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Mon Jul 22 13:24:05 CDT 2002
--- In ambaa-l at y..., "harshanand_16" <harshanand_16 at y...> wrote:
MANASOLLLASA A TREATISE ON ADVAITA
Jaya Jaya Shankara!
Shree Lalita Mahatripurasundari Paraabhattaarikaa Sametaaya Shree
Chandramouleshwara Parbrahmane namaH!
Manasollasa is a wonderful treatise on Advaita by Sri
Sureshwaracharya, the great disciple of Acharya Shankara. This is
actually a commentary on Acharya's Dakshinamurthy Stotra. This is
called Manasollasa ` that which exhilarates the mind'. However, I
would like to add that before getting such joy out of a tough
metaphysical work like this, a taste for the same has to be
assiduously cultivated. This Manasollasa itself has a commentary by a
seventeenth century scholar named Raama Tirtha. Presented here is a
summary of this invaluable work, with invaluable notes by Sri Swami
Harshandaji of Ramakrishna Ashrama.
`This exists', `This reveals itself', thus proceeds ordinary
life. And, in which thing is this `existence or revelation'
established? Is it established in those respective things? Or in God,
the Self of All? What is the nature of Ishwara or God and Jiva or
individual soul? And, what is the nature of this `being, which is the
Self of all? ` These are the questions asked by the disciple. As a
result of the merit acquired over several previous lives, the spirit
of discrimination (Viveka) and detachment (Vairagya) has dawned upon
him. This has endowed him with the required competence (Adhikara) to
enquire into the nature of Truth.
Every object that is grasped by our senses appears to exhibit
two characteristics: existence (Astitva) and the capacity to be
revealed (Prakaashatva). The question is where these two are
established? Are they separate for each object and exist in the
object itself? Or, are they universal and exist in Ishwara, the
common substratum and Self of the entire creation?
How does Jiva know that Ishwara is the Lord and Self of all?
What is the means of achieving this knowledge? What result does he
gain by that knowledge? Is it obtaining something new like heaven,
which was not there before? Or, is it a rediscovery of an already
established fact, like rediscovering the necklace on the neck, which
had been forgotten due to absent-mindedness? How does this identity
between Jiva and Ishwara come about?
Now, the preceptor starts replying to all these queries. All
the fourteen worlds exist in Ishwara. The entire world, though inside
Him, appears to be outside, like the reflection in a mirror, due to
Maya. Just as one, in a dream, sees the world within oneself as if it
is separate, in the same way, during the waking state also, this
world should be judged. It is deduced that, in dream, the reality of
the objects is nothing but the reality of oneself. Then, what
specialty is there in the objects seen in the waking state, which are
insentient and quickly destroyed? Thus, the common point between the
dream state and the waking state is that in both cases, the objects
of experience are transient.
The revelation of the objects in dream is due to the light of
oneself and not due to anything else. Similarly, in waking state
also so do the wise ones decide. The point to be noted here is that
any object, which cannot exist independently, cannot also reveal
itself independently. How can an object, which does not exist, reveal
itself? Just as one who has woken up from sleep, does not see the
objects shown in dream, even so, one does not see the world, after
attaining knowledge par excellence. This knowledge is the realization
of atman or Brahman, the basis of all existence and consciousness.
When the Jiva who has been asleep due to beginning-less Maya,
wakes up, then, he realizes the non-dual Self, which is beyond the
three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. Ignorance of, and
mistaken notions about, the atman are as good as sleep, or perhaps
worse than sleep. Sleep breaks in a natural way without our effort,
whereas only rigorous Sadhana can remove ignorance and false
understanding. The awakening from Maya comes as a result of the
teachings of a competent Guru.
By the kindness of the Vedas and the spiritual preceptor, by
the dint of the practice of yoga, as also by the grace of the God,
when the knowledge of the Self arises, the aspirant sees the whole
world as swallowed up by the fullness of the `I' principle i.e. the
Self. The atman-Brahman principle can never be known through the
medium of the senses or even the intellect or by inference. Its
existence and nature are known only through the revealed scriptures
Just as one becomes a king in a dream, enjoys all the desired
objects, conquers an enemy in the battle-field, is defeated later by
another enemy, retires into forest and performs austerities, and
thinks that he has lived for a very long time, even though it was for
a very short period, as long as the dream lasts. In the same way, in
the waking state also, he rules over the kingdom fancied by the mind,
and does not perceive how his life is getting destroyed by the
powerful floods of the river of time. Like the sun covered by clouds,
the Atman being greatly deluded by Maya, appears like one who knows
little and can do little. However, the reality is only one. It is the
atman-Brahman principle. It is this same principle that appears both
as Ishwara and as Jiva. The example of the king given above clarifies
this point. It is the same person that becomes both the king and the
forest mendicant. Both these conditions have been brought about by
dream state. In the same way, it is association with Maya that makes
the Atman appear as Ishwara. Entering into the created world and
subjecting himself to the influence of Maya, he becomes the Jiva.
There is no separate or independent entity called Jiva at all.
Whatever work a person accomplishes by his own power or
whatever knowledge he gains by his own capacity, with regard to that,
he is described as `emperor', `king', `servant' or `Lord'. Thus,
anyone who achieves anything great in this world, by dint of his
own efforts and capacity, is an Ishwara with regard to the
achievement. The point to be noted however is that, it is due to the
identity with Ishwara that the powers of knowledge and action have
been transferred to all the living beings. That the Jiva is also
Ishwara is established by the fact of the accretion of the powers of
Ishwara on the Jiva. What is meant here is that the power of
knowledge and action, Jnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti, really belong to
Ishwara. He alone is independent. These powers are also seen in the
Jiva, but they are borrowed powers like the heat in a red-hot iron
ball. Because the jives exhibit these powers which belong to Ishwara,
therefore it may be inferred that Ishwara is in them, as their very
Self. Hence His Sarvaatmatva or the quality of being the Self of all
Like the light of sun, it is knowledge or consciousness that
shines by itself in all such apprehensions as: `This is a pot', `This
is a cloth'. When an object like a pot or a cloth is seen in
sunlight, it is actually the sunlight that is reflected from those
objects that is being seen. And, sunlight does not need a second
object to reveal itself. It is self-revealing. Similarly, when we
know an object as, `This is a pot', it is actually the consciousness
of our self that is revealing itself. If knowledge or consciousness
were not self-existent, then the world would have become blindly
dark. If Ishwara did not possess any Kriya (activity), then, how can
day-to-day life proceed? But what is this Kriya? Kriya or activity is
of the nature of movement and transformation. When knowledge or
consciousness flows out, then activity rises as its effect, as it
were. Here Ishwara is being described as Sarvajna (all-knowing) and
Sarvakarta (doer of all), thereby attributing two important
characteristics of Jnana and Kriya to him.
Kriya or activity manifests itself in two ways: Parispanda,
which means vibration or movement as in the case of an arrow, shot
from the bow. The second way is called Parinama, which means
transformation or change of state as in the case of gold being made
into ornaments. Now the scriptures say that Kriya is a product of
Jnana. How it is so, can be explained as follows: When a person sees
a small boulder on his path, lifts it with his hands and clears his
path, a long chain of actions will have taken place. First, his mind-
stuff, with the reflection of the consciousness of Atman in it, flows
out through the eyes, envelopes the boulder and produces the
knowledge, `This is a boulder'. Second, he thinks, `Since this is
obstructing my path, let me remove it'. Third, he lifts it with his
hands and removes it elsewhere. It is actually this last part, which
is actual Kriya. For this, the hands are the gross instrument. This
instrument in turn is moved by the power of Prana, the vital breath
of life-force energy. This Prana, is situated in the body and
supported by the Atman, which is consciousness personified. Thus it
is seen that Kriya is the end product of Jnana. This atman that is
the Antaryamin (the indweller) is really Ishwara. Hence whatever
activity is seen in living beings, it is to be understood as having
ensued from Ishwara Himself.
Activity abides in production, attainment, refinement and
change. It gets manifested in such actions as are indicated by the
verbs, `He does', `He goes', and `He goes', `He rubs' etc. what we
mean here is that Kriya is abstract and that it gets manifested
through certain actions. `Doing' as in the case of a
potter, `produces' a pot. This is Utpatti or production. `Going' as
in the case of a traveler returning home results in his `attaining'
his home or goal. This is Praapti or attainment. `Rubbing' as in the
case of the goldsmith brings about a `refinement' in the ornament
through polish. This is Samskaara or refinement. `Cutting' as in the
case of a tree-feller makes the tree undergo a `change' or
disfigurement. This is Vikaara or change. All these are different
aspects of Parinama or transformation. The first, Parispanda or
movement has already been illustrated in the boulder example.
Ishwara, in the bodies of Brahma, Vishnu and other deities,
appears to be omniscient. In gods, human beings and animals,
respectively in the decreasing order, his knowledge becomes limited.
Beings born out of the womb, the egg, moisture and springing from the
earth-these four classes, again, have less knowledge in the
decreasing order starting from the first. Ishwara, the Sarvajna (all-
knowing) has become the Jiva who is a Kinchijna (the little-knowing).
What is the reason for it? It is just a question of manifestation of
knowledge, which depends upon the type of body the Jiva inhabits. In
the scale of evolution, higher the type of body, greater the
manifestation of knowledge. Similarly, lower the type of body, lesser
the manifestation of knowledge. When the Supreme Atman, the unlimited
light is realized, it will be discovered that everything from Brahma
(the creator) upto a blade of grass is only a fanciful idea like that
of a dream. On waking up from sleep, all the fanciful creations of
dream just disappear. Similarly, when the infinite Atman is realized,
this finite creation also disappears.
The Upanishads describe the Atman thus, ` The Atman, smaller
than the smallest and greater than the greatest, dwells in the hearts
of the creatures. The desire less one, being free from grief,
realizes the glory of Atman through the purity of senses and mind'.
Now, let us examine the views of some prominent schools of thought
regarding the material cause of the wold.
According to the Vaisesika school of thought, the material
cause of this world is Paramanu or atoms of the elements earth, fire,
water etc. They try to prove their theory as follows: `Just as clay
and not Ishwara, is the material cause of a pot, which is seen
invariably as consisting of clay, in the same way, it is the atoms
combined that form the material cause of the world and not Ishwara.
