[Advaita-l] Meditation (dhyAna), knowledge (jnAna) etc. in Sankara's advaita

Bhaskar YR bhaskar.yr at in.abb.com
Tue Jun 10 07:37:03 CDT 2008

Hare krishna

The below is not a response to any on-going threads on yOga, dhyAna,
vastu-kartru tantra, samAdhi etc.  This is just my thoughts/understanding
which I would like to share with this forum.

First & foremost question I'd like to ask myself is, what is realization??
It is commonly understood that after putting-in multiple years of rigorous
sAdhana in the remote place of jungles, after observing severe austerities,
an aspirant having the *darshana* of his ishta dEvata in the divine form
or meditated form or getting into an oblivious state to external world is
realization.  Even our mythological parables too endorse these type of view
points.  With all due respect to all these divine darshana-s, sAkshAtkAra-s
& supernatural experiences, we, being vaidik dharma followers,  should know
what vEdAnta offers towards mOksha or realization.  In short, vEdAnta says,
eradication of ajnAna is mOksha.  ajnAna which binds us in saMsAra, ajnAna
which prompts us to think I am body, mind, intellect, ajnAna which empowers
us in each & every walk of our life should be completely eradicated with
the knowledge of absolute unity of Atman...If at all we wish to know the
meaning of mOksha/realization, this  is what we get from vEdAntantic

But interestingly, at the same time, advaita/shruti declares that we never
ever bound by anything & we never ever *get* that mOksha since we are
already THAT....shruNvantu vishvE amrutasya putrAH...shruti affectionately
calls us. Irrespective of cast & creed, shruti addresses us as sons of
immortality...mOksha is our own ever existing svarUpa, nobody can grab it
from us & grant it out of mercy at some point of time after repeated
bribery in the form of prayer, pUja, japa, dhyAna etc. etc. Ofcourse these
spiritual practices are required to clean up the garbage in our conditioned
minds. But as far as mOksha is concerned, it is indivisible & ever existing
non-dual nature of ours. The mOksha (the real nature of ours),  shines
automatically at once if we free ourselves from the ahaNkAra/mamakAra born
out of ajnAna. It is our unwarranted identification with the *life
situations* with ahaNkAra & mamakAra that binds us. If we are free within
ourselves and calm amidst the catastrophes of saMsAra, we are free forever.
So, strictly speaking, mOksha is not a goal or a special event  in our
lives but it is a way of life to be lived in its entireity.  This may sound
revolutionery, but it is a fact that vEdAnta repeatedly
insisting...realization is not a time bound event nor it is an individual
experience of some exalted beings, it is the true nature of everyone!!!

Yes, vEdAntic intuition should not be confounded with knowledge derived
from any individual intuition attained through penance in a particular
state.  Shankara is quite exquisite in his observation with regard to
this.In AraMbhaNAdhikaraNa sUtra bhAshya (2-1-14) he says : it cannot be
right to say that this absence of all human procedure is taught only
restricted to a particular state.  For being of the nature of the brahman
self, taught in the text *that thou art* is not consequent on *any one
particular state*. So from this it is quite evident that shankara here not
talking about any mysterious state nor he is endorsing that jnAna is
limited & result of experience of some trance state.  The jnAna that we are
figuring out here should be based on anubhava and this anubhava is not an
individual anubhava (vaiyuktika anubhava) it should be universal in its
nature.  Shankara points out this nn sUtra bhAshya (2-1-11): "taccha
samyagjnAnaM yEkarUpaM vastutantratvAt! lOkE tad vishaya jnAnaM samyag
jnAnaM iti uchyAte!! yathA agnirushNa iti!! tatra yEvaM sati saMyagjnAnE
puruShANAM vipratipattiH anupapannA".

Now comes the question, what is this vastutantra anubhava if it is not an
individual experience...Here is a relevant excerts from one of the works of
Sri Satchidaanandendra Saraswati Swamiji, my parama guruji :

// quote //

The word *anubhava* in Sanskrit is used to denote 'immediate apprehension',
by one of the senses or by the mind itself.  If it well-known how we intuit
colour with the help of the organ of sight and how we intuit joy or sorrow,
fear or curiosity without any assistance of reason.  All such intuitions,
however, are events in time, and so, they are all born and cease to exist
in time.  But how are we aware of the senses or of these sensations
themselves?? How do we come to know the mind or its intuitions themselves??
And how do we come to know the presence or absence of the mind itself
together with its various modifications??  The senses cannot objectifiy and
know themselves; nor can the mind know itself, and much less is it possible
for the mind to become aware of its own absence.  Nevertheless, it is
common knowledge that we do know when the mind or the senses function, or
when they cease to function, in such states, for instance as deep sleep.
Now this faculty which enables us to have this direct insight, is what is
called *anubhava* in vEdAnta.  This is what has been rendered by the term
*Intuition* here.

