[Advaita-l] Kanchi Maha-swamigal's Discourses on Advaita Saadhanaa (KDAS-67)
profvk at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 21 06:34:02 CDT 2006
For a Table of Contents of these Discourses, see
For the previous post, see
SECTION 50: ATMAN FULL OF LIFE;
NOT JUST AN ABSTRACTION (Continued)
Tamil Original: http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/dk6-124.htm
In order for that relationship and that life to show itself, the Acharya has
used the word 'svarUpa' in both places by saying 'sva-svarUpa avabodhaM' and
'sva-svarUpa-anusandhAnaM'. There is a double occurrence of 'sva' in
'sva-svarUpa'. The first 'sva' means "one's own". The second 'sva' means
"natural". So 'sva-svarUpa' means one's own natural form (rUpaM). It is
the natural, true, Atman, the form which is unmixed with mAyA, of the Jiva
that has an artificial form mixed with mAyA.
You may ask: Wherefrom did the Atman get a 'form'? Here 'rUpaM' does not
mean 'form' or 'shape'. Whatever is one's nature, that is called 'rUpaM'.
The derived word 'nirUpaNaM' (proof) is derived from the idea that proof is
nothing but a demonstration of the true nature.
[Note by VK: I am not translating here four or five lines
where the Mahaswamigal discusses the Tamil word 'uruvaM'
and its derivation from the Sanskrit word 'rUpaM']
However when we say 'rUpaM', our mind does not take it to be of an inert
nature but something which has life. For instance when we say "the musician
brought forth the 'rUpaM' of the rAga very well" we actually feel that the
rAga itself is a living soul. In fact we do that to every art form.
Science is never spoken of that way. Do we ever say "The Professor brought
forth very well the form of Physics"? The reason is that Science is not
thought of as a living thing like Art. I am saying all this because whenever
we speak of the nature of something in terms of 'rUpa', there is always some
connection with the concept of life. And when the prefix 'sva' is added and
it becomes 'svarUpa', it is generally taken to refer to something
substantial that has the Jiva-power. The very word 'Atma-svarUpaM' brings
to our mind something with life. The small word 'sva' indicates something
that is there naturally for oneself. And the words 'for oneself' also
connotes in our mind a sense of life for that thing.
We speak of life. Certain words have life! When we say sat-cid-AnandaM', sat
means that which is. The word 'is' means only 'is with life'. We speak of it
as 'Being', 'Existence' or 'Life'. The word 'Being' smacks academical and
may not have the connotation 'with life'. The word 'Existence' is still
more dry and metaphysical and appears to refer to life itself as inert. It
is the word 'Life' that indicates a living that is ticking and the word
itself has a poetic element in it. The word itself has life and so what it
represents also broadcasts the Jiva-essence. Similarly with the word
'svarUpa'. Mainly to make us understand that Atman is full of life, not a
dry principle, the Acharya has prescribed mumukShutA for the
*svarUpa-avabodha* (awakening to one's own natural state) and, after that
awakening, bhakti for the relationship of love of that *svarUpa* and the
continued mental communion (anusandhAnaM) with it.
Thus in both places the Acharya uses the word *svarUpa*. But further ahead
in shloka 32/33, he quotes a different opinion: "There are also people who
say that Bhakti is the 'anusandhAnaM' of the Atman-principle".
*svAtma-tattvA-nusandhAnaM bhaktir-ity-apare jaguH*
svAtma-tattvA-nusandhAnaM : The continuous reflection on the principle of
bhaktir-ity-apare jaguH : Others say (it) is bhakti.
The very statement "Others say" shows that this is not the contention of the
Acharya. His own contention has been stated in the earlier shloka as
*sva-svarUpAnusandhAnaM* (the continuous reflection on one's own Natural
Self). Right now he is being fair to the other opinion-holders who say it
is not 'sva-svarUpaM' (one's own natural Self) but 'svAtma-tattvaM' (the
principle of one's Atman).
What is the difference? All along we have been saying 'Love' 'Life' and
[Note by VK: The Mahaswamigal uses the word *Iram* in Tamil.
The literal translation of this would be 'wetness' .
But this does not make any sense in the English language. It is
surprising that the corresponding word which gives the meaning
intended in the context is 'warmth'
(of the heart)!]
In contrast the other opinion-holders contend that, keeping the Atman as an
abstract principle, continuous reflection on that principle (tattva) is
Bhakti. They do not hold the Atman, the goal, to be a living entity worthy
of being loved, nor do they hold the sAdhaka as a soul who dissolves in that
universal Soul; instead they hold that Bhakti is the continuous thinking of
that philosophical principle. One may ask: "When they do not agree with the
relationship with something that is living, how can they say that this
thinking of a principle is bhakti". Their answer comes from a narrow
interpretation of bhakti, which they hold to be only a one-pointed
involvement in one thing and nothing more.
RupaM is inherent nature. Tat-tvam is also the same. In fact it is
'tat-tvaM' that directly means 'inherent nature'. However,
'sva-svarUpa-anusandhAnaM' has an implied sense of internal dissolution of
the individual soul in the Universal source, which sense seems to be absent
in 'svAtma-tattva-anusandhAnaM'. It looks as if some inaccessible principle
is being experienced from a distance,
Whatever it be, The vote of the acharya is not for this. So why worry about
it? Let us not take just a dry involvement as bhakti, but take it as
something which is Love of a Living entity.
All this has been said by the Acharya just to show the second opinion
prevalent among advaitins themselves. In fact, it is this second opinion
that has been more popular! Many devotees of the Acharya and many disciples
do subscribe to that opinion! Indeed I myself started all this discussion by
asking the question: "How come he is talking about Bhakti in JnAna path?"
and am going through all this explanation !
The bottom line of all this explanation is: The thinking about the Atman is
to take place in the fashion of a relationship of Love. But the relationship
is not supposed to continue for ever. Instead of that purpose which involves
duality, the real bhakti is to desire to get dissolved in that non-dual
I hope you have now understood what it is to have bhakti towards nirguNa.
Also you would have understood why bhakti is the 'garIyasI sAmagrI' (the
heaviest accessory) for mokSha.
(To be Continued)
PraNAms to all students of advaita.
PraNAms to the Maha-Swamigal.
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