births
The Rishis of sanAtana dharma have devised an exit strategy for a jIva to
escape from the
cycle of the law of karma. This strategy is a four step preparatory process
called "sAdhana chatushTaya" -
a four step spiritual discipline, followed by shravaNa (study of
manana (living the scriptures) and nidhi-dhyAsana (deep meditation on
The four step preparatory process is
1. vivEka (discrimination of Real from unreal).
2. vairAgya (detachment or dispassion from sense objects)
3. shamAdi shat sampatti ( a collective group of six behavior traits)
4. mumukshtva ( intense desire to achieve permanent bliss).
The sAdhana chatushTaya is described by BhagavAn Shankara in VivEka
ChUDAmaNI as follows;
' Adou nitya-anitya vastu vivEkah parigaNyatE
iha-amutra phalabhOga virAgah tadanantaram
shamAdi shatka sampittih mumukshatvam iti sphuTam " - Verse 19.
The first discipline is the discrimination between the Real and unreal.
The next discipline is the detachment or dispassion from the enjoyments of
here and after death (heaven). The third discipline is the practice of the
traits - shama, dama, uparati, samAdhAna, shradda and titIksha; the fourth
is the intense desire for escape from this samsAra or realization of the
divinity in her or him.
The order in which they are stated is also very important as we discuss
The first step is to understand what is Real (nitya) and what is unreal
The mind generates several thoughts. The thoughts are debated internally in
Intellect helps the individual to sort out the thoughts into right (of
or wrong (not of any value). Accepting the useful one
and rejecting the useless is the discrimination faculty (vivEka).
Any entity that undergoes change in time and space is unreal or anitya.
An entity that remains unaffected in time and space is permanent and is
called Real or Nitya.
In the context of jIva, jagat and Iswara (Brahman - Brahman is the vEdAntic
Iswara or God, not to be confused with the four headed creator brahmA),
it is our experience that jIva and Jagat are affected by space and time;
so they are anitya. The shruti declares that Iswara is unaffected by time
space (we have to accept the shruti here, since we do not have the ability
he nature of Iswara at this time) and hence is classified as Real.
This understanding that Brahman is the only Real entity and everything else
is unreal is viVeka.
This is the first discipline in the pursuit of realization of Divinity.
The second discipline is the detachment or dispassion from the objects
around us, as these are unreal.
Obviously if the seeker has firmly accepted Brahman as the Real and
everything else is unreal, this
leads to the second discipline of vairagya or dispassion towards those
unreal entities. This is possible
only if the seeker has developed vivEka as discussed above (for example if
we have the discrimination
that spicy food is not good to our health, we obviously are indifferent
towards spicy food
and develop detachment from it). Thus vivEka leads to vairAgya.
That is why vivEka is prescribed ahead of vairgya. The dispassion in the
karma-phala (fruits of action ) in this life and after death-heaven - is the
follows from discrimination, since these are not lasting; The fruits of
finite karma are also finite and return from heaven to take another life is
inevitable ( kshINE puNye
marthya lOkam vishanti -after the good deeds are exhausted, the individual
returns to life of
mortals , gIta, 9-21). The seeker having understood the temporary nature of
all kinds of happiness
derived from unreal entities, has to develop dispassion from such temporary
The seeker's determination to develop dispassion is challenged continuously
by the sense organs'
attraction towards sense objects. The third discipline - collection of six
traits - is the
next step in the preparatory process to fight the challenge of the sense
objects. They are
(1) shama - Control of the mind away from sense objects, and focusing on the
(2) dama - The sense organs are directed outwards, toward the sense objects;
so they naturally seek out sense objects. Diverting the sense organs and
organs of action
away from the sense objects is dama. dama is complimentary to shama in that
, success in dama enhances shama.
(3) uparati - giving up desire oriented actions or karma; It is our common
experience that we seek out
activities that are helpful to us and avoid activities that are not helpful
or hurtful to us. Desire
oriented karma is not helpful to seeking Brahman. Therefore a seeker of
Brahman has to give up desire
(4) titIksha - is the forbearance. cultivating the ability to tolerate the
dualities of life, like heat and cold
pain and pleasure, profit and loss, friend and foe, honor and disgrace etc.
These dualities are a part of life. Spiritual discipline becomes impossible
by being agitated by these dualities.
BhagavAn Shankara describes titIksha wonderfully in vivEka chUDAmaNi as
' sahanam sarva dukhAnAm apratIkAra pUrvakam
chintA vilApa rahitam sA titIkshA nigadyatE ' - verse 24
When various kinds of pain afflict a person, ability to forbear that pain
without any remedial action
and remaining unworried is tiIksha.
