[Advaita-l] advaita vEdAnta Unit (3)

Krishnamurthy Ramakrishna puttakrishna at verizon.net
Wed Jan 3 10:00:28 CST 2007

In Unit 2, we studied the role of karma in the cycle of births and deaths;

Desire is the driver of the karma that impels jIva in the cycle of births
and deaths.

The Rishis of sanAtana dharma have devised an exit strategy for a jIva to
escape from the

cycle of the law of karma. This strategy is a four step preparatory process
called "sAdhana chatushTaya" -

a four step spiritual discipline, followed by shravaNa (study of

manana (living the scriptures) and nidhi-dhyAsana (deep meditation on


The four step preparatory process is

1.	vivEka (discrimination of Real from unreal). 
2.	vairAgya (detachment or dispassion from sense objects) 
3.	shamAdi shat sampatti ( a collective group of six behavior traits) 
4.	mumukshtva ( intense desire to achieve permanent bliss). 


The sAdhana chatushTaya is described by BhagavAn Shankara in VivEka
ChUDAmaNI as follows;

' Adou nitya-anitya vastu vivEkah parigaNyatE

iha-amutra phalabhOga virAgah tadanantaram

shamAdi shatka sampittih mumukshatvam iti sphuTam " - Verse 19.


The first discipline is the discrimination between the Real and unreal. 

The next discipline is the detachment or dispassion from the enjoyments of
the world

here and after death (heaven). The third discipline is the practice of the
six behavior 

traits - shama, dama, uparati, samAdhAna, shradda and titIksha; the fourth

is the intense desire for escape from this samsAra or realization of the
divinity in her or him. 

The order in which they are stated is also very important as we discuss


The first step is to understand what is Real (nitya) and what is unreal

The mind generates several thoughts. The thoughts are debated internally in
the mind. 

Intellect helps the individual to  sort out the thoughts into right (of
having value) 

or wrong (not of any value). Accepting the useful one

and rejecting the useless is the discrimination faculty (vivEka). 

Any entity that undergoes change in time and space is unreal or anitya. 

An entity that remains unaffected in time and space is permanent and is
called Real or Nitya. 

In the context of jIva, jagat and Iswara (Brahman - Brahman is the vEdAntic
word for 

Iswara or God, not to be confused with the four headed creator brahmA), 

it is our experience that jIva and Jagat are affected by space and time; 

so they are anitya. The shruti declares that Iswara is unaffected by time

space (we have to accept the shruti here, since we do not have the ability
to determine 

he nature of Iswara at this time) and hence is classified as Real. 

This understanding that Brahman is the only Real entity and everything else
is unreal is viVeka. 

This is the first discipline in the pursuit of realization of Divinity.


The second discipline is the detachment or dispassion from the objects
around us, as these are unreal.

Obviously if the seeker has firmly accepted Brahman as the Real and
everything else is unreal, this 

leads to the second discipline of vairagya or dispassion towards those
unreal entities. This is possible

only if the seeker has developed vivEka as discussed above (for example if
we have the discrimination 

that spicy food is not good to our health, we obviously are indifferent
towards spicy food 

and develop detachment from it). Thus vivEka leads to vairAgya. 

That is why vivEka is prescribed ahead of vairgya. The dispassion in the
enjoyment of 

karma-phala (fruits of action ) in this life and after death-heaven - is the
discipline that 

follows from discrimination, since these are not lasting; The fruits of

finite karma are also finite and return from heaven to take another life is
inevitable ( kshINE puNye

marthya lOkam vishanti -after the good deeds are exhausted, the individual
returns to life of 

mortals , gIta, 9-21). The seeker having understood the temporary nature of
all kinds of happiness

derived from unreal entities, has to develop dispassion from such temporary


The seeker's determination to develop dispassion is challenged continuously
by the sense organs'

attraction towards sense objects. The third discipline - collection of six
traits - is the

next step in the preparatory process to fight the challenge of the sense
objects. They are


(1) shama - Control of the mind away from sense objects, and focusing on the
goal(here Brahman).

(2) dama - The sense organs are directed outwards, toward the sense objects;

so they naturally seek out sense objects. Diverting the sense organs and
organs of action 

away from the sense objects is dama. dama is complimentary to shama in that
, success in dama enhances shama.

(3) uparati - giving up desire oriented actions or karma; It is our common
experience that we seek out

activities that are helpful to us and avoid activities that are not helpful
or hurtful to us. Desire 

oriented karma is not helpful to seeking Brahman. Therefore a seeker of
Brahman has to give up desire

oriented actions.

(4) titIksha - is the forbearance. cultivating the ability to tolerate the
dualities of life, like heat and cold

pain and pleasure, profit and loss, friend and foe, honor and disgrace etc. 

These dualities are a part of life. Spiritual discipline becomes impossible
by being agitated by these dualities. 

BhagavAn Shankara describes titIksha wonderfully in vivEka chUDAmaNi as

' sahanam sarva dukhAnAm apratIkAra pUrvakam 

chintA vilApa rahitam sA titIkshA nigadyatE ' - verse 24

When various kinds of pain afflict a person, ability to forbear that pain
without any remedial action

and remaining unworried is tiIksha.