The various qualities like form, taste, smell etc. that may appear in
the products of these atoms, are really produced from those qualities
in the atoms themselves. Even here, the agency of Ishwara is not
As far as created objects are concerned, there are three
Kaaranas or causes that contribute to their production. They are:
Samavayee Kaarana or inherent cause, Asamavayee Kaarana or non-
inherent cause and Nimitta Kaarana or efficient cause. `Samavaaya' is
a technical term of Nyaya-Vaisesika school. It is the relationship by
which a quality inheres in the qualified object (eg. Redness in rose
or motion in a moving object). Extending this principle further, this
school says that an effect like a pot inheres in the cause, the clay,
from which it is made to manifest. So, clay is the Samavayee Kaarana
for the pot. The potter's wheel and the stick are Asamvayee Kaaranas
or non-inherent causes. The potter himself is the Nimitta Kaarana or
the efficient cause. In creation, according to this view, Ishwara
plays only the third role as Nimitta Kaarana and not the first two.
The material cause is always reflected in its effects. Since Ishwara
is not reflected in this world, therefore, He is not the material
cause. This is the conclusion of these schools.
Now let us examine briefly the conclusions of the Sankhya
school in this matter. Pradhana comprises of the three Gunas or
qualities: Rajas, Satva and Tamas. Among them, rajas is red in color
and is of the nature of constant change. Satva is white in color and
is of the nature of light. Tamas is dark and is of the nature of
concealing or covering. They are respectively the causes of creation,
sustenance and destruction of the world. This is what the Sankhyas
declare. If the Nyaya-Vaisesika school accepts Ishwara at least as
the Nimitta Kaarana, the Sankhya school has completely dispensed with
These theories can be easily refuted. Most of these schools
of thought depend upon two methods of knowledge: Pratyaksha (direct
perception) and Anumana (inference), laying great emphasis on
intellect and reasoning. The Vedanta school depends primarily on
Aaptavakya or shabda (verbal testimony of the scriptures) using logic
also, to meet the other schools on their own ground.
The main contention of Advaita Vedanta is that the
fundamental truth is one, without a second, Adviteeya. It is the
Atman-Brahman, which is pure existence (sat), pure consciousness
(chit) and pure bliss (Ananda). Since this world is a fact of our
experience and since its creation has to be explained somehow to
satisfy our curiosities, we may consider two examples. Firstly, this
world of wonderful varieties existed in Ishwara, even as a mighty
tree with its several roots, branches, leaves and fruits, existed in
its seed, in an undifferentiated form. When the power of Ishwara
called Maya, under His direction, projected space and time,
this `seed' of the world got evolved into all its varieties.
Secondly, this projection of the world is not a real creation like
the potter making a pot out of clay, but the illusionary
manifestation brought out by Ishwara just by his own will, like the
magician producing articles of magic. This obviates the need for a
material cause outside Ishwara, which would otherwise militate
against the conception of Advaita.
It is an accepted fact that the material cause is invariably
present and perceptible in all the effects. For instance, clay is
present and perceptible in the lump, the finished pot, and in broken
pot-shreds. Since `existence' is invariably present and perceptible
in all objects of the world, that itself is the material cause. If
the Paramaanus or the atomic particles are the material cause of this
world, they should have been perceived in all the effects, starting
from the seed right upto the tree and fruits. But they are not.
Again, since the Paramanus are invisible, the world, which is their
product, also should have been invisible. Hence the Paramaanus are
not the material cause of this creation, but Ishwara.
It is acceptable to all that the effect exists in its cause.
Hence existence and revelation follow in all the effects. If the
effect pre-exits in the material cause, it is to be conceded that it
is the material cause that is appearing in another from, as the
effects as for example, the clay appearing as a pot.
Since `existence' and Sphurattaa (the capacity to reveal itself) are
present in all objects of creation, therefore Brahman, which is sat
and chit, should be accepted as the material cause of this world.
When a flower is transformed into a fruit and milk into curd,
the qualities of color, taste etc., are seen to be different. It is
normally accepted by all that the qualities in the material-cause
produce similar qualities in the effects. For instance, the red color
of the thread produces red color in the cloth woven out of that
thread. If this principle is applied, the attempt of some to show
that in a series of transformations (as for example, a seed
ultimately becoming the fruit) each succeeding effect becomes the
cause for the next, fails. When the flower becomes the fruit or milk
becomes curd, they differ from each other very widely. Hence it is to
be accepted that all these are appearances of Brahman only.
Cause and Effect (eg. Seed and sprout), part and whole (eg.
Threads and cloth), species and individual (eg. Feline family and
cat), quality and qualified (eg. Red color and red cloth), action and
that which is endowed with action (eg. Movement and a moving object
like a wheel)- all these are only ideas superposed on Brahman, which
is pure consciousness. These various dualities are only appearances
in Brahman brought about by Maya.
Neither for the atomic particles nor for the Pradhana of the
Sankhyas, consciousness has been conceded. In the process of creation
of the world, consciousness and action are seen associated with the
living conscious entity only. It is only a living conscious entity
that can set forth the process of creation. Without a potter, the pot
can never be produced. Hence it is only Ishwara that can set forth
the creative process of the world. The atomic particles of the
Vaisesika theory and the Pradhana of the Sankhya theory (comprising
of the three Gunas), which are accepted as the matrix for creation,
are both without consciousness and hence incapable of creation.
Curd is produced from milk by the power of action of Ishwara,
in the form of time. By the power of knowledge of Ishwara, this world
of knower, known and knowledge is produced. The Sankhyas who posit
Pradhana, the insentient principle as the cause of creation, give the
example of milk becoming curd by itself, without being associated
with any conscious entity, as the proof. Even here however, it is the
Kriya Shakti of Ishwara, in the form of time that is always
associated with Ishwara that is responsible for this transformation.
Thus, it is never bereft of association with the conscious principle
called Ishwara. As regards the creation of this world, which can be
divided into the knowing entity, the known entity and knowledge
itself, it is due to the Jnana Shakti or the power of knowledge of
Ishwara. Knowledge is of two types, the Nirvikalpa (without
modifications)- which reveals the object and the Savikalpa (with
modifications)- which however is manifold since it reveals name and
form. When we perceive a jar, the first cognition that we get is a
very general one, `This is jar'. Closer examination reveals many more
things like, `This is a small red jar made of clay, with a lid, and
two holes on the right side'. The former is Nirvikalpa and the latter
is Savikalpa. Other examples for Savikalpa knowledge are will, doubt,
misapprehension, memory, cognition of similarity, determination,
guess, and the incapacity to determine the real nature of things.
The Charvakas (materialists) accept only Pratyaksha or direct
perception as the means of knowledge. The Vaisesika School and the
Buddhists accept in addition, Anumaana or inference also.
The Sankhyas accept all these, along with Shabda or scriptural
testimony. Pratyaksha is the means of knowledge by direct perception
through the physical senses like the eyes, nose etc. Anumaana is the
inferential knowledge gained by perceiving some signs invariably
associated with the objects as; as for instance, in guessing the
existence of fire by seeing smoke. Shabda is verbal testimony, the
words of honest and authoritative people. Scriptural testimony is the
highest among such verbal testimonies since the scriptures contain
super-sensory knowledge revealed to the sages. Some of the Vaisesikas
also accept this. Others accept Upamaana or comparison in addition.
The Purva Mimamsa school has branched off into two sub-
schools founded by Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhakara. Prabhakara accepts
Pratyaksha, Anumana, Shabda and Upamana along with Arthaapti or
implied knowledge. Consider the example, ` Devadatta, who is growing
fat, is never seen to eat by day'. Hence, the implication is, ` He
must be eating by night!' Kumarila Bhatta accepts all these along
with Abhaava or non-existence as the sixth. The Pauranikas accept all
the six along with Sambhava (possibility) and Aitihya (tradition).
Abhaava is also called Anupalabdhi or non-perception. The non-
perception of a pot in the niche proves its non-existence there. The
Pauranikas are those who believe in the ancient legends and lores,
handed down usually by oral tradition. Sambhava means possibility.
When a drum of fifty litres has been fully filled by grain, and if an
additional quarter litre of grain is brought near it, it shows
Sambhava or possibility of accommodating that additional quantity
also. This is another means of knowledge. Aitihya is a means of
knowledge that has been handed down by tradition. For example, people
may believe that an evil spirit haunts a banyan tree near the burial
ground, if that knowledge has been handed down by tradition for
The Vaisesikas describe six Padarthas or categories of
objects as follows: Dravya (substance), Guna (quality), Karma
(action), Saamaanya (generality), Vishesha (speciality) and Samavaaya
(inference). All objects of this world that are perceived by the
senses and the mind have been grouped under six headings by the
Vaisesikas as narrated here. The Dravyas are nine: the Five Bhootas-
earth, water, fire, air and ether or sky, space, time, soul and mind.
The Gunas are twenty-four: sound, touch, color, taste, smell,
dimension, number, conjunction and separation, separateness (the
quality that makes a thing appear to be separate from others),
weight, liquidity, distance, nearness, oiliness, tendency, knowledge,
aversion, pleasure, pain, desire, merit (invisible good effect
produced by the performance of righteous actions), demerit and
effort. Tendency again is of three types: the speed that causes
movement in an arrow discharged from the bow is the first. The
impression that causes remembrance of what is seen, heard and
experienced is the second. That which is called elasticity, causing
recovery to the former condition- as seen clearly in the case of a
branch or the leaf of the birch tree that is pulled-is the third.
The wise ones describe action as fivefold: throwing up,
throwing down, motion, expansion and contraction. `Generality' is
said to be of two kinds: the superior and the inferior. The superior
is `existence' itself. Liquidity, attributes etc., which exist
following this `existence', form the inferior generality.
Specialties, which are responsible for differential knowledge, are
infinite. Because the objects that are met in this world are
infinite, the `specialties' in them-what make them appear different
from one another- are also infinite.
In Sankhya school, the important categories listed are
Prakriti, Pradhana (the chief), Avyakta (the unmanifest), Avidya
(nescience), Ajnana (ignorance), Akshara (the indestructible),
Avyaakrita (the undifferentiated) and Tamas (darkness). As a result
of the contact of the reflection of the consciousness of Brahman in
Maya, Mahat (the great), Kaala (time) and Pumaan (Jiva or individual
soul) are manifested. From Mahat is born Ahankaara or ego-principle.