(5) shraddhA - The nature of Brahman cannot be understood by inference or
any physical or mental
effort. Brahman has to be understood only through shruti. Shankara describes
ShraddhA as unwavering
faith in the statements of shruti and guru ( a true teacher will only quote
from authoritative shrutis)
(6) samAdhAna - Seating the mind firmly in Brahman is samAdhAna. Cuddling
the mind with desired
objects is not samAdhAna.
The above six behavioral traits are collectively called "shamAdi
shat-sampatti" (six attributes). These
are generally complementary to each other. Gaining strength in one will
enhance the ability of the
Now where to begin on the practice of these six traits ? Shankara, in Bhaja
describes in very simple terms, the practice of these six traits in the
" sat sangatvE nissangatvam, nissngatvE nirmOhatvam
nirmOhatvE nischala tatvam, nischala tatvE jIvana muktih " - Divine company
will help cultivate
detachment and dispassion, detachment will eliminate delusion of mind. When
mind is free from delusion, a clear
and firm understanding will prevail, which takes a person towards freedom
from the cycle of samsAra.
This is the opposite (and positive) path of the gIta verse we reviewed in
" dhyAyatO vishayAn pumsah....". In contrast to the description there of how
the desires will cause
a jIva to perish in the cycle of births and deaths, the divine company
suggested here will lead the jIva towards freedom.
Now what is a divine company? Any congregation that praises the glory of God
is a divine company-
like bhajan singing, vEda chanting, puja services at home or temple etc.
This is where we begin the
practice of the six disciplinary traits. A totally dispassionate person will
accept outcomes of all actions
as God's prasAd. He clearly understands that God facilitates success or
failure, as stated in gIta 18.-14;
" adhiShTAnam tathA kartA karaNam cha prithak vidham
vividhAscha prithak chEShTA daivam cha Eva atra panchamam" - In the
accomplishment of karma, the
five factors determining outcome are (1) the body or seat of action, (2)
the doer, (3) the various sense organs
and organs of action, (4), various functions and (5) the presiding deity
being the fifth.
When this conviction becomes firm, he is neither elated when success comes
his way nor worries
if he meets failure (na prahriShyEt priyam prApya nO dvijEt prApya cha
apriyam -gIta 5-20).
The impact of desire or dispassion on an individual is illustrated in Figure
The desires takes the individual towards destruction,
while the dispassion takes the individual towards liberation.
The infatuation with desire is interestingly described by D.V. Gundappa in
the Kagga as follows;
" bEku bEkadu bEku bEkidena-ginnodu
bEkenuta bobbiDutaliha ghaTavanidanu
Ekendu rachisidanO bommanI bEku japa
sAkenipu-dendigelO mankutimma "
---I want that, I want this and I want that other
this body which hangs on to a continuous howl of wants
why ever the creator made it - this incantation (japa) of wants
when is it we would feel that we have enough - Thimma?
Such an avalanche of desires will not dry out at our will and an
immediate total dispassion may not be possible;
The seeker tempers his desires and incrementally practices dispassion; over
a course of time,
the desires subside and dispassion grows, ultimately eliminating desires and
firmly established in dispassion.
This incremental growth is illustrated in Figure 3 at
during the early years (or lives), desire and dispassion coexist, desire
trying to raise over dispassion.
As he progresses in dispassion , desire subsides and is eventually
eliminated, paving the way
for the next step of the discipline, the intense desire for liberation
(while desire for sense
objects is a road block for liberation, desire for liberation itself is not
The fourth and final discipline is the mumukshtva - intense desire to exit
the wheel of samsAra or the
cycle of birth and death. This is one desire that a seeker will find useful
in pursuit (unlike all other
desires of objects around us). One of Sri Ramakrishna's disciple was
pursuing spiritual discipline, but
he was unable to make much progress. One day he asked Sri Ramakrishna why he
has been failing.
Sri Ramakrishna asked him to follow him and led him in to the middle of the
Ganges river. Right there
with the water up to their chest level, Sri Ramakrishna placed his both
hands on the head of the
Disciple and pressed him into water totally immersing him. He held him there
for a few seconds
or so and released him. As the disciple came above water, the teacher asked
the student - what was one
intense thought in your mind during the time I had you in water, for which
the student replied; I was
intensely praying that you release your hand away from my head, so that I
can breathe. Sri
Ramakrishna, then replied- "your desire for mOksha should be so intense for
you to make progress".
These four disciplines are the pre-requisites, called "adhikAra" for
understanding and experiencing the nature of
Brahman. These disciplines constantly practiced will prepare the seeker for
spiritual realization. The
disciplinary steps will cleanse the mind of all sense objects and prepare
the mind for the steps of
sAdhana - shravaNa, manana and nidhdhyAsana.
There are another two or three preparatory concepts we will review
before we take up the study of Jagat.
Om shAntih shAntih Om shAntih
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