The sensuous and the mental intuitions can be remembered and recollected
when a person makes the necessary effort to do so.  ' I can quite recall
the colours of the rainbow', 'I can recollect the excruciating pain I felt
when I was operated upon' or 'I well remember the shock I felt on hearing
the tragic end of my friend' - these and other such statements of
recollection of sensuous and psychi experiences, we are familiar with in
every-day life, confirm this fact.  Now, the question is, what is It that
enables us to be aware of these temporary happenings without undergoing any
change in Itself??  This is what is called *anubhava* in vEdAnta.

// unquote //

Interestingly, the above observation of Sri SSS can be stretched to the
experience of nirivikalpa samAdhi also..Since the *experience* of
nirvikalpa samAdhi is mental & time bound event, it has been accounted
properly with date & time etc.  The experiencer is quite aware of this
event & can narrate this experience in a chronological order...like I am in
NS state on such and such date from 10 AM to 12 noon etc. etc.  He can do
this because it is a kartru tantra sAdhana & the experience of NS is the
result of kartru tantra dhyAna sAdhana. Whereas Atma jnAna what shankara
advocates is NOT subservient to an injuction of meditation. There is a
vEdic school at the time of shankara which propagates the theory that
brahman is subservient to vEdAntic meditation & mere SravaNa or study and
interpretation of vEdAntic texts would be of no avail, and that is why
after enjoining SrvaNa, the shruti enjoins both manana and nidhidhyAsana so
it concludes that SAstra is a means of right knowledge of brahman only
insofar as the latter is object of an injuction of meditation...No need to
mention, Sankara refutes this pratipattividhishEshavAda & dhyAna niyOga
vAda in his sUtra bhAshya.

But this does not anyway mean that there is no place for dhyAna in
shankara's advaita vEdAnta. Sankara do recommends dhyAna sAdhana for chitta
shuddhi.  In all through his prasthAna trayi bhAshya Sankara talks about
kartru tantra dhyAna, vastu tantra dhyAna & effortless natural dhyAna in
the form of jnAna nishTa. Since it is already getting lengthy, I donot want
to go into the details of those..In short, when shankara says dhyAnaM
chintanaM tadyapi mAnasaM it is only kartru tantra which results only in
mysterious individual experiences like samAdhi...Sankara says this samAdhi
experience does not remove the ajnAna..In sUtra 2-1-9 Sankara says : Just
as in the case of deep sleep, trance (samAdhi)or in any other similar
state, where there is the innate non-distinction, distinction reappears as
before as soon as one awake, for the simple reason that
*false_knowledge_has_not_been_wiped_off*.Sankara to substantiate his claim
quotes here chAndOgya shruti 6-9-2 also.

The difference between dhyAna (meditation) and jnAna (knowledge) is quite
subtle & Sankara makes it clear in Sutra bhAshya (1-1-4)that jnAna is vastu
tantra & dhyAna is purusha/kartru tantra.  This type of dhyAna is called
upAsana also in gIta bhAshya.  Here in this kartru tantra dhyAna, aspirant
engages himself in deep contemplation of one and an exclusive solitary
pratyaya...(a cognitive thought)..it will be like flow of oil (taila
dhAravat)that means without break anywhere in between.  patanjala yOga
advocates this type of dhyAna & says its result is *svarUpa shUnyata*...
Whereas the vEdAntic vastu tantra knowledge (jnAna) which is genuine
intuitive knowledge of an object *as it is* i.e. as it truly exists is not
amenable to be treated differently in the same manner as we do in
dhyAna...kartum, akartum, anyatha kartum is not possible in vastu tantra

Without knowing this subtle difference if we simply harp on these
terminologies, there is no purpose served & noway we can deduce a siddhAnta
that goes in line with Sankara's advaita siddhAnta...

Anyway, as said above, this is only my understanding & I humbly submit that
I donot have even an iota of aversion on those who follow patanjala yOga in
the name of Sankara vEdAnta.

Hari Hari Hari Bol!!!

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