Mahat is also called Buddhi (cosmic intelligence). It is the first
evolute of Prakriti or nature. Kaala or time is a mode of the power
of Brahman that arises out of association with Prakriti. Pumaan. The
individual soul, though unborn and independent, somehow gets into the
grip of Mahat and consequently suffers as doer and enjoyer of good
and bad actions. Ahankaara is what endows individuality and
separateness to a created object. As already stated, Pradhana
consists of the three Gunas. Now, let us consider the evolutes of the
Pradhana. The five elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth are
produced out of the Taamasic aspect of Ahankaara. So, also the five
qualities of sound, touch, color, taste and smell, in that order.
These five qualities are the objects of the five sense organs, ear,
skin, eye, tongue and nose. Antahkarana (the internal organ) and the
five sense organs are produced out of the Satva aspect of Ahankaara.
The Antahkarana or the internal organ comprises of Manas (mind),
Buddhi (intellect), Ahankara (egoism) and Chitta (mindstuff). Doubt,
determination, arrogance and memory are the objects of these four
aspects of Antahkarana respectively. The following are understood to
be Jnanendriyas or organs of knowledge or perception: ear, skin,
eyes, tongue and nose. The five Karmendriyas or organs of action
(namely speech, hands, feet, organs of evacuation and generation) and
the five vital airs (Pranas) are produced out of the rajas aspect of
Ahankara. The objects of these organs of action are respectively
speech, seizing, movement, evacuation and pleasure. The five vital
airs are: Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana. The followers of the
science of Sankhya understand the fundamental principles of the world
as twenty-four in number, comprising the five elements, the five
vital airs and the fourteen senses. Counting Mahat, Kaala, Pradhaana,
Maya, aVidyaa and Purusha (same as Jiva) along with the above, the
Pauranikas describe the fundamental principles as thirty. Maya is
associated with Ishwara but his under his control. Avidyaa is
associated with the Jiva, but overwhelms him. This is the basic
difference between the two.
The various Tatvas or principles put forward by these
different schools have been dubbed as Vikalpas, only conjectures, and
not real. It is Ishwara Himself who has promulgated those various
views by assuming the forms of the Rishis (sages) who were the
founders of those schools. It was said before that the world was non-
different from Ishwara before creation. However, even after the
creation has come into existence, it continues to be non-different
from Him. All living beings exhibit the traits of Iccha, Jnana and
Kriya before they perform any act. And, these three are really the
traits of Ishwara. Hence all the beings are aspects of Ishwara.
Again, these traits have been manifested because of Ishwara's
association with Maya. Hence the world, which is a creation out of
these three traits, is also Maya. Since Ishwara possesses infinite
power, He is able to create everything, sustain it and destroy it,
just by His free will, independently, without needing the help of a
second object i.e. without the help of a material cause or an
Ishwara, who is eternal, does not become a `doer' just by the
activity of the means of Kriya. Nor does he become a `knower' by the
activity of the means of knowledge. He is verily self-resplendent.
The idea is that one who is a knower or doer by virtue of external
means, is subject to change. What is subject to change cannot be
eternal. Then, how does Ishwara exercise his Kriya Shakti and Jnana
Shakti? It is by his mere presence, like a magnet or a king, whose
presence is enough for others to do their duties.
According to Advaita Vedanta, Ishwara is Abhinna-Nimitta-
Upaadaana-Kaarana i.e. He is both the efficient cause and the
material cause of this world. Secondly, creation is a projection out
of Himself by his power of Maya. Thirdly, the whole process of
creation, sustenance and destruction is just an illusionary exercise.
Thus it becomes clear that Ishwara is the unchanging eternal Reality.
It is a well known universally accepted principle that while
discussing about things beyond the reach of the senses, one should
proceed from the seen to the unseen, from the known to the unknown.
The of quoted example for the Nimitta Kaarana is the potter. The
potter has to exert himself to produce the pot. This exertion
involves the use of his limbs. That means, he is a Saririn (embodied
being) with limbs or parts. Anything that is embodied or comprising
of parts gets destroyed one day. If Ishwara is accepted as only the
Nimitta Kaarana, He has perforce to be admitted as an embodied being
subjected to change, decay and death. This however is against all
scriptural statements. Also, there is no example in this world by
which we can illustrate that a thing can be changeable and yet
eternal. Hence, the views of the Sankhyas and Vaisesikas cannot be
If Ishwara possessed Gunas like Buddhi etc. eternally, then,
being endowed with an eternal desire, He would have to engage Himself
in the act of creation of this world, eternally. Then, since the
inclination towards action will not cease, the bondage of
transmigration also will not cease. Therefore this creation of the
world by Ishwara is only a phenomenon of Maya.
Existence and revelation have passed on from the eternal
Ishwara into these objects, which are similar to unreality,
insentient and transient. This passing on (Sankrama) is not like the
passing on of heat from the fire to the iron ball. In that case,
reality will have to be conceded for the free iron ball, which is
against Advaita. It is more like the borrowed reality of the snake in
the rope or silver in nacre, wherein the snake or silver do not exist
apart from the substratum, which alone is real. The existence of
these objects is the existence of the Atman alone and not anything
apart from it. Similarly, their revelation is not different from the
revelation of the atman.
The various kinds of perception as also their objects are
connected together in the ego-sense like the groups of pearls on the
string. When the light of the Atman is reflected in the mind, it is
called Ahamkara or ego-sense. This itself is the Jiva, the individual
soul. The various kinds of knowledge that arise out of perceiving
various objects of the senses coalesce in this ego-sense. The
existence of those objects (Sattaa) and knowledge about them
(Sphurana) are perceived only through thus ego-sense, which again is
only a reflection of the Sphurana of the Atman. Previously, existence
itself had been denied to the objects of the world. Here, granting an
empirical existence for them, their unity I the Atman-consciousness
is being shown.
This world appears to all as verily non-different from light.
The waves, bubbles etc., do not have an existence of their own,
separate from water. Neither the waves nor the bubbles have any
independent existence apart from water. Similarly, all the objects of
this world, which derive their Sattaa and Sphurana from the Atman,
are Atman alone in reality.
That knowledge which enters into an object producing the
awareness `I know (this object)', later on, rests on the inner Self
as `This was known by me'. This proves that Sphurana or revelation is
a quality of the Atman and not of the outside object. The effects
like jar etc. rest upon their material causes like clay etc. Since
this world is non-different from light or consciousness, it has to
rest on the supreme Lord.
Just as a mirror becomes dirty by the dust on it, knowledge
also gets covered by ignorance. Hence, the beings are deluded by
that. If the non-dual principle is the Reality, then, how is it that
the living beings cannot comprehend it? The dirt on the mirror covers
it, making it incapable of reflecting things. Similarly, Ajnana or
ignorance which is begginningless (Anaadi) and indescribable
(Anivrchaneeya) covers the Jnana of the beings. Consequently, they
perceive the world of duality, develop desires, involve themselves in
action, get deluded and suffer. Just as it is the `great sky' that
appears as the `pot sky' due to the limiting adjunct of the pot, in
the same way, the difference between the Jivatman and Paramatman has
been wrought by the limiting adjunct of the body. So, it is the body
that is the root of all troubles! Once the spirit that pervades it,
but which really transcends it, is realized, identity with Paramatman
is established. We shall further see the process of achieving this.
The identity between the Jiva and Paramatman is exhibited by
sentences such as, `That thou art' Tat Tvam Asi. Normally Tat
refers to a distant object and Tvam to a person nearby. Brahman as
Ishwara, who is the creator of this apparently infinite world
naturally appears to be `there', at a great distance whereas a person
with whom we are talking is `here', near at hand. Hence, the supreme
Brahman who is the cause of the world is stated as the meaning of the
word Tat (that). On the other hand, the Jiva who is limited by the
body etc., is named by the word Tvam (thou). One who is seen
in `that' place, time and condition is said to be `that person'.
Similarly, one who is seen in `this' place, time and condition is
said to be `this person'. Consider a simple example to illustrate the
method recognize the identity between Jiva and Brahman. If the person
Devadutta whom we saw yesterday evening in the market comes to our
house this morning, perhaps in a different dress, we still recognize
him immediately as `This is Devadutta'. In doing so, the two times,
the two places and the two dresses are brushed aside and only the
person himself has been taken into consideration. Similarly, while
interpreting the sentence of identity of Jivatman and Paramatman
viz., Tat tvam Asi (That thou art), the qualities of the two that
appear directly (for eg., being inside the body, being outside;
little knowledge and omniscience; little power and infinite power
etc. ) should be given up as incidental, and take the person himself
who is the Atman\Brahman, the pure consciousness.
In the sentence tat tvam asi, the relation between the
words `Tat' (that) and `tvam' (thou) is one called Samaanaadhikarana.
Adhikarana means `substratum' and `Samaana' means `same'. So, the
word means, `having the same substratum'. When we say, `this is a
blue lotus', blueness and lotusness inhere in the same substratum,
the flower called the blue lotus. The idea here is that both the
words tat and tvam have the same substratum, which is pure Chaitanya
or consciousness. Meanings may differ, but the thought remains the
same. Also, the relation between the meanings of these two words (tat
and tvam) is that of a Visheshana and Visheshya. Visheshana is a
quality. Visheshya is that which is qualified. `Blue' is the
Visheshana. `Lotus' is the Visheshya. Similarly, the Jiva, being the
meaning of `tvam', is the Visheshana. Ishwara, the meaning of `tat',
is the Visheshya. This great sentence `that thou art', teaches
identity through Lakshya and Lakshana. Lakshana is an implication.
Lakshya is what is implied. When a red horse is running, if we
say, `Oh! Red is running', the word red implies the red horse. `Red'
is the Lakshana and the horse is the Lakshya.
The meaning of a sentence is of three types: Vaachyaartha,
Vyangyaartha and Lakshyaartha. Vaachyaartha is the direct meaning as
in the sentence, `Bring the cow'. Vyangyaartha is the suggested
meaning as in, `Hari is with conch and discus'. The word `Hari' has
several meanings such as lion, monkey, Lord Vishnu etc. To show that
it is Vishnu that is meant here, the words conch and discus are used.
This fixes the meaning of Hari. In Lakshyaartha, t is the implied
meaning that is important, rather than the direct. Consider `The
Kalinga is a hero'. Though actually the word Kalinga means a country,
here it means a citizen of that country.