(5) shraddhA - The nature of Brahman cannot be understood by inference or
any physical or mental

effort. Brahman has to be understood only through shruti. Shankara describes
ShraddhA as unwavering

faith in the statements of shruti and guru ( a true teacher will only quote
from authoritative shrutis)

(6) samAdhAna - Seating the mind firmly in Brahman is samAdhAna. Cuddling
the mind with desired

objects is not samAdhAna.


The above six behavioral traits are collectively called "shamAdi
shat-sampatti" (six attributes). These 

are generally complementary to each other. Gaining strength in one will
enhance the ability of the 

other traits.


Now where to begin on the practice of these six traits ? Shankara, in Bhaja

describes in very simple terms, the practice of these six traits in the
following verse;

" sat sangatvE nissangatvam, nissngatvE nirmOhatvam

nirmOhatvE nischala tatvam, nischala tatvE jIvana muktih " - Divine company
will help cultivate

detachment and dispassion, detachment will eliminate delusion of mind. When
mind is free from delusion, a clear

and firm understanding will prevail, which takes a person towards freedom
from the cycle of samsAra.

This is the opposite (and positive) path of the gIta verse we reviewed in
Unit 2;

" dhyAyatO vishayAn pumsah....". In contrast to the description there of how
the desires will cause

a jIva to perish in the cycle of births and deaths, the divine company
suggested here will lead the jIva towards freedom.

Now what is a divine company? Any congregation that praises the glory of God
is a divine company-

like bhajan singing, vEda chanting, puja services at home or temple etc.
This is where we begin the 

practice of the six disciplinary traits. A totally dispassionate person will
accept outcomes of all actions

as God's prasAd.  He clearly understands that God facilitates success or
failure, as stated in gIta 18.-14;

" adhiShTAnam tathA kartA karaNam cha prithak vidham

vividhAscha prithak chEShTA daivam cha Eva atra panchamam" - In the
accomplishment of karma, the

five factors determining outcome are (1) the body or seat of action,  (2)
the doer, (3) the various sense organs

and organs of action, (4), various functions and (5) the presiding deity
being the fifth. 

When this conviction becomes firm, he is neither elated when success comes
his way nor worries

if he meets failure (na prahriShyEt priyam prApya nO dvijEt prApya cha
apriyam -gIta 5-20).


The impact of desire or dispassion on an individual is illustrated in Figure
2 at



The desires takes the individual towards destruction, 

while the dispassion takes the individual towards liberation. 


The infatuation with desire is interestingly described by D.V. Gundappa in
the Kagga as follows;

" bEku bEkadu bEku bEkidena-ginnodu

bEkenuta bobbiDutaliha ghaTavanidanu

Ekendu rachisidanO bommanI bEku japa

sAkenipu-dendigelO mankutimma "

---I want that, I want this and I want that other

    this body which hangs on to a continuous howl of wants

    why ever the creator made it - this incantation (japa) of wants

    when is it we would feel that we have enough - Thimma?


Such an avalanche of desires will not dry out at our will and an

immediate total dispassion may not be possible; 

The seeker tempers his desires and incrementally practices dispassion; over
a course of time, 

the desires subside and dispassion grows, ultimately eliminating desires and
firmly established in dispassion. 

This incremental growth is illustrated in Figure 3 at

http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/kramakrishna/figure3.gif ;

during the early years (or lives), desire and dispassion coexist, desire
trying to raise over dispassion.

 As he progresses in dispassion , desire subsides and is eventually
eliminated, paving the way 

for the next step of the discipline, the intense desire for liberation
(while desire for sense

objects is a road block for liberation, desire for liberation itself is not
a deterrent).


The fourth and final discipline is the mumukshtva - intense desire to exit
the wheel of samsAra  or the

cycle of birth and death. This is one desire that a seeker will find useful
in pursuit (unlike all other

desires of objects around us). One of Sri Ramakrishna's disciple was
pursuing spiritual discipline, but 

he was unable to make much progress. One day he asked Sri Ramakrishna why he
has been failing.

Sri Ramakrishna asked him to follow him and led him in to the middle of the
Ganges river. Right there

with the water up to their chest level, Sri Ramakrishna placed his both
hands on the head of the 

Disciple and pressed him into water totally immersing him. He held him there
for a few seconds

or so and released him. As the disciple came above water, the teacher asked
the student - what was one

intense thought in your mind during the time I had you in water, for which
the student replied; I was 

intensely praying that you release your hand away from my head, so that I
can breathe. Sri 

Ramakrishna, then replied- "your desire for mOksha should be so intense for
you to make progress".


These four disciplines are the pre-requisites, called "adhikAra" for
understanding and experiencing the nature of

Brahman. These disciplines constantly practiced will prepare the seeker for
spiritual realization. The

disciplinary steps will cleanse the mind of all sense objects and prepare
the mind for the steps of

sAdhana - shravaNa, manana and nidhdhyAsana.


       There are another two or three preparatory concepts we will review
before we take up the study of Jagat.


Om shAntih shAntih Om shAntih


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