[Advaita-l] Some thoughts on the nature of bliss
agnimile at gmail.com
Mon Feb 27 08:08:26 EST 2017
There was a recent discussion in the group whether as a jnAni enjoys the
world's bliss, he would also suffer the world's sorrow too.
In this regard, the bhAshya to the shAkalya brAhmaNam of the brihadAraNyaka
upanishad (3.9), has an interesting discussion on the nature of Atma
In the last mantra of this section, 126.96.36.199, in considering the meaning of
the words "विज्ञानमानन्दं ब्रह्म" in the shruti, shankara bhagavatpAda
starts a very profound discussion on what is bliss in relation to Brahman.
अत्रेदं विचार्यते — आनन्दशब्दो लोके सुखवाची प्रसिद्धः - Here we commence
this discussion - in common parlance, the word "Ananda" is used to refer to
अत्र च ब्रह्मणो विशेषणत्वेन आनन्दशब्दः श्रूयते आनन्दं ब्रह्मेति - here the
word "Ananda" is used as an adjective of Brahman
श्रुत्यन्तरे च — ‘आनन्दो ब्रह्मेति व्यजानात्’ (तै. उ. ३ । ६ । ९) ‘आनन्दं
ब्रह्मणो विद्वान्’ (तै. उ. २ । ९ । १) ‘यदेष आकाश आनन्दो न स्यात्’ (तै. उ. २
। ७ । १) ‘यो वै भूमा तत्सुखम्’ (छा. उ. ७ । २३ । १) इति च ; ‘एष परम आनन्दः’
इत्येवमाद्याः ; Elsewhere in shruti too, "He knew Ananda to be Brahman"
(Tai 3.6), "Knowing the bliss of Brahman" (Tai 2.9), "If this Ananda
(Brahman) were not in the heart-space" (Tai 2.7) , "That which is bhUma is
bliss" (Ch 7.23), "This is its highest Ananda" (Br. 4.3.32), etc.
संवेद्ये च सुखे आनन्दशब्दः प्रसिद्धः ; Experiential pleasure is the
commonly accepted meaning of the word "Ananda"
ब्रह्मानन्दश्च यदि संवेद्यः स्यात् , युक्ता एते ब्रह्मणि आनन्दशब्दाः । If
Brahma Ananda were also to be experiential, then it would be appropriate
for the usage of the word Ananda in the context of Brahman
ननु च श्रुतिप्रामाण्यात् संवेद्यानन्दस्वरूपमेव ब्रह्म, किं तत्र विचार्यमिति
- Objection: Is it not obvious from shruti pramANa that it is experiential
Ananda that is the nature of Brahman, what is there to discuss?—
न, विरुद्धश्रुतिवाक्यदर्शनात् Not so, because there are other shruti
statements that indicate a contrary position
— सत्यम् , आनन्दशब्दो ब्रह्मणि श्रूयते ; विज्ञानप्रतिषेधश्च एकत्वे True,
the word Ananda in those statements refers to Brahman, however elsewhere
there experience / knowledge is denied to teach the one-ness of Brahman
— ‘यत्र त्वस्य सर्वमात्मैवाभूत् , तत्केन कं पश्येत् , तत्केन किं
विजानीयात्’ (बृ. उ. ४ । ५ । १५) ‘यत्र नान्यत्पश्यति नान्यच्छृणोति
नान्यद्विजानाति स भूमा’ (छा. उ. ७ । २४ । १) ‘प्राज्ञेनात्मना सम्परिष्वक्तो
न बाह्यं किञ्चन वेद’ (बृ. उ. ४ । ३ । २१) इत्यादि ; For example, "When to
the one for whom everything has become his Self, then what shall we he see,
and with what instrument, what shall he know and with what instrument?" (Br
4.5.25), "Where nothing else is seen, nothing else is heard, nothing else
is known, that is bhUma, Brahman" (Ch 7.24.1), "Fully embraced by the Self
he knows no thing outside" (Br 4.3.21), etc
विरुद्धश्रुतिवाक्यदर्शनात् तेन कर्तव्यो विचारः । Therefore, because there
are apparently contradictory shruti statements, further enquiry is
तस्मात् युक्तं वेदवाक्यार्थनिर्णयाय विचारयितुम् । Therefore some
consideration is appropriate in order to determine the true purport of
these vedic sentences.