The Lakshana or implication by which the Lakshyaartha is
derived is of three types: Jahad-Lakshana, that in which the direct
meaning is completely given up in favor of the implied one. Consider
the example, `The cowherd village is in the Ganges'. Since a village
cannot exist in a river, it implies that it is `on the bank' of the
river Ganga. Here the direct meaning has been completely given up
(jahad = giving up). Next comes Ajahad-Lakshana, that in which the
direct meaning is not given up, but something in addition is implied.
For instance, `White is running'. Since the color white cannot run,
it is the white horse or rabbit that is implied. Here, `white' is not
given up (ajahad = not giving up), but `horse' is added. The last is
the Jahad-ajahad-Lakshana, also called Bhaaga Lakshana and Bhaaga
tyaaga Lakshana, in which a part of the direct meaning is given up,
but another part is retained. The ofquoted example is, `This is that
Devadutta' which we have already seen. In the sentence tat Tvam Asi,
both Jahad and Ajahad Lakshanas do not hold good. This sentence,
which is a Mahavakya (the great sentence) is to be interpreted by
means of Bhaaga Lakshana.
When words coined due to different causes point towards the
same object, then, the relationship of these words is one of
Samanadhikarana. Just as the `pot sky' is neither a modification nor
a part of the sky, similarly the sentence says that the Jivatman-
because of the entry (of Paramatman) into the forms created by His
own Maya, as the Jivatman- is neither a part nor a modification of
Paramatman. This Paramatman is known through the Veda and logic, as
being without parts and modifications. In the Madhyadina recension of
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.1.20) there is this statement: `all these
arise out of the atman'. The Gita says, ` In this world of beings, it
is My own eternal part that has become the Jiva (15.7)'. Hence the
doubt arises whether the Jivatman is a modification (Vikara) or a
part (Amsha) of Paramatman. This is confronted by illustrating the
above `pot sky' example. If Ishwara consisted of parts or limbs, or
were subjected to modifications, He too would be destructible. One
who is Himself destructible cannot be the ultimate cause or creator.
Thus by logic, we have to concede that He is indeed without parts and
modifications. The following Vedic mantras clearly show that He, who
is in this body as Jivatman, is really Ishwara or Paramatman. `Having
created it, It entered the very same (Taittareya Upanishad
2.6)', `Having entered (it) in the form of Jivatman (Chandogya
Upanishad 6.3.2)', `That this (person) has entered here, right up to
the tips of the (finger) nails (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.7)'. The
following Sruti statements clearly show that the Supreme Self is
without parts, beyond modifications and the cause of all causes. ` (I
take refuge in Him who is) without parts, beyond all activity,
peaceful, without defects and stains (Sve. Upanishad 6.19)`, ` (The
wise see the Original Cause of all beings as) eternal, all-pervading,
inherent in all, extremely subtle, indestructible (Mundaka
Upanishad 1.1.6)', `He is the cause, the Lord of the master of all
senses; there is none who has generated Him, nor one who is His
master (Sve Upanishad 6.9)'.
The sentence `tat tvam asi' is also not verily devoted to
praise as in, `You are Indra'. One who is not Indra (the king of
gods) may be praised as if he is Indra. Like that, is the Jivatman
being praised as if he is Brahman? No; because in the beginning of
that teaching it is stated, `My dear, in the beginning of creation,
the eternal Truth, one without a second, alone existed (Chandogya
Upanishad 6.2.1)'. At the end again, it is said, `All this has Sat as
its self (Chandogya Upanishad 5.8.7)'. Thus it is obvious that the
whole topic centers round the Supreme Self.
Nor does this sentence advocate similarity as in, `The boy is
like fire'. Nor does it prove a cause and effect relationship as
between clay and pot. To prove similarity between two objects, there
must be something in common either with regard to physical features
or qualities or action. Since Paramatman ahs none of these things,
such a comparison is not at all possible. The Sweta Upanishad
says, `There is no image of that (4.19)'. Since Paramatman is
limbless, cause and effect relation is also impossible.
It is also not a sentence that teaches the relationship
between the species and the individual as instanced by `This is a
defective cow'. Each of the individual cows has the common
characteristics of the species in it. Like that, if Ishwara is the
species and Jiva is the individual, then Ishwara will have to be
considered as an unconsciousness lifeless entity like the `cowness'.
Similarly, this great sentence also does not imply a quality-
qualified relation as in, `Blue lotus'. That is, if Jiva qualifies
Ishwara, He will become a bound soul. On the other hand, if the
Ishwara qualifies the Jiva, the latter will be ever free, thereby
nullifying the need for all the scriptures, which are preaching the
way to liberation.
This sentence does not advocate contemplation as the attitude
of God in images. Upasana or contemplation is not the subject matter
of Chandogya Upanishad (6.8.7), wherein this sentence appears. The
word `Asi' does not permit of such an interpretation. Nor is the
sentence a flattering compliment as for instance in treating the
king's representative as if he is the king himself. That the sentence
is repeated nine times in the Upanishad, and has some discussions
also, does not lend itself to the above said possibility of being
Thus, none of the above hold good with regard to the sentence
tat tvam asi. The issue can be finally clinched by declaring on the
strength of the Srutis that it is Ishwara who has entered the
creation and appears as the Jivatman. Hence the sentence teaches
identity by pushing aside the differences brought about by the
Upadhis (limiting adjuncts), which are not real.
Just like the awareness of heat in iron, wood etc., which
have been pervaded by fire, so also the awareness of the atman in the
conglomeration of body, senses, mind, intellect, vital airs and ego-
sense, due to the pervasion of the atman in them, is experienced by
the ignorant. If Brahman is the Self of all, how is it that It is not
experienced? Identification with the Upadhis is the reason.
The five aspects of human personality, which cover the glory
of the atman, like sheaths as it were, preventing its full
manifestation, are called Pancha Koshas. They are: Annamaya Kosha
(the sheath of the physical body), Pranamaya Kosha (the sheath of the
senses and the vital airs), Manomaya Kosha (the sheath of the mind),
Vijnanamaya Kosha (the sheath of intellect) and Anandamaya Kosha (the
sheath of bliss). For realizing oneself as the Atman, one has to
practice Pancha Kosha Viveka, discrimination that one is not any of
these five Koshas.
The Atman, having entered the Annamaya Kosha, which is the
physical body, appears variously as fat and lean, as a child, as
dark, or as associated with Varna and Ashrama. Then, having entered
the Pranamaya Kosha, the Atman feels: `I am living', `I am
hungry', `I am thirsty'. Having entered into the Manomaya Kosha, he
feels: `I am doubting', `I am definite' and so on. The Atman says in
the Vijnanamaya Kosha, thinking: `I know'. Having entered into the
Anandamaya Kosha, which is nothing but Ahamkara (the ego-sense), he
enjoys the results of merits and meditations practiced in the present
and previous lives, thinking, `I am happy'. Thus, the supreme Lord,
though omnipresent, being covered by the five sheaths, which are like
armors, appears to be limited.
Just as the sun enters into water and shines as many, so also
Ishwara enters the various bodies and appears as many. We shall now
see that being cause or effect is only an accidental characteristic
for the Jiva and the Brahman. It is not considered as real. In order
to point out the moon- say, on the first or second day after new
moon, when it is scarcely visible-one may guide our sight gradually
by pointing out a tree, and then its branch and then the moon seen in
the direction of that particular branch. Though the branch has
nothing to do with the moon, it serves the purpose of pointing to its
whereabouts. This is called Shaakhaachandranyaaya, the maxim of the
tree-branch and the moon. Such a devise, which helps to draw our
attention to the truth, is called Tatastha lakshana or accidental
characteristic. Here, the tree-branch is a Tatastha lakshana of the
moon. As opposed to this, there is the swaroopa lakshana, the natural
characteristic, like the brightness of the moon. We say that Ishwara
(tat) is the `cause' of the world. The Jiva (tvam) is the `effect'
since he resides in the body-mind complex, which is an effect of
creation. However these are not real and are only Tatastha Lakshanas.
The natural characteristic of the moon is said to be great
effulgence. Similarly, the natural characteristic of these two (Tat
and Tvam) is existence-consciousness-bliss or sat-chit-ananda. Gods,
animals and human beings do not have an existence separate from
light. Since Jiva is non-different from light, he is said to be the
universal Self. Thus, when the knowledge that the Self is of the form
of light or pure consciousness is well established, the Jiva will
attain the state of Kaivalya, from which there is no return. If one
is established even by chance (say due to the extraordinary merit
of the previous lives, suddenly manifesting in this life) in
universal Selfhood, then, being freed from all sins, he will be
venerated in the world of Shiva. That great one in whom the universal
Selfhood has become perfectly mature, he is verily the Supreme Lord,
capable of taking others beyond Samsara.
Some dualists raise this objection, ` Objects like pot,
cloth, and so on, exist by themselves and reveal themselves, not
because they are pervaded by Ishwara'. The objection is plain and
simple. We do not see Ishwara anywhere in these objects. Hence, let
us concede that they exist by themselves and reveal themselves to us
because they really exist. This objection can be answered as follows.
The cognition of an object which gives us an awareness not
only of it existence but also the details about it, producing the
knowledge such as, `I know this small red pot full of water', has
been analyzed by Vedanta and is described as follows: the Antahkarana
(internal organ or mind) is the subtlest Upadi nearest to Atman. The
consciousness of Atman is reflected most in it. The Antahkarana is
capable of flowing out through the senses like the eyes and
establishing contact with the objects outside, bringing back their
image. When this image which is also a reflection of the
consciousness in that object, becomes one with the reflection of the
Atman-consciousness in the Antahkarana, knowledge arises.
A powerful light kept in a pot full of many holes, comes out
through these holes and illumines the various objects upon which it
falls. Similarly, the consciousness of the Atman (which is the same
as Paramatman) comes out through the sense organs like the eyes and
produces the knowledge `I know this object'. If outside objects were
capable of independent existence and power of revelation, then all
people should be getting knowledge of all objects always! Then, sense
organs like eyes would have been superfluous. In other words, without
the `I consciousness', the `this-consciousness' would have been
meaningless. Then, the world is as good as not existing. If we
consider the present time also, there is no independent reality for
objects, which did not exist before creation or will not exist after
destruction. Therefore, their existence or reality is established in
Ishwara, who is without `pastness' and `futureness'. If the
insentient objects of this world could reveal themselves without the
help of Ishwara, then all would have been revealed to all or nothing
at all would have been revealed. Thereafter, all people of the world
would have been similar, being either omniscient or ignorant! Again,
if the capacity for self-revelation were equal to both the sentient
beings and the insentient objects, then, the power to know and the
power to be known should both be equally existent in them. In that
case, there being nothing to regulate the functions of the senses,
taste and smell should be grasped by the eyes!
