[Advaita-l] Re: what is self-knowledge?

drganesh at vsnl.com drganesh at vsnl.com
Fri Aug 6 12:58:55 CDT 2004

What is atma gnanam?
We know from sruthi statements that atma or Brahman cannot be known as it is aprameyam[not an object]. It is aprameyam because it is nirgunam[no attributes] and hence agocharam[cannot be known by sense organs].Then, how does upanishad function as a pramanam to reveal Brahman? It does so in a peculiar method. It cannot reveal Brahman as an object, if it does it will then be jadam[inert] like any object. Actually Upanishad need not reveal Brahman because it is self-effulgent as the ever shining awareness ‘I’. On the other hand Upanishad itself is revealed by consciousness.

The problem is when I say ‘I’, the chaitanyam is self-effulgent but along with it, other things are also illumined by chith, and chith is never known in its pure form,it is only to be understood. The Upanishad has to therefore only negate the jada amsa which is shining along with ‘I’; it need not illumine the  I. If it does not do this, I mix up both and superimpose the limitations of the jada amsa budhi on me. After negating all, whatever is unnegatably left out, is atma ‘I’. It is not the object of your knowledge but the very subject. The unnegatable negator can never be negated. 

The word ‘self knowledge’ is therefore figuerative. Atma gnanam need not be attained at all, as illumination is required for something not shining, whereas atma is shining in everyone of us, it has to be only owned up by us. There is no knowing process. The sadhanam is only negation of anatma. One has to include ahamkara[ego] also in the anatma list for negation. Once this pramatrtva nisheda[negation of ego] is done, there is no struggle to know  and you remain as ‘triputti[triad] vilakshana’ atma which is the choiceless awareness.
The 7th mantra of mandukya is often quoted as a main pramana vakyam, I will also stress on the ‘pratiboda viditam matam’ of kena to arrive at the awareness sakshi.

The adyasa[superimposition] is done by the budhi hence the problem of limitation and bondage.The correction therefore has also to be done by the same budhi.Hence vedanta requires budhi.This gnanam cannot take place in nirvikalpa samadhi.Negation of adyasa is crucial in vedanta study, and not knowing the self as atma is ever shining as 'aham'-self-effulgent. 

Dr S.Ganesh


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