Advaita Bhakti thro. Contemplative Practice of Narayaniyam (ABCPN - 10)

V. Krishnamurthy profvk at YAHOO.COM
Fri Dec 6 10:20:30 CST 2002

ABCPN - 10
Note: Please read the Introduction
(ABCPN – 0) if you have not already read it.

Sloka No. 28 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 98 - 6):

satven-AsattayA vA na khalu  sad-asatvena nirvAcya-rUpA
dhatte yA sAv-avidyA guNa-phaNi-mativad-vishvadR^ishyAva-bhAsaM /
vidyAtvaM  saiva yAtA shruti-vacan-lavair-yatkR^ipA-syanda-lAbhe
samsAr-AraNya-sadyaH struTana-parashutAM eti tasmai namaste //

Tr. Ignorance (avidyA) which cannot be described either as existing or non-
existing or as a combination of the two, apparently manifests, just like
the snake seen on the rope, this whole world of objectivity (along with
the sense of identification of the ‘self’ with aspects of it like the
body, mind, etc.). But when the current of Thy Grace sets in, this avidyA
itself gets transformed into vidyA (Knowledge) which, with the help of a
few drops of the vedic declaration, becomes a veritable axe for clearing
the forest of samsAra.

Comment. The term ‘avidyA’ is the veiling of the Self. It is not just
absence of vidyA, knowledge. It is the consciousness ‘I do not know’. The
real Self of man has nothing to do with the vicissitudes of existence. By
this ignorance of not knowing who the real Self is, man confounds his
outer self with the real Self. An identification with the buddhi makes him
the cogniser. An identification with the mind makes him the thinker. An
identification with all forms of vitality like prANa, makes him the doer.
Thus the entire samsAra is due to this avidyA. Is it something that is
absolutely real? No, because it vanishes the moment one is enlightened. Is
it something that is absolutely non-existent? No, because we have the
consciousness ‘I do not know’. Thus it is neither existent nor non-
existent. It cannot be both, because that would imply self-contradiction.
That is why the scriptures say that it is (‘anirvacanIya’) undecidable.
The only thing we can be sure is that it will disappear once by God’s
Grace the very same consciousness ‘I do not know’ gives place to the
consciousness ‘I am the Self’.
On this point of ‘vidyAtvam saiva yAtA’  let me quote a highly relevant
and illuminating  paragraph from VidyaraNya’s article on ‘Introduction to
the Upanishads’  - in fact it is the last paragraph in his article going
to about 70 pages. Lest this may disturb the continuity of this series of
nArAyaNIyaM slokas, I shall give  this paragraph of Vidyaranya in a
separate post entitled ‘Ignorance itself gets transformed into knowledge –

Sloka No. 29(Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 98 - 7):

bhUShAsu svarNavad-vA jagati ghaTa-sharA-vAdike mR^ittikAvat
tattve samcintyamAne sphurati tad-adhunApy-advitIyaM vapuste /
svapna-draShTuH prabodhe timira-laya-vidhau jIrNa-rajjoshca yadvat
vidyA-lAbhe tathaiva sphuTamapi vikaset kR^iShNa tasmai namaste //

Tr. By reflecting on the true nature of things, it is recognised that even
when this world of multiplicity is perceived, it is only Thy non-dual Self
(as their material cause) that is apprehended, just as gold is seen when
ornaments are perceived, and clay, when mud-pots are seen. When knowledge
dawns, what happens is that this fact becomes crystal clear (through the
total sublation of the objective world into Thyself, their substraturm)
just as the true nature of dream objects becomes evident on awakening, and
of the worn-out rope, on the disposal of darkness. To that Self, Oh
Krishna, my salutations!