मोक्षवादिविप्रतिपत्तेश्च — साङ्ख्या वैशेषिकाश्च मोक्षवादिनो नास्ति मोक्षे
सुखं संवेद्यमित्येवं विप्रतिपन्नाः ; अन्ये निरतिशयं सुखं स्वसंवेद्यमिति ॥
Further, there is disagreement between various systems of philosophy that
speak of liberation - sAnkhya / vaisheShika advocates of liberations claim
that there is no experiential joy in liberation, whereas others claim that
there is unsurpassed joy experienced in liberation.
किं तावद्युक्तम् ? What is the right position?
The opponent's view:
आनन्दादिश्रवणात् ‘जक्षत्क्रीडन्रममाणः’ (छा. उ. ८ । १२ । ३) ‘स यदि
पितृलोककामो भवति’ (छा. उ. ८ । २ । १) ‘यः सर्वज्ञः सर्ववित्’ (मु. उ. १ । १ ।
९)‘सर्वान्कामान्समश्नुते’ (तै. उ. २ । ५ । १) इत्यादिश्रुतिभ्यः मोक्षे सुखं
संवेद्यमिति । In liberation, there is joy to be experienced - so say shruti
vAkyas that mention bliss: "Laughing, playing and enjoying" (Ch 8.12.3),
"If he (the enlightened one) desires to exprience the bliss of pitrs (by
his mere wish he gets these pleasures)" (Ch 8.2.1), "He who is all knowing
(both directly in a specialised way, and indirectly in a general way)" (Mu
1.1.9), "He attains all pleasures at once" (Tai 2.5.1)
Objection: ननु एकत्वे कारकविभागाभावात् विज्ञानानुपपत्तिः,
क्रियायाश्चानेककारकसाध्यत्वात् विज्ञानस्य च क्रियात्वात् - Is knowledge not
impossible where there is oneness, since the various factors of action are
absent, for every action requires various factors and knowledge too is an
action (knower, thing known, instrument, etc).
Opponent's view: — नैष दोषः ; शब्दप्रामाण्यात् भवेत् विज्ञानमानन्दविषये ;
‘विज्ञानमानन्दम्’ इत्यादीनि आनन्दस्वरूपस्यासंवेद्यत्वेऽनुपपन्नानि
वचनानीत्यवोचाम । That is not a fault, for it is from shabda pramANa that we
know that knowledge of the bliss of Brahman is possible. Sentences such as
"Knowledge, Bliss" etc shall be rendered meaningless if the experience of
bliss in Brahman is impossible.
Objection: ननु वचनेनापि अग्नेः शैत्यम् उदकस्य च औष्ण्यं न क्रियत एव,
ज्ञापकत्वाद्वचनानाम् ; न च देशान्तरेऽग्निः शीत इति शक्यते ज्ञापयितुम् ;
अगम्ये वा देशान्तरे उष्णमुदकमिति But even if there are shruti sentences
such as these, they cannot turn fire cold or water hot - because the power
of sentences is in their ability to convey information (not their ability
to perform an action). Nor can sentences inform us that in some other
country fire is cold, or in some other place where we are not able to
visit, water is hot.
Opponent's view: — न, प्रत्यगात्मन्यानन्दविज्ञानदर्शनात् ; Not so, because
we do have experience of bliss and knowledge in our individual self. न
‘विज्ञानमानन्दम्’ इत्येवमादीनां वचनानां शीतोऽग्निरित्यादिवाक्यवत्
प्रत्यक्षादिविरुद्धार्थप्रतिपादकत्वम् । Further, sentences such as
"Knowledge, Bliss" etc, do not contradict direct perception whereas
sentences like "fire is cold" etc do अनुभूयते तु अविरुद्धार्थता ; सुखी अहम्
इति सुखात्मकमात्मानं स्वयमेव वेदयते ; तस्मात् सुतरां
प्रत्यक्षाविरुद्धार्थता ; In fact we directly observe non contradiction
here - the experience of bliss in the self is directly known by oneself
when one feels ""I am happy". Therefore, non-contradiction with perception
is very clear. तस्मात् आनन्दं ब्रह्म विज्ञानात्मकं सत् स्वयमेव वेदयते ।
Therefore, Brahman which is Ananda, being knowledge also, knows itself.
तथा आनन्दप्रतिपादिकाः श्रुतयः समञ्जसाः स्युः ‘जक्षत्क्रीडन्रममाणः’
इत्येवमाद्याः पूर्वोक्ताः ॥ Thus, shruti vAkyas stated previously such
"Laughing, playing enjoying" etc., that postulate the experiencability of
bliss in the self are appropriate.
न, कार्यकरणाभावे अनुपपत्तेर्विज्ञानस्य If this is the view, we say: not so,
because in the absence of a body mind complex, knowledge is impossible.