It is Ishwara who shines in the two reflections Jnana
Shakti and Kriya Shakti the two portions of the Antahkarana, which
are like the clean front part and the dirty hind part of a mirror.
Due to the excess of Satva Guna, the intellect (like a clean mirror)
is able to comprehend the reflections of objects, since it is
impelled by the power of the Atman reflected in it. Thus, we should
understand clearly that Jnana Shakti is nothing but the intellect
with the reflection of the Atman-consciousness in it. Though the
intellect is a product of all the three Gunas, the suppression of
rajas and Tamas by Satva is necessary for Jnana to rise. The Gita
says, `Knowledge arises by Satva, avarice by rajas, delusion and
heedlessness come into existence, as also ignorance, by Tamas Gita
All the sense organs, by their connection with the
Antahkarana, are like the spokes fixed to the rim of a wheel. The
sense organs are able to grasp the sense-objects only because of the
Antahkarana behind them. The Nadis are woven into the Antahkarana
like the threads woven in fishing net. All the sense-organs proceed
towards their respective objects like sparks of fire, through these
nadis which have spread up to the sense-receptacles. A nadi is an
energy channel within the body that carries prana.
The middle part of the body, two angulas (finger widths)
above the anus and two angulas below the sex-organ, is called
Moolaadhaara. Resembling the vulva of a virgin, it is triangular in
shape with the apex down, wherein is established Parashakti, called
Kundalini. She is responsible for Prana (the vital air functioning in
five different ways), Agni (the heat in the abdomen, responsible for
digestion of food), bindu (unmanifested state of sound) and nada
(subtle sound). A nadi called Sushumna has one end of it situated at
the apex of Moolaadhaara, the other end reaching right up to the
Brahmarandhra. At the root, it resembles a half-cut bamboo and
comprises six supports. These six supports are variously described as
the six lotuses or the six Aadharas.
Two more nadis called the Ida and Pingala exist, which arise
from the two side corners of Moolaadhaara. Sushumna goes straight,
and intertwining it are Ida and Pingala. The three appear as a single
unit. These three are together called nadi Chakra. From this, various
other nadis proceed. Gaandhari and Hastijihvaa start from
Swadhishthana Chakra and end at the nose. But during Kundalini
Pranayama, when Ida and Pingala are filled with air, Gaandhari and
Hastijihvaa come into contact with the Nabhi Chakra and are raised
upto the eyes.
The region of the navel, resembling a hen's egg, is the
center place of nadi Chakra, from which more nadis have sprung. The
two nadis, Pusha and Alambusa spread up to the two ears. There is a
nadi called Shuklaa, which goes up to the middle of the eyebrows. The
named Saraswati, which ends in the tongue, propagates speech. The
Nadi Vishwodari digests four types of food. The four types of food
are: Bhojya (what does not need chewing, like pudding), Lehya (what
is to be licked only, like honey), Bhakshya (what is fit for chewing,
like hard sweetmeat) and cosya (what is to be sucked, like fruit
juices). Payasvini, situated in the throat, drinks water and causes
There are three nadis arsing out of the nadi Chakra that face
downwards. Of them, Raakaa squirts the semen; Siniivaali and Kuhoo
are responsible for excreting urine and faeces. The nadi called
Shankhini takes the essence of food that is eaten, to the cavity in
the head and accumulates nectar there. In total, there are hundred
and one nadis. Out of them, only the Sushumna goes to the
Brahmarandhra. The Vedanta teaches that by going up through it, one
should become liberated. According to the Upanishads, there are two
paths by which the soul of a dead person can depart: Dhoomaadimaarga
or the path of smoke which brings it back again to this world of
transmigration; Archiraadimaarga or the path of light leading to
Brahma Loka or Satyaloka from which there is no return. Sushumna,
connected to the Brahmarandhra, leads to the Archiraadimaarga. This
is clearly proved by the quotation from the Kathopanishad ^6.16): `
There are a hundred and one nadis of which one has proceeded towards
the crown of the head. By going up through it, one attains
immortality. The others spread out in other directions and they serve
the purpose of exit only, but bringing back the soul'.
When a person enjoys objects like sound etc., through sense-
organs like ear etc., which are impelled by the merits residing in
the intellect, then that state becomes the Jagrat or waking state. It
is the Buddhi (intellect), with the Atman-consciousness reflected in
it, that thinks it is the Kartaa or the doer. Hence, the results of
those actions, Punya and Paapa, reside in the Buddhi. The chief
characteristic of Jagrat or waking state is experiencing sense-
objects through sense-organs.
When the person with these sense organs being withdrawn
enjoys the objects created by the mind due to the impressions of the
waking state, then, that becomes the Swapna or dream state. The chief
characteristic of this state is that the enjoyment or experience of
sense-objects is purely internal. Mind itself creates those objects,
being impelled by the impressions left on it by the experiences of
the waking state. When even the mind is withdrawn, that state is said
to be SuShupti or deep-sleep state. In this state, there is no
experience based on sense-objects, either external or internal. All
that arises in the waking and dream states is unreal, and inert like
a blind person. And, it is Ishwara that shines in all beings in the
form of `I'.
Ahamkara (the feeling of `I') is of three types: Nirvikalpa (without
any modification), Suddha (pure) and Malina (dirty). The Nirvikalpa
Ahamkara, which is cleansed of all ideas, is the highest Brahman
itself and can be compared to the sky, which is free from dust,
darkness, smoke and clouds. At the time of discrimination, due to the
elimination of body etc., the pure Ahamkara is seen a little as
Brahman even as the sky limited by the stars. Ahamkara is the
reflection of the Atman in the Buddhi. When this is absolutely pure,
it is identical with the Brahman. Like the sky enveloped in darkness
and offering no space, the dirty Ahamkara appears impure due to the
contact with the body, the senses etc. the total identification with
the body, the sense organs, the mind etc., leaves practically no
scope to discern the Atman in the Ahamkara. When the Jiva wakes up to
the sense of his being Ishwara, he will become omniscient and the
doer of all. Ishwara, who had been excessively deluded by Maya,
shines by knowledge. By meditation on the Ahamkara, which is without
modifications, the Atman knowledge shines. Discriminative knowledge
frees the Ahamkara from Maya. Meditation on its true nature fully
manifests the Atman. When the covering called Avidya is got rid off,
this supreme Lord in the form of Dakshinamurthy shines by himself.
Till now, the various arguments against the identity of Atman
and Brahman were countered. Now let us tackle various other views,
which often confuse and confound people. Let us begin with the
Charvakas. They claim, `Direct perception is the only means of
knowledge. The four elements (earth, water, fire and air) are the
ultimate truth. There is no liberation apart from death since no soul
is admitted to exist. Lust and lucre are the only two values of life
to be pursued by human beings. Dharma is just go-by. Moksha is not an
independent value to be striven for, since it is nothing but death
that is available without much effort. Ishwara, the creator, does not
exist. If the Atman existed apart from the body, let then it be seen
in front of us like the pot! It is the body that is seen as short,
tall, youth, child etc. and hence is the only reality'. This is the
view of the Charvakas.
Some ignorant people based on the knowledge of experience
as, `I breathe', `I live', `I am hungry' etc., think that the prana
is the Atman. Some others, based on the experience, `I hear', `I
know', say that the intellect is the Atman. Let us examine their
How can objects like the body etc., which are inert like
stone and hence the non-self, get the knowledge of `I' without the
connection with Ishwara? Firstly, this body is not the Atman for the
following reasons: Like the pot, it is seen. It is Drishya (the seen)
and not the Drk (the seer). It is inert, because it has no life or
consciousness of its own. It has a form and anything that has a form
is limited. Also, by losing the form, it can be destroyed. It has
parts, and hence is liable to disintegration. It is a compound of the
five elements. Any compound can be destroyed when broken into the
constituent elements. The body continues to be seen even in states of
swoon, deep sleep and death. But the Atman is not comprehended then
since it is different from the body. If the body itself were the
Atman, then, even when in swoon or deep sleep or death, the `I'
consciousness should have continued to exist. Since this is not seen,
it should be concluded that the Atman is different from the body.
Even as the sun is the first cause of all activities of the earth,
the Atman is the chief cause for the activity of the body. Every
person considers the body as `my body'. None at any time feels, `I am
the body'. Lute and other musical instruments do not produce sound.
They just manifest the sound that is already there in an unmanifested
form. Similarly, the ear is also just a means of apprehending sound.
The eye, like the moon, is also just a means of apprehending form and
color. People who are deficient in sense-organs say, `I have no sense
organ', `I am dumb', `I am deaf'. Do they then have no Atman?
Neither is the prana the Atman since there is no awareness in
the deep sleep state. A person goes to the state of deep sleep in
order to get rid of the fatigue of the experiences in the waking and
dream states. But the prana is still active, protecting the body. So,
it means that in the deep sleep state, the sense organs have retired
but the prana is still active. If prana were to be the Atman, then it
naturally becomes the Lord of all the sense organs. Then, how can
there be retirement of the sense organs when the prana is still
active? When the king is still fighting in the war, the soldiers will
certainly retire! Therefore the prana cannot be the Lord of the sense
The intellect or Buddhi is not Atman either. It is born out
of Atman and dissolved into Atman. Hence, this intellect, which did
not exist before birth and after dissolution, cannot be proved to
exist by itself. The Buddhists claim the sanctity of the doctrine of
Kshanika Vijnana Vaada, according to which the momentary
consciousness itself is the Atman. They argue that each wave of
knowledge of Buddhi or Vijnana gives rise to the next, thus
maintaining a stream of consciousness and this stream itself is the
Atman. Now, when the second Buddhi (thought) is born, is it still
connected with the first, which is in the process of dying and hence
still present? Or is it already dead and gone? If the first
alternative is accepted, then it leads to the possibility of
innumerable thoughts being simultaneously present creating enough
confusion. If the second is accepted, one has to concede that
something is produced out of nothing. Both these conclusions are
logically indefensible and unconvincing.