Comment. The right vision is that which sees the one-ness amidst the
plurality of experience. ‘sarva bhUteShu yenaikaM bhAvam-avyayam-IkShate’
(Gita XVIII – 20). Perception of difference arises because of the
recognition of name and form. The enlightened one sees the tile, the stone
and the golden brick, all in the same way. This equanimity of vision is
the ultimate goal of spirituality. When a wooden elephant is presented to
a child the child is carried away by imaginations about the elephant. But
we shall be only children spiritually if we cannot see the wood for the
elephant.  The normal human being is distracted by the multiplicity of
appearances and is still, as it were, in a dream state, where he refuses
to believe there is a more real world outside of his dream. Because, no
dreamer realizes, while dreaming, that he is dreaming. He cannot rise
beyond the glamour of plurality that confronts him and does not perceive
there is an essential unity in all that he sees. This kind of knowledge
sees the multiplicity of things only in their separateness and variety of
operation. It looks at the jumble of pieces of knowledge as if they are
forcefully put together. The scriptures prescribe, on the other hand, that
perception wherein
Whatever you see, you see only the Lord’s presence in it;
Whatever you hear, it is the melody of His music, Krishna-flue-like;
Whatever you taste, it is the sweet nectar flowing from His Grace;
Whatever you smell, it is the fragrance of the dust of His feet; and
Whatever you touch, it is the touch of the divine hand of Fearless-ness
This is the advaita-bhakti. The contemplation of this sloka can be
expected to lead to such advaita-bhakti.

Sloka No. 30 (Ref. nArAyaNIyaM : 94 - 6):

jIvan-muktatvam-evam-vidham-iti vacasA kiM phalaM dUra-dUre
tannAmAshuddha-buddher-na ca laghu manasaH shodhanaM bhaktito’nyat /
tan-me viShNo kR^iShIShTAs-tvayi kR^ita-sakala-prArpaNaM bhakti-bhAraM
yena syaM mankShu kimcid-guru-vacana-milat trvat-prabodhas-tvadAtmA //

Tr. Of what good are mere words defining  the condition of one liberated
in the embodied state itself, that is, even when alive? It is only a name
as far as  a person of impure mind (is concerned). Other than bhakti there
is no easy way of attaining to purity of mind (needed for attaining to
that state). Oh Vishnu! May Thou therefore deign to bestow on me intense
devotion characterized by absolute surrender of all deeds to Thee. With
the purity of mind gained thereby and the instructions of the guru I shall
soon attain to true enlightenment and union with Thee.

Comment. The concept of jIvan-mukta is central to advaita. The blessed
soul whose ignorance has been destroyed by the realization of Brahman in
the nirvikalpa-samadhi becomes liberated at once from the body if there is
no strong momentum of past actions (prArabhda-karma) left. But if there
is, it has to be exhausted by the body experiencing it. Such a person is
called a jIvan-mukta (liberated when alive). Though associated with the
body he is ever untouched by ignorance or its effects. He is established
in Brahman and recognizes no bondage. He has got the ‘dawn of knowledge’
mentioned in sloka #s 28 and 29 above. His physical body may experience
anything. His sense-organs may be affected by blindness, weakness,
incapacity, etc. His mind may be subject to hunger, thirst, grief,
delusion, etc. Yet he does not consider any of these ‘experiences’ as
real, for he has already known their nothingness. He is like the magician
who knows that his performance is all magic and has no real validity.
Sankara describes this state  in his upadesha-sAhasrI (Metrical Section 10
Sloka 13): ‘He does not see anything in the waking state as in sound
sleep; though seeing duality, he does not really see it as he sees only
the Absolute; though engaged in work, he is really inactive; he and none
other, is the knower of the Self’.:
suShuptavaj-jAgrati yo na pashyati dvayam na pashyan-napi cAdvayatvataH /
tathA ca kurvan-napi niShkriyash-ca yaH sa Atmavin-nAnya itIha nishcayaH //
Only a Sankara, a Ramakrishna, a Ramana, a Sadasiva Brahmendra, can
describe this state; because theirs is a first-person-experience.
Now comes Bhattatiri’s punch-line: ‘So what? What is it to me?’! And
Bhattatiri rightly says ‘Let me have the bhakti; and let the Lord decide
whether I deserve this state of jIvan-mukta or not’. And the strategy of
action that he describes is the classical surrender of all our deeds to
the Lord. ‘nimitta-mAtraM bhava’  - be just My  instrument of action’ –
says the Lord. That is the recipe for us, says Bhattatiri.

(To be continued)
praNAms to all seekers of spirituality

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