Tat tvam asi?

Sankaran Kartik Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Feb 18 19:23:28 CST 2002

On Sun, 17 Feb 2002, nanda chandran wrote:

> >   Actually when we say Atman is the knower, don't we mean that=20
> >Atman adds "experience" to the whole biological process of "knowing"=20
> >rather than having its own memory?
> Whether it "adds" experience or not, the mere fact that it is the knower is
> established only because that it knew something. Would one which knows
> nothing be a knower?

Yes. The GYAnI knows nothing besides the Knower.

The verb "know" in the English language is a transitive verb. This means
that the verb has an object that constitutes the "known". In other words,
when asked the question "WHAT do you know?", an answer must exist.
Examples of transitive verbs are "eat" and "call", since we always eat
something or call someone.

But there are intransitive verbs too -- they are verbs that do not have
an object. Examples are "sleep" and "laugh". Since it is quite absurd to
ask questions like "What did you sleep?" or "What did you laugh?", these
verbs do not have an object.

The knowledge of the Self is unique in that It doesn't have an object of
knowledge! The subject, verb and object are all One and the same! The Self
knows the Self by means of the Self. Here the verb "know" is an
intransitive verb without an object. The question "What does the knower
know?" is as absurd to a GYAnI as asking an ordinary person "What did you


> So a knowers position would be established only in
> opposition to the known. It is on this understanding it is said : "it is
> who experienced the past and the same I who experience the present" (see
> Shankara's dialectic against the kshanikavaada of the Bauddhas). Here to
> establish the "I", you need the things that the "I" experienced - so
> implicitly means the known and a past known would imply the usage of
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