— शरीरवियोगो हि मोक्ष आत्यन्तिकः ; शरीराभावे च करणानुपपत्तिः, आश्रयाभावात्
; ततश्च विज्ञानानुपपत्तिः अकार्यकरणत्वात् ; Liberation is ultimately a
complete detachment with respect to the body. Without a body, associated
organs necessary for knowledge are unavailable, for they need a body as
their residence. Without the organs of knowledge, knowledge is impossible.
देहाद्यभावे च विज्ञानोत्पत्तौ सर्वेषां कार्यकरणोपादानानर्थक्यप्रसङ्गः ।
For, if knowledge were possible in the absence of a body, there would be no
necessity to possess a body-mind complex.
एकत्वविरोधाच्च Further, it will be in contradiction with the absolute
oneness of Brahman.
Objection: — परं चेद्ब्रह्म आनन्दात्मकम् आत्मानं नित्यविज्ञानत्वात्
नित्यमेव विजानीयात् , What if we say that the supreme Brahman being of the
nature of eternal knowledge, eternally knows itself as Ananda?
Reply: तन्न ; संसार्यपि संसारविनिर्मुक्तः स्वाभाव्यं प्रतिपद्येत ; Not so,
for a samsAri when freed from samsAra would also gain his true nature too.
(That being so, and if your argument were true, he should have always
experienced Ananda, even in samsAra).
जलाशय इवोदकाञ्जलिः क्षिप्तः न पृथक्त्वेन व्यवतिष्ठते
आनन्दात्मकब्रह्मविज्ञानाय ; Like the water from a palm thrown into a tank,
he does not have a separate existence from Brahman to experience bliss.
तदा मुक्त आनन्दात्मकमात्मानं वेदयत इत्येतदनर्थकं वाक्यम् । Therefore it is
meaningless to argue that a liberated man experiences the bliss of Brahman.
अथ ब्रह्मानन्दम् अन्यः सन् मुक्तो वेदयते, प्रत्यगात्मानं च,
अहमस्म्यानन्दस्वरूप इति ; तदा एकत्वविरोधः ; If on the contrary, if it is
held that the liberated man being different from Brahman, experiences the
bliss of Brahman and the individual self as "I am the Ananda svarUpa", then
the absolute oneness of Brahman is contradicted.
तथा च सति सर्वश्रुतिविरोधः । This would also contradict all shruti vAkyas.
तृतीया च कल्पना नोपपद्यते । There is no other third alternative apart from
the above two (i.e a liberated man either has to be the same as Brahman, or
different from it, there is no third option).
किञ्चान्यत् , ब्रह्मणश्च निरन्तरात्मानन्दविज्ञाने
विज्ञानाविज्ञानकल्पनानर्थक्यम् ; Moreover, if Brahman were to eternally
know its own bliss, it would be meaningless to talk of awareness of its
bliss and non-awareness of its bliss.
निरन्तरं चेत् आत्मानन्दविषयं ब्रह्मणो विज्ञानम् , तदेव तस्य स्वभाव इति
आत्मानन्दं विजानातीति कल्पना अनुपपन्ना ; If it were an eternal awareness of
its own bliss, then that would be its very nature, so there would be no
sense in the view that it knows its own bliss.
अतद्विज्ञानप्रसङ्गे हि कल्पनाया अर्थवत्त्वम् , यथा आत्मानं परं च वेत्तीति;
For such a view would only be meaningful if there was a possibility that it
did not know its own bliss at some times, such as a person knows himself
न हि इष्वाद्यासक्तमनसो नैरन्तर्येण इषुज्ञानाज्ञानकल्पनाया अर्थवत्त्वम् ।
Like, it would be meaningless to distinguish between awareness and
non-awareness in the example of a man who was focusing uniterruptedly on an
अथ विच्छिन्नमात्मानन्दं विजानाति Now, if the knowledge of its own bliss was
an interrupted one (ie it was not an eternal awareness of its own bliss) —
विज्ञानस्य आत्मविज्ञानच्छिद्रे अन्यविषयत्वप्रसङ्गः when it was not knowing
itself, it must have known something else (and that is impossible, there
being nothing else other than Brahman); आत्मनश्च विक्रियावत्त्वम् ,
ततश्चानित्यत्वप्रसङ्गः । further this would imply a change in Brahman
(knowing itself at some time, and not knowing itself in other times),
thereby Brahman would become anitya, impermanent
तस्मात् ‘विज्ञानमानन्दम्’ इति स्वरूपान्वाख्यानपरैव श्रुतिः,
नात्मानन्दसंवेद्यत्वार्था । Therefore, "Knowledge, Bliss" in this mantra is
to refer to the nature of Brahman as Ananda, and not to imply an
experiential Ananda in Brahman
‘जक्षत्क्रीडन्’ (छा. उ. ८ । १२ । ३) इत्यादिश्रुतिविरोधोऽसंवेद्यत्व इति
चेन्न, सर्वात्मैकत्वे यथाप्राप्तानुवादित्वात् If it were to be argued that
shruti vAkyas such as "Laughing, playing)" etc, would be contradicted if
the Ananda was a non-experiential one, then, the reply would be not so:
— मुक्तस्य सर्वात्मभावे सति यत्र क्वचित् योगिषु देवेषु वा जक्षणादि
प्राप्तम् ; तत् यथाप्राप्तमेवानूद्यते — तत् तस्यैव सर्वात्मभावादिति
सर्वात्मभावमोक्षस्तुतये । It would not be a contradiction, because that
shruti vAkya is only describing what happens normally as a result of the
sarvAtmatva bhAva of the liberated man. Because such a liberated one
identifies himself with all, wherever there is laughter - be it in gods,
yogis, etc - this man identifies that with himself. This is but a stuti, a
eulogy, of the sarvAtma bhAva of liberation.
