Advaita : Some Basic Explanations - 2

hbdave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Tue Feb 19 01:24:44 CST 2002

Dear List members,
Here is the posting no. 2.
I thank Shri S.V.Subrahmanian for kind words.
-- Himanshu
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Advaita : Some Basic Explanations : (2)
                                                -- Himanshu
I would like to start with the following Shantipath
from RigVeda.

{\skt .o vaa"n me manasi prati.s.thitaa mano me vaaci prati.s.thitam |}

{\skt aaviraaviirma edhi | vedasya ma aa.niistha.h |}

{\skt "sruta.m me maa prahaasii.h |}

{\skt anenaadhiitena ahoraatraan sandadhaami |}

{\skt .rta.m vadi.syaami | satya.m vadi.syaami |}

{\skt tanmaam avatu tadvaktaaramavatu |}

{\skt avatu maam | avatu vaktaaram avatu vaktaaram ||}

{\skt .o "saanti.h "saanti.h "saanti.h ||}

{\skt .o bhadra.m no apivaataya mana.h ||}

{\skt .o "saanti.h "saanti.h "saanti.h ||}

May my speech be according to my mind and my mind be tuned to what
I am saying. O Self-Illuminated! manifest in front of me. Bring me
the knowledge of my Universal self.
Let whatever I have understood not leave me.
I make this learning a part of my waking and non-waking states.
I shall speak the Law. I shall speak the Truth.
Let that Truth protect me. May that Truth protect the Speaker (who is
speaking through me.)
May it protect me, may it protect the Speaker, protect the Speaker.
Let there be peace, the peace, the peace.

May our mind be turned to beneficial thoughts.
Let there be peace, the peace, the peace.

That was more or less a straight translation. There is a deeper
meaning in the Shantipath, as there always is for our scriptures,
which should come out in our discussions.

A seeker of the Ultimate Reality require certain preparations. He should
have six "wealths" and be devoid of eight "taints". Here we shall talk
about three defects ({\skt do.saa.h}) in a lay persons mind which stops
one from understanding one's true nature. These are :

{\skt mala.h} -- a kind of mental dirt or taint; fear, desire, greed,
anger, etc. this defect can be removed by doing one's duty without aspiring
for the results;
{\skt vik.sepa.h} -- the unsteadyness of mind, a disturbed and wavering
mind; this defect can be removed by practicing meditation;
{\skt aavara.nam} -- a kind of covering, ignorance about his true
self; this defect can be removed by acquiring correct knowledge;

There is a story, famous in Indian philosophical literature, to illustrate
these defects, known as "the Tenth Boy". I shall tell it in short here.

Ten boys went out playing in a jungle. There they came to a river. They
crossed the river by swimming. On the other bank, the leading boy counted
the number of boys (to ensure that every one has crossed safely), but he did
not count himself! He said :
"I do not see the Tenth boy;" (ignorance due to {\skt mala})

"so the Tenth boy is not there, because I do not see Him;"

He started crying after saying so ({\skt vik.sepa}).

Then some good and sympathetic man (a Guru or teacher) came there and asked
why the boy was crying. The boy told his plight. The good man said :
"the Tenth boy is there; ({\skt j~naana.h} information
given as indirect knowledge).

The boy asked, "Where is the Tenth?" The man said :
"You are the Tenth." ({\skt j~naana.h} direct knowledge).
On obtaining this knowledge, the aavaran of the boy was removed and he was

Depending upon the degree of removal of these three kinds of defects,
a person can be highly prepared seeker (uttama adhikaari),
reasonably prepared seeker (madhyama adhikaari), or
lay seeker (kani.s.tha adhikaari).

Scriptures have given different approaches to the One for these three
types of adhikaari. In Advaita tradition also, the explanations given
are tuned to these levels of adhikaari. Many times, these different
explanations are mixed up and they create quite a bit of confusion. Later
in our discussions, we shall see, for example, how the Great Sayings
(mahaavaakya) are to be interpreted for these three levels of adhikaari.

Though ideally, no teaching should be required at all, because you should
know your self, things are not that simple.

Some rare person sees this [Self] like a wonderful thing, some rare
person describes it in wonder, some listens about it as a
wonderful thing and some do not get to know it even after hearing about it.
        (Geeta 2-29)

The first type of person has a direct and unmistakable contact with the
Ultimate Reality. These are the most profound persons and are called
{\skt paramaha.msa} (those who have finally achieved oneness with the Ultimate
Reality). They generally keep quiet. In recent times in our country, two
persons come to my mind -- {\skt paramaha.msa} and
{\skt} -- who can be called this way.

The second type of person describes it after understanding
the true nature of Ultimate Reality. He is considered a little bit defective
as he tries to describe the undescribable. This refers to philosophers who
talk or argue about nature of Ultimate Reality. They try to convince others.
They teach and guide others. They will have to learn to keep quiet.

The third type of persons knows about Self by listening to others who had
either contact with Self or are able to explain its nature. He learns from a
teacher or from scriptures. He is a good student. He has yet to think, get
convinced and then ultimately keep quiet.

But some are not able to have any inkling about Self even when he has an
accidental realization, or a teacher or scripture shows the way. Such
persons have yet to take up the path of spirituality.

Doubt : Is it possible to have an accidental or chance contact with
Ultimate Reality?

Reply : Yes, but that contact is ignored due to ignorance. It is also
short lived, so does not get established in a persons life. For example,
during deep sleep, we are our true self but never realize that! Or, when we
are extremely happy, for a moment we are in contact with our true self, we
forget about the world around us, even ourselves. A lay person ignores these
contacts, but a person on path of spirituality understands their
significance and uses them as indications for the path to be taken.

In {\skt "sriimad bhaagavatam}, Narada describes his previous birth, where he
had a momentory glimpse of the Lord. On seeking further, Lord Vishnu himself
told him :

{\skt sak.rd yad dar"sita.m rupametatkaamaaya te.anagha |}

O sinless boy, I have shown you a flitting glimpse of myself to arouse
in you a craving for me.

If this craving get generated in you, you are a fortunate person.

But for most of us, some teaching is required, which gradually takes one
nearer and nearer to the final step.

There are four stages in this teaching :

i.      rejecting {\skt dehaatmabhaava} - "this body/mind complex is I
        sense", and find out who is real "I";
ii.     realizing {\skt aikya} - oneness of {\skt aatmaa} - Self and
        {]\skt paramaatmaa} - brahman;
iii.    realizing oneness of brahman and maayaa;
iv.     ajaatavaada.

So, the first step is to find out who (or what) is "I", technically called
{\skt saak"si} or {\skt dehin} - the One who owns or controls the body.
This we shall take up in the next posting.

Best wishes,
-- Himanshu

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