Till now, it has been proved that the body, the sense organs,
the prana, the mind and the intellect none of these, singly is the
Atman. Let us now refute the possibility of the whole group being the
Atman. The moment a part is separated from the whole, the whole
ceases to be whole. Hence the moment a person loses a limb or a sense
organ, he should continue to live as a conscious being. Then what
about those born with physical or mental deficiencies?
The size of the Atman is a point that is often discussed by
the various Darshanas. The schools of Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, yoga
and Advaita Vedanta consider the Atman as Vibhu or all-pervading. The
Jaina school thinks he is of the same size as the body. Some schools
of Vedanta like Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita consider him as Anu or
atomic. If the Atman had the same size as the body it occupies, then
growth and old age cannot come to a child. If he undergoes changes
like the body, he will also get destroyed like it. This disproves the
Jaina theory. Vedanta considers the mind as atomic and not the Atman.
Like the small mirror reflecting the vast expanse of the sky, the
mind can reflect the all-pervading Atman. The mystery of an entire
world being created by this atomic mind in the dream state is solved
by this reflection theory. It is the delusory feeling of `I' with
regard to the body that causes the Samsara. This feeling of
identification of the self with the body is due to Avidya or
nescience. This then gives rise to Kaama or desire, to fulfill which,
karma or action is done. To experience its results, more births
become necessary. This is how Samsara or transmigration comes about.
The Veda, for the sake of facilitating liberation, has taught
that Ishwara has entered inside the beings. By this, Veda is trying
to make us understand that we are different from the body and the
senses and to make us strive to realize the true nature of the self.
This great delusion, called Maya, can confound even those good at
disputation. Doubts and disputes will continue as long as Brahman is
not realized, since Maya will then be acting in full swing. It gets
dissolved immediately after realizing the Brahman, which is eternal
Consider some doubts! If it is averred that this world is
established in Ishwara in the waking state also, just as it was
established in him in the dream state, then: In the deep sleep state,
what appears to whom? In that state, who is the being that is
constant? This is the objection raised by the Sunyavadins, nihilists
among Buddhists. This is funny, but listen to their
views: `Everything is momentary and void. Each and everything is born
in one moment, stays for one moment and is destroyed in the next
moment. Everything is self-comprehending i.e. there is no division of
the knower and the known. The bodies of the beings are assemblages of
the five Skandhas. These Skandhas are: Roopa skandha, Vijnana
skandha, Sanjnaa Skandha, Samskara Skandha and Vedanaa Skandha. The
objects and sense organs are called Roopa skandha since they
are `formed' (Roopa=form) in the mind. Knowledge of the sense-objects
and sense organs is christened as Vijnana skandha. Name, quality,
action, species and knowledge of specialty this is the fivefold
aspect of the Samjnaa Skandha. For the cows, the `name' is stated to
be `cow'. The `species' is `cowness', which is inherent in all
cows. `Quality' is whiteness etc. `Actions' are referred to when we
say, `It goes' etc. `Knowledge of the specialty is of this
form: `This animal has horns, four legs and a tail'. Thus, the
Samjnaa Skandha is stated to be limited to these five. Attachment, as
also merit and demerit are called Samskara Skandha. Happiness and
misery, as also liberation is named as Vedanaa skandha. Verily, apart
from these five Skandhas, no other Atman exists at all. Nor is there
any creator called Ishwara at all. The world contains in itself all
the excellence. In other words, the various processes in this world,
like creation or regulation, take place all by themselves. The world
is born out the Skandhas and Paramanus, which are of momentary
existence. World of the succeeding moment arises out of the world of
the preceding moment'. This is what the Buddhists propose.
Now, remembrance is actually `re-cognition', cognition of
something that has already been cognized. If none existed during the
deep sleep state and it was all void according to the Buddhists, then
who is it that recognizes himself as, `It is I who slept' after
waking up? Devadutta's previous experiences can be remembered or re-
cognized by Devadutta only and not by Brahmadutta who did not undergo
those experiences. So, this proves the existence of a permanent Atman
who endures through all the states of consciousness. If void is the
cause of this world, then the world itself cannot be proved to exist.
If there is none to assemble the Skandhas and the Paramanus, there
will be no assemblage since there is no cause to achieve it. In the
absence of a potter, the mere existence of clay, wheel and stick will
not automatically produce the pot. Similarly, if Ishwara, the
sentient creator is not accepted, then there can be no creation. What
for does the Buddhist, who denies the existence of the Atman keep
religious vows? Since according to him, the `conscious entity' is
constantly changing, the `entities' that perform the religious acts
like fasting are different, so also the `entities' that will reap the
fruits of these acts! If one earns something and another enjoys it,
why should the person take all that trouble?
A person engages himself in some action or desists from it,
depending on the previous experience and memories of pleasure or
pain. Actions giving pleasure or pain are repeated, others are given
up. This is possible only if the continuity of the personality is
accepted, which is what Pratyabhijnaa or re-cognition indicates. If
this Pratyabhijnaa is an illusion, then no continuity of activities
is possible in this world.
Giving room is an essential act of Akasha (space or ether),
which proves its existence. In the same way, being a doer, knower
etc., are the essential acts that prove the existence of the Atman.
Because the Atman is a conscious independent entity, therefore, he
can think and act. Conversely, because a person can think and act
independently, therefore he is a conscious entity, the Atman. Acts of
thinking and doing proceed from the awareness of oneself first as a
conscious entity. Because the Atman is of the nature of truth,
knowledge and bliss, even at the time of deep sleep, he is recognized
through the statement, `I slept happily'! Being a knower and doer,
based on which the existence of the Atman was proved, is an obvious
fact in the waking state and to a lesser extent, in the dream state
also. But what about the dreamless sleepless state? Since there is
remembrance of the deep sleep experience (Pratyabhijnaa) after waking
up, the existence of consciousness is proved; hence the existence of
the Atman also. Awareness of himself (Jnana) and feeling of joy
(Sukha) even without the existence of and contact with a second
object, prove that he is Satya Jnana Sukhatmaka.
Karma is the object of action. Kartru is the agent of the
action. When the effect of the action of an object is upon the agent
itself, the usage is called Karma Kartari Prayoga. For eg., `Rice is
cooked'. Here, in the process of re-cognition, after deep sleep, the
person who recognizes and the person recognized are both the same.
How is this possible? Because, the Atman is self-revealing. When we
say, `I see', `I go' and so on, it is obvious that the rel `I', the
Atman, which is separate from the body, the senses, the mind etc.,
and acting as their Lord, that is doing all this. This fact can be
discovered by Viveka or Vichaara (discrimination) as taught in the
Srutis by the enlightened sages.
It is because of the great deluding power of the Lord, Maya,
that the materialists, Buddhists and others, who, though interested
in knowing the truth, could not know it! When this Maya is dispelled
by the grace of their Lord, the Atman who is ever present
automatically shines. It is the Atman who is beyond the three states
of consciousness, namely waking, dream state and the state of deep
sleep. It is he who is free from all defects like attachment,
aversion or delusion. He is the one who can be compared to the seed
of the banyan tree. This seed is extremely small, but produces a
mighty banyan tree. Similarly, the Atman is extremely fine and
subtle, but is capable of manifesting this apparently limitless
universe. The Atman is without parts or modifications. Anything that
has parts or gets modified is liable to destruction. Since the Atman
is eternal, he is partless and without modifications. He is the
unmanifest. He cannot be comprehended by the mind like the other
objects. He is full and all-alone. The Atman inside is the Supreme
Lord of the outside world also.
Words have been coined to describe experiences got through
the senses and the mind. Since the nature of the Atman is beyond the
ken of sense-experiences, it cannot be grasped by the ordinary,
impure mind nor described through words.
We already proved that the Atman is both the material cause
and the efficient cause of the world. Hence, from the standpoint of
this world of names and forms, which constantly undergoes changes,
the Atman is Savikalpa (with changes). But, when the Upadhis
(limiting adjuncts) like the body etc., are ruled out or negated, he
shines in his own glory as Nirvikalpa (changeless). If a person
considers Brahman as non-existing, then he himself will become verily
non-existent. If he knows Brahman as existing, then people know him
as existing. Whatever be the state, the sense of `I' inside does not
change. `I who was a child, am now an old man', `I who had slept, am
waking up now'- this is how the `I consciousness' persists through
all the states.
The knowledge, `that is that', with regard to any object
perceived previously, and being perceived now, is said to be
Pratyabhijnaa or recognition. Just as, after eliminating the
different place, time, shape etc., which are incidental, the same
object which is inherent is described as, `This is that', in the same
way, after eliminating `little knowledge' etc., brought about by the
contact of Maya, the knowledge that the Atman is omniscient etc., is
Pratyabhijnaa or recognition of the Atman. The young one of an animal
proceeds to drink the milk of its mother by itself, because of the
remembrance of the experience of the previous lives. Because it is
not possible for a newborn baby to drink the milk of its mother's
breast without the remembrance of a previous experience, therefore,
it is concluded that the Atman is eternal even in different bodies.
Hence the wise should Pratyabhijnaa as a means of knowledge. It is to
be included under the category of Pratyaksha (direct perception)
The Atman, who exists at the previous time of experience and
subsequent time of remembrance, recollects the object, which is in
himself as an impression. Let us hear more objections from the
dualists. `If mere remembrance of objects is described as
Pratyabhijnaa, then how can remembrance attain the status of a valid
source of knowledge with regard to the permanence of the Atman?
Pratyabhijnaa is a form of memory. At the time of remembering an
object, the object is not directly present. Nor is its experience
present since it has disappeared after the withdrawal of the sense
organ from that object. Inference about the existence of the object
based on certain signs is also not there during memory. There is no
simultaneous existence of the object and its experience also in the
memory. Any other relationship between the two for instance, that
between a quality and the qualified - is also not seen. Hence memory
cannot be accepted as a valid source of knowledge. Then, even
remembering the object meant by a name, will become a source of valid
knowledge! Pratyabhijnaa being memory in another form, cannot be
granted the status of a Pramaana or a valid source of knowledge'.
This is what they argue. We shall confront and refute this argument.
Memory arises from the basic material called Samskara
(inherent tendency) which is routed in the Atman and which springs up
from the base of the previous experience that has already passed off.
Memory reminds us that, even after the direct experience of the
object passes off, the Atman who experienced that object is eternal.