Objection: यथाप्राप्तानुवादित्वे दुःखित्वमपीति चेत् — योग्यादिषु
यथाप्राप्तजक्षणादिवत् स्थावरादिषु यथाप्राप्तदुःखित्वमपीति चेत् If it is
said that what happens normally is being described in shruti, misery also
happens normally. Can we say that like the liberated man enjoys the
laughter of the yogis, he also suffers the misery of all things, from a
blade of grass on?
Reply: — न, नामरूपकृतकार्यकरणोपाधिसम्पर्कजनितभ्रान्त्यध्यारोपितत्वात्
सुखित्वदुःखित्वादिविशेषस्येति परिहृतमेतत्सर्वम् । Not so, all these have
been refuted already by saying that experiential joy and misery are
superimpositions born out of the delusion created by the association of the
self with the body mind complex upAdhis, which are the creations of name
and form. (the bhAshya to 2.1.20 is being referred to here, तस्मात्
नामरूपोपाधिनिमित्ता एव आत्मनि असंसारधर्मिणि सर्वे व्यवहाराः)
विरुद्धश्रुतीनां च विषयमवोचाम । We have also said what the purport of the
seemingly contradictory shruti passages are (In the bhAshya for Br 2.2.15,
स एष विद्वान् ब्रह्मवित् सर्वोपाधिः सर्वात्मा सर्वो भवति ; निरुपाधिः
निरुपाख्यः अनन्तरः अबाह्यः कृत्स्नः प्रज्ञानघनः अजोऽजरोऽमृतोऽभयोऽचलः नेति
नेत्यस्थूलोऽनणुरित्येवंविशेषणः भवति । तमेतमर्थम् अजानन्तस्तार्किकाः केचित्
पण्डितम्मन्याश्चागमविदः शास्त्रार्थं विरुद्धं मन्यमाना विकल्पयन्तो
मोहमगाधमुपयान्ति । This wise man, the knower of Brahman, identifies himself
with all upAdhis, is the self of all and becomes all. He is without any
upAdhis too. He is unnameable, devoid of interior or exterior, he is
everything, he is pure intelligence, he is without birth, without decay,
without death, without fear, immoveable, he is to be described as not this,
not this, neither gross nor subtle. Not knowing this as the true import of
shruti, certain logicians, calling themselves scholars, interpret these
shruti vAkyas as being contradictory, and fall into the pit of delusion by
attempting fanciful interpretations to reconcile them).
तस्मात् ‘एषोऽस्य परम आनन्दः’ (बृ. उ. ४ । ३ । ३२) इतिवत्
सर्वाण्यानन्दवाक्यानि द्रष्टव्यानि ॥ Thus all the sentences that talk about
Ananda as Brahman need to be interpreted like the sentence "This is its
supreme bliss" (Br 4.3.32).
What is very clear from the above passage is that the the nature of Brahman
is Ananda, but that is not an experiential bliss - it is Brahman's svarUpa.
When shruti is talking of the liberated one enjoying the bliss of the
entire of creation, that is a stuti, a eulogy, for such a one does not see
others as any different from himself - it is a statement not to be taken
literally. Therefore, the question whether he experiences their sorrow must
be answered in the negative too. For such a one disassociates every
experience, every knowledge as arising due to the association of the self
with nAma rUpa upAdhi. That being so, what to talk of experiential joy or
sorrow - be it his own, or others'?
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