manana and Atma vichAra (was Re: [Advaita-l] RE: Advaita-l Digest, Vol 37, Issue 11)

Amuthan aparyap at
Sat May 13 02:07:04 CDT 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear shrI rAmakRShNan bAlasubrahmanyan,

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
<> wrote:
> [...]
> Take any random
> page in the talks and it's a good bet you'll find
> that RM advising
> someone or the other that a) the self cannot be
> rejected and b) the
> self is already realized, realization is the very
> nature of the self,
> the key is to *lose* the delusionary thinking. This
> sums up the
> soteriology of sha.nkara also.

true. but my point is that *during* Atma vichAra
according to RM, there is no such thinking as is
recommended in parisa~NkhyAna. 

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
<> wrote:
> That being the case how can aatma vicaara be
> investigation into
> something without presupposing its nature? Clearly
> the enquiry is
> about the aatman which cannot be rejected. 

it is only necessary to know that the self, which is
of the nature of infinite bliss, can be attained by
Atma vichAra. it is not necessary to know other
attributes such as achalatva, asparshatva etc. though
such an understanding is helpful. it should be noted
that none of these are actually employed during Atma

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
<> wrote:
> [...]
> Perhaps some quote could be
> misinterpreted this way (when taken out of context)?
> Can you tell me
> why you came to this conclusion. I have read most
> book published by
> the aashram multiple times and never thought of
> aatma vicaara in this
> way.

the quote i provided earlier is neither out of context
nor wrongly interpreted. in fact, to validate my
point, let me show another verse from the same work
which expresses the same idea, (uLLadu nARpadu, 29)

'nAnenRu vAyAl navilAdu uL AzmanadAl
 nAnenRu  e~Ngu undum ena nADudalE ~nAnaneRi
 aam anRi anRu idu nAn aam adu enRu unnal tunai
 aam adu vichAram AmA? (adanAl mImuraiyE)'

'(ignoring the body as if it were a corpse) not even
uttering (the word) 'i', dive deep within with your
mind and search for the source of the 'i'. this indeed
is the path of knowledge. instead, to think 'i am not
this, i am that' is helpful, but is that vichAra?'

this is certainly not an arbitrarily picked up verse.
RM confirms the same after 2 verses and that was the
verse i quoted previously. 

is this vichAra done with shruti vAkyAs or with any
shruti based manana or with an intention of
reconciling various views about the self in the
shrutIs? NO. for in the preceeding verse, bhagavAn
clearly states the actual process of Atma vichAra as

'ezumbum agandai ezum iDattai nIril
 vizunda poruL kAna vENDi muzugudal pOl
 kUrndamatiyAl pEchu mUchu aDakki koNDu uLLe
 Azndu aRiya vENDum aRi (pinampOl tIrnduDalam)'
'just like one who dives deep within to search for
something lost in water, restraining speech and
breath, one should dive deep within with a sharp mind
and seek the source wherefrom the ego arises.'

from the above, it should be clear that there is no
scope for the traditional manana in RM's Atma vichAra.
to reiterate the main point, Atma vichAra consists NOT
in restraining thoughts based on a knowledge of the
self from shrutIs namely that it is achala, asparsha
etc. rather, it is a deep search WITHOUT giving room
to any other thought. in traditional manana, the mind
is not fully restrained from all possible thoughts. it
is instead made to think and reason along a particular
series of thoughts based on shruti and universal

moreover, the vichAra mentioned in verse 28 is *the*
form of vichAra that bhagavAn recommends at various
places. in fact, He Himself underwent the exact
process at His uncle's house at madurai before
realizing the self. RM has faithfully taught us what
He directly experienced.

it is for these reasons that i think that RM's Atma
vichAram is quite different from the traditional
manana which is characterized by an effort to gain a
(mere) intellectual conviction regarding the nature of
the self and the not-self.

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
<> wrote:
> In fact, RM in many places defines aatma vicaara as
> merely "observing"
> the origin of the ego. The object portion of the I
> is mixed up with
> the subject portion of I and "separating" the two is
> only aatma
> vicaara. That is what is meant by observing the
> origin of the ego.

true. but this observation is done after restraining
speech and breath. there is no room for any other
thought. this is *pure* observation. 

one of the best ways to understand bhagavAn's process
of Atma vichAra is to read His own account of how He
realized the self. it gives a lot of insight into the
process of observing the ego.

if you think i've missed anything, kindly help. 

--- Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian
<> wrote:
> In any case, the "nature" of the self is best
> described by the
> neti,neti procedure as per shankara.

true. what i meant by nature of the self in the
previous post was an understanding of the form
'avyakto.ayam achintyo.ayam avikAryo.ayam uchyate.
tasmAdevaM viditvainaM nAnushochitumarhasi.' (B.G.
2.25) etc. it is this form of an intellectual
understanding that is necessary for parisa~NkhyAna,
but not so for RM's Atma vichAram. 

i hope i have clearly conveyed my point.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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