For example, a king who has renounced the world in old age may think
thus: `I who enjoyed the kingdom of wealth, elephants, horses etc.
earlier, am now enjoying this peaceful atmosphere of the Himalayas on
the banks of the river Mandakini!'
Not all memories are accepted as valid sources of knowledge.
It is only aspect, the Pratyabhijnaa, that is accepted so. If this is
not accepted, the continuity of the Atman through the various
experiences, cannot be accounted for. When the object disappears and
when the experience also goes out of existence, the Atman who never
disappears, remembers the object, which is resting in Himself as
Samskara or impression. Irrespective of the object and the experience
coming and going, the being who experiences is always present.
The ignorance of the Atman of the inquirers has been brought
about by the darkness of Maya. Like shade and light of the sun, Maya
and knowledge are two powers of the Lord. Maya covers all. Vidya
uncovers the truth that the real or essential nature of the Jiva is
indeed the Atman or Ishwara. Verily, it is Pratyabhijnaa that proves
the validity of all means of knowledge. What we have to follow is
that Pratyabhijnaa is not just `re-cognition', an aspect of memory.
It is really the reflection of the witness-consciousness (Sakshi-
Chaitanya) in the mind. Maya produces the dichotomy as `Ishwara is
different and I am different'. The memory that arises in the form, `I
am Ishwara', after dispelling Maya by Vidya or knowledge, is
Pratyabhijnaa. Ishwara, who was covered by the veil of Maya and hence
who shone very little, now shines brightly like the sun, when the
veil is removed completely. So, what Vidya does is just to remove the
veil and nothing more. It does not produce the Atman-consciousness.
The way ignorance hides the reality of an object and the way it is
removed, revealing it, are both Anivarchaneeya, beyond words and
Just as due to illusion, one moon is seen in water as many, a
fierce serpent in a harmless rope, a magical city in the all-
pervading sky, water of mirage in bright sunlight, similarly the
world which is without reality as it were, is superimposed on the
Atman out of delusion. When the ignorance is destroyed, the truth,
which is, as always, self-luminous, of the form of existence itself
and bereft of both illusion and its negation, is recognized. When the
limiting adjunct, such as the body etc., is shaken off, the Atman
verily, becomes Ishwara. It is to prove conclusively that
Pratyabhijnaa is a valid means of knowledge that the Vedas have
described other means of knowledge such as Smriti, Pratyaksha etc.
A NOTE ON THE THEORIES OF ERROR
It may be useful here to discuss briefly the various theories
of error. Knowledge is of two kinds: Pramaa (valid knowledge) and
Bhramaa (illusion or false knowledge). Pramaa is produced by the
various Pramaanaas (valid sources of knowledge) and leads to
meaningful actions. Bhramaa, on the other hand, arises due to any one
of the several factors like ambiguous nature of the stimulus, defect
in the sense organ, physiological disturbances as well as mental
disturbances. A through analysis of Bhramaa was considered necessary
by the various schools of philosophy so as to prevent it or dispel
it, leading to the discovery of truth. For Advaita Vedanta, this was
absolutely essential since its entire metaphysical structure is built
on the theory of Maya.
The ofquoted and most widely discussed illustration of
Bhramaa is that of seeing silver in nacre, technically called Sukhti-
rajata-Nyaya. The various views of explanation known as Khyaatis may
be set forth below arranged in the alphabetical order.
1. Akhyaati (non-apprehension): According to this theory put forward
by the Prabhakara group of Mimamsakas, the erroneous perception of
nacre as silver comprises two separate factors, perception of the
object and remembrance of silver perceived elsewhere. The error
consists in non-apprehension of this separateness, and so mixing up
2. Anivarchaneeya Khyaati (apprehension of the indescribable): This
is the most accepted view of Advaita. Since the silver is perceived
in the nacre, it is not unreal. Since it is later sublated by the
correct perception of the nacre, it is not real rather. Hence it is
Anivarchaneeya or indescribable. The knowledge that arises out of
this perception is Anivarchaneeya Khyaati.
3. Anyathaa Khyaati (apprehension of other than what it is):
According to this view propounded by the logical schools of Nyaya and
Vaisesika, the error consists in mistaking one thing for other
(Anyathaa). The nacre is mistaken for silver, which it is not. This
view is also called Vipareeta Khyaati sometimes.
4. Asat Kyaati (apprehension of the non-existent): One school of the
Buddhists (nihilists to be specific) holds that there is only Asat
(non-being) and that all perception of internal and external objects
is erroneous. The non-existent silver is apprehended as if it exists.
This is called Asat Kyaati.
5. Atma Khyaati (apprehension of one's own mental state projected
outside): This is the view of another school of Buddhists (subjective
idealists) according to which, there is no external objective reality
at all. It is the subjective idea of silver that is projected outside
and seen as if existing outside.
6. Sat Khyaati (apprehension of the real): This view held by the
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, considers all perception as revealing
something real. Since both nacre and silver are ultimately products
of the five fundamental elements of earth etc., it is this group of
real elements that is appearing as silver.
This was a brief note describing the various views on the theory of
If, apart from the light of consciousness, nothing at all
exists, then, how does one proceed with the day-to-day life right up
to the teaching concerning the highest truth? Let us examine this!
Uncompromising Advaita goes so far as to deny even teacher-
disciple relationship as a product of Maya. But it also asserts the
importance of this stage, without passing through which, such a
realization cannot come. The commentary Tatvasudha quotes the
following verse of Sankshepasariraka (2.162.163): `Therefore, you
have to understand that it is Brahman, having attained the state of
the Jiva by Avidya, being established in your own form that has
produced this world of sky right up to the earth, by the vibration of
your own mind. Again, when knowledge arises in that Brahman by such
means as teacher, Veda etc., which are creations of its own Avidya,
then to him who has destroyed his delusion by the rise of this
knowledge, comes about the establishment in his own resplendent
form'. As long as Avidya or Maya has not been dispelled by Vidya
(knowledge of the one atman), multiplicity does appear to exist
giving scope to all activities of daily life.
It is the supreme Ishwara, who, by his own sweet will, sports
in the form of the deity and the worshipper, teacher and the
disciple, master and servant etc. He, who is the son to his father,
is verily the father to his own son. The same person, because of the
difference of words, is imagined to be different. Therefore, while
determining the nature of the highest truth, it should be remembered
that effulgence alone exists and that appearance of distinctions is
an illusion, imagined in the Atman due to Maya. Illusion
means `liable to be dispelled'. When perfect knowledge arises, even
the teacher, the disciple, the teaching etc., appear like a dream.
Like the icon of a deity, a picture or a reflected image, the Vedanta
also, though itself unreal, teaches about a real object. The icon is
not the deity. But, the deity accepts the worship of its icon and
grants the boons asked for by the worshipper. A picture of a tiger is
not the tiger itself. But it can give not only an idea of it, but may
even produce fear in the minds of children. The mirror image helps to
know if our face is clean and we clean it if needed. Similarly,
Vedanta also helps us to know and attain our Atman.
All this activity is a display of Maya. The waking up to the
reality of the Atman dispels this Maya, which is like deep sleep.
Maya is stated to be the name of that appearance, which is
incomprehensible to logical thinking. Being seen, it is not unreal;
being sublated, it is not real either. Like the dark shadow of the
sun, this Maya is not different from the Effulgence. Because it is
insentient, it is not identical with it. Nor does it comprise of both
because of mutual contradiction. The shadow, which is dark, is
completely different from the sun who is all-light. Similarly is Maya
different from the Atman, the effulgence? No. Then is it identical?
No, because Maya is insentient whereas Atman is consciousness itself.
Then, is it both identical and different? No, because two opposite
qualities cannot exist in the same object. It will be interesting to
quote here, the Vivekachudamani, a very popular work by Sri Acharya,
which gives a highly poetical description of Maya: `Avidya
(nescience) or Maya, called also the "undifferentiated", is the power
of the Lord. She is without beginning, is made up of the three Gunas
and is superior to the effects. She is to be inferred by one of clear
intellect only from the effects she produces. It is she who brings
forth this whole universe (108)'.
`She is neither existent nor non-existent nor partaking of
both characters; neither same nor different nor both. Neither
composed of parts nor an indivisible whole nor both. She is most
wonderful and cannot be described in words (109)'.
Since this Maya has no parts that have caused it to come into
existence (Maya is accepted to be begginningless by Vedanta), it
cannot be said to have parts. Nor is it partless since it has parts
in its effects. It is the cause that appears as effects. This Maya,
who appears when discrimination disappears, verily deceives the
Jivatman by her unreal dalliances. Some do not wish to cut down its
roots. In their case, how can the liberation of the mind come about?
It is the mind full of Vaasanas or impressions carried over from
previous lives that causes bondage. Hence liberation comes by
Manolaya, the dissolution of mind completely. All the three states of
mind, viz., waking, dream and deep sleep, being the primary causes of
the delusion of multiplicity, rotate like a wheel. As long as the
mind exists in the present form, the rotation of its three states
cannot be avoided. In these states, multiplicity is noticed, giving
rise to responses and reactions, adding fresh Vaasanas to the arsenal
mind. Thus, bondage is perpetuated. Though there is no perception of
duality in the deep sleep state, Avidya continues to exist in the
The mind performs actions and is also bound, due to these
states. The supreme Atman, who is other than this mind, is only a
witness of the mind. Actually it is the Jiva, a reflection of the
Atman in the mind that is meant here. Let me quote a verse from the
Brahmabindu Upanishad: `For human beings, it is the mind that is said
to be the cause of bondage when attached to sense objects, cause of
liberation when freed from them'. Consider this verse from
Kathopanishad: `Just as the sun, the eye of the world, is not tainted
by the external defects of objects seen by the eye, even so, the one
Atman, the inner self of all beings, is not tainted by the sorrows of
the world, since he is outside them'. The very fact that we can
analyze our three states of consciousness shows that we are the
witnesses of our mind.
Just as the sun is not bound by the actions of the living
beings, so also, the Atman, being the witness, is not bound by the
actions of the mind. Living beings perform good, bad or indifferent
actions in the light of the sun. But he is not responsible for that.
Similarly, the mind acts impelled by the consciousness of the Atman.
The Atman being only a witness, is never affected by these actions.
That the Atman performs actions, is bound or is liberated, is only a
figurative conception, a mere fantasy. When a red hibiscus flower is
kept near a crystal, the latter appears to have become red. When the
former is removed, the latter becomes clear again. To say that the
crystal became red and then was freed from that color is only a
figurative conception or a fantasy. Similarly in this case also.
The sun appears to be covered by smoke, clouds, dust and fog,
though he is untouched by them. Similarly, the Atman also appears to
be covered by Maya, though he is untouched by it. A boy circling
round a pillar in play, sees the world also as circling and the sky
as consisting of a number of moons. Similarly, the Jiva being deluded
by Maya due to the influence of past impressions, sees this world
full of various forms and activities. The sun, due to reflection in
water, appears to be many and also shaking. Similarly, the Atman, due
to reflection in the mind, appears to undergo transmigration.
He, who has emptied his mind of all sense objects through the
practice of yoga, that person, retiring from the illusionary world,
becomes a Jivanmukta immediately. The yoga that we speak here is
actually Nidhidhyasana contemplation on the Atman. Living in this
world had been necessitated by desires and attachments. When these
disappear, there is nothing to bind him to the world. Rising of the
Atma Jnana and liberation are simultaneous. There is no time lag
between them. It should be noted that liberation is not something
that can be obtained only after death. If that was so, the state of
Jivanmukta was impossible!
The Lord, out of Maya, became two birds united in friendship.
Enjoying the one Maya, though himself one, became many as it were.
Thus declare the Vedas. The ideas contained in two well-known
Upanishads have been brought together here. They are: `Two birds,
united in friendship, have taken refuge in the same tree. Between
them, one bird is eating the tasty fruit while the other, without
eating, is looking on (Mundaka 3.1)'. `A he-goat is lying with a
she-goat of three colors (red, white and black), who has given birth
to several young ones similar to her, enjoying her. Another he-goat,
after having enjoyed her, has given her up (Sveta 4.5)'. In both
these verses, the reference is to a bound soul and a free
soul. `Fruit' is the fruit of karma. `Ajaa', which normally refers to
a she-goat, also means the `unborn' i.e. Prakriti or Maya, which is
begginningless. The `young ones' are the created objects. The three
colors refer to the three Gunas.
It is now time to examine how this Maya can be dispelled. The
answer is contemplation on Ishwara. Out of the thirty-six principles,
which are like forms of the supreme Lord, eight forms are directly
perceived by all. The agama Shastra enumerates the total principles
of creation as thirty-six. Since it is Ishwara who has `evolved' into
this creation, all these principles are his Moortis or forms. A well-
known verse defines these forms of Shiva thus: `These are the eight
forms of Shiva water, fire, the sacrificing priest, sun, moon, sky,
air and earth'. Since the mind cannot quickly apprehend the
immeasurable principles, the Guru (here the guru is Sri
Shankaracharya or Lord Mahadeva himself) is teaching meditation on
the eight forms of the Lord who is the Self of all.
The meditator or Upasaka should imagine the identity between
the five elements in his body and the cosmic elements. He should
merge his Prana and Apana, the two vital airs in his body, with the
sun and the moon. He should consider himself as identical with
Parameshwara, the supreme Lord. This meditation of identity with the
Lord will gradually lead to the experience of that identity. The area
of operation of the individual mind is within this individual body
only. Therefore, the meditator should contemplate on this world,
which has Ishwara for its self, as his own body. To transcend the
body-consciousness and rise to identity with Ishwara, the path lies
through the body itself, by the meditation prescribed here.
The seven worlds starting from BhooH or earth are said to be
situated in the cosmos. They reside in the seven Chakras starting
from the Moolaadhaara and ending in the Brahmarandhra. One should
meditate that the seven worlds exist in the seven Chakras. The
backbone is said to be the great Meru, the various other bones the
Kula mountains, the nadis Pingala and Ida respectively, the rivers
Ganga and Yamuna. The Sushumna nadi is said to be the river
Saraswati. Other nadis are the other holy rivers. The seven dhatus
(skin, blood, muscles, fat, bones, marrow and semen) are the islands.
Sweat, tears and other excretions are the seven seas. Kalagni, the
fire that engulfs the world at the time of dissolution, resides in
the Moolaadhaara. The Vaadavaagni or the fierce fire residing in the
oceans is in the midst of the bones. The Vidyutagni or the fire of
lightening is in the Sushumna and Paarthivaagni or the fire in the
depths of the earth is in the navel. The fire of the sun is
established in the heart and the full-moon in the skull. The eyes, as
also the other senses, are said to be stars. Just as the worlds are
sustained by the winds, so also, the body is sustained by the ten
kinds of Pranas. The prana, in the form of the sun, having reached
Ida and Pingala which have risen from Moolaadhaara, and going out
through the two nostrils, disappears at a distance of twelve angulas.
The same prana, in the form of moon, enters into the body from a
distance of eight angulas, through the two nadis. Impelled by it, the
apana excretes faeces, urine, wind and semen. The Udana, taking the
combined form of fire and moon, reaching the passage of Sushumna
rises up to the Brahmarandhra, growing all the while. The Udana
actually becomes active during Utkraanti or the Jiva leaving the body
at the time of death. The Vyaana, always spreads the essence of the
food that is eaten in the body. The Samaana however, is always
engaged in maintaining the heat of the body. The Naaga causes
hiccups, Koorma causes the eyelids to open and close, Krikara
produces sneezing and Devadutta, yawning. The Dhananjaya causes
obesity and does not give up even a dead person! The Akasha is
responsible for space both inside and outside the body.
The sun and the moon who regulate time, are the Prana and
Apaana of the embodied beings. The supreme Lord is the Jiva or the
witness. In contemplating the eightfold form of the supreme Lord by
identifying the various parts of the body with their cosmic
counterparts, the mind has played a very important part. But this
gradually takes the contemplator to the state beyond the mind.
The disciplines, which can be achieved through the mind, are
said to be the Yamas. These are:
1. Peace of mind absence of distractions and excitement.
2. Contentment - with regard to the things of the world,
to be satisfied with whatever chance brings.
3. Silence controlling the tendency to speak
4. Control of sense organs keeping all the ten sense
organs, the five of knowledge and five of action, under one's
5. Compassion not going against any living beings, but
6. Politeness Dakshinya may also mean efficiency in
7. Faith in things ordained by the scriptures.
10. Forgiveness towards even those who try to harm.
11. Purity of emotions.
14. Remembrance remembering the intrinsic defects in birth, death,
old age, disease, sorrow etc. This helps in acquiring detachment.
15. Courage - this refers to energizing the body, senses and the
vital airs even in enervating situations.
Bath (physical cleanliness, as also keeping the dwelling place
clean), worship (of the God and deities), speaking the truth,
repetition of the mantras, oblation into the fire, obsequial
offerings (to the departed manes), austerities (of body, mind and
speech), giving gifts (to the right person at the right time and
place), forbearance (putting up patiently with all pairs of opposites
like heat and cold, praise and blame etc.), obeisance (accompanied by
the inner feeling as na mama `not mine but thine'), circumambulation
(to the deity, elders and the guru), keeping religious vows, keeping
fasts (according to one's capacity) and such other disciplines
pertaining to the body are called Niyamas.
The various Yogic Aasanas are physiological-mystical
exercises aimed at building up one's health and stamina as also
rousing latent psychic powers. They are expounded in works like
Hathayogapradipika and Gherundasamhita. These postures are grouped
according to the deities (Pancha Pretas and Sridevi). I have avoided
more discussion of these here. Actually for Niralambana yoga (yoga
that transcends the need for all kinds of support or symbols), not
having any support itself is the Aasana. Controlling the vital energy
is called Pranayama and it consists of Rechaka (exhalation), Pooraka
(inhalation) and Kumbhaka (of breath). Preventing all the sense
organs from flowing towards their respective objects has been defined
as Pratyahara. Fixing the mind in some support (like the Chakras or
on forms of the Lord) is said to be Dharana. Dhyana is similar to
Dharana, but meditation is continuous in Dhyana. Absence of all
movement in the Buddhi due to the perfection of Dhyana is Samadhi.
The first stage is the Savikalpa Samadhi, in which the division of
the knower and the known persists. In the second Samadhi, the mind is
dissolved in its cause and hence no vibrations of any type exist.
There, Atman alone shines.
When the mind becomes steady, the prana also becomes steady.
One should practice yoga along with Dhyana in order to steady the
mind. The emphasis should be on making the mind steady through Dhyana
and not indirectly through Pranayama. Bandhas, Kumbhaka (kevala to be
precise) and Khechari Mudra are the means of attaining this. When the
mind attains steadiness, and the prana enters the Sushumna, the
following signs manifest themselves separately, due to the conquest
of five elements. As a result of the conquest of the earth element,
excretion of faeces, urine and phlegm becomes sparingly low. Health,
lightness of body as also fine smell and golden color are other
signs. Not being pierced by the points of thorns, not getting drowned
in water, nor sinking in quagmire, forbearance of hunger, thirst
etc., are the signs of the conquest of water element. Consuming large
quantities of food and water, bearing the heat of sun and fire,
clairvoyance, clairaudience, these are the signs of conquering the
fire element. Hopping like a frog on the ground, flying in the sky
etc., are some of the signs of conquest over air element. Knowledge
of the past, present and the future, powers like Anima etc., are the
signs of conquest of Akasha element.
When the prana enters the Sushumna nadi, we hear eight kinds
of sounds: those of bell, kettle-drum, conch, sea waves, lute, flute
and cymbals. The Sadhaka perceives the form of Ishwara, shining
brightly like the fire and the lightening. As many times a man
breathes in a day, so many yojanas does the sun move in the sky
during each breathing of man. A man breathes 21,600 times per day of
twenty-four hours. So, the sun moves a distance of 21,600 yojanas
(each yojana being roughly equal to eight and a half miles) during
the period taken by one breath i.e. 4 seconds. This works to nearly
46,000 miles per second. In order to live in the body, the Atman
repeats the mantra, `So ham' `I am he', 21,6000 times per day. This
mantra, when the letters `sa' and `ha' are elided and the rules of
the Poorvaroopa sandhi are applied, becomes Pranava.
The Pranava consists of the letters a, u, ma, bindu and
nada. The chanting of this syllable will lead to the indestructible
(Akshara) result of knowledge of Atman. Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra,
Ishwara and Sadashiva are respectively the deities of these letters
Sri Mahatripurasundari chandramauleeshwarebhyo namaH !
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