[Advaita-l] JIvanmukti - Jnana plus Sannyasa Pt 3

Shyam shyam_md at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 26 15:58:50 CDT 2009

So if the knowledge itself is not going to change, and mukti is not at hand, and any further action is not possible for a knower, as he knows himself to be a akarta on account of his right knowledge, then what further remains to be done? ... 


The answer is provided by both Shruti and Shankara – the Mundaka Up says - Those to whom the entity presented by the vedantic knowledge has been fully ascertained AND who ENDAVOR assiduously with the help of the Yoga of Monasticism (become free) – and Shankarra comments here that Monasticism is meant as a subsidiary of the knowledge of Brahman FOR ITS FULL MATURITY. A similar line of reasoning is used in the Brahmasutra bhashyas as well (BSB 3.4.20)… ...an injunction about steadfastness in Brahman HAS to be admitted..meaning that there is such a thing as steadfastness or abidance or nishta in the knowledge of aham brahmasmi. 


To be more clear, when we talk of ordinary knowledge – such as knowledge of an apple, we do not talk of this knowledge and then abidance in this knowledger as two separate things. But when in repeated instances, both the Shruti as well as Shankara talk about such a thing as jnana nishta – one has to understand that this is something that is being differentiated from jnana – i.e. it is something more than jnana itself. 


In the 18th chapter of the Bhagawad Gita, Shankara bhashya talks about this in very clear terms… 

“…..Even after removing the defects in the organs and the mind, there arises the possibility of acceptance of gifts either for the maintenance of the body or for righteous duties; discarding them as well, i.e. becoming a mendicant of the param-hamsa class; nirmamah, free from the idea of possession, becoming devoid of the idea of 'me' and 'mine' even with regard to so much as one's body and life; and for the very same reason, santah, serene, withdrawn; the monk who is effortless and steadfast in Knowledge, kalpate, becomes fit; brahma-bhuyaya, for becoming Brahman… he, the one who is of this kind and steadfast in Knowledge, labhate, attains; param, supreme; madbhaktim, devotion to Me, to the supreme Lord 

Opponent: Has it not been contradictory to say, he knows Me through that which is the supreme steadliness (nistha) in Knowledge? 

{Here the opponent asks about this thing called steadfastness - nishta? What is it? Is it not a contradiction in terms to talk of knowledge and then talk of steadfastness in knowledge? Is not knowledge so defined only when it is steadfast?} 

Vedantin: If it be asked, How it is contradictory? 

Opponent:  The answer is: Whenever any Knowledge of something arises in a knower, at that very moment the knower knows that object. Hence, he does not depend on steadfastness in Knowledge which consists in the repetition of the act of knowing.  And therefore, it is contradictory to say one knows not through knowledge, but through steadfastness in knowledge which is a repetition of the act of knowing. 

Vedantin:  There is no such fault, since the culmination of Knowledge-which (Knowledge) is associated with the causes of its unfoldment and maturity, and which has nothing to contradict it- in the conviction that one's own Self has been realized is what is referred to by the word nistha (consummation): When knowledge-which concerns the identity of the 'Knower of the field' and the supreme Self, AND WHICH REMAINS ASSOCIATED WITH THE RENUNCIATION OF ALL ACTIONS that arise from the perception of  the distinction among their accessories such as agent etc., and which unfolds from the instruction of the scriptures and teachers, depending on PURITY OF THE INTELLECT etc. and humility etc. which are the AUXILLARY CAUSES of the origin and maturity of Knowledge-continues in the form of the conviction that one's own Self has been realized, then THAT CONTINUANCE is called the Supreme steadfastness (nistha) in Knowledge. 


What does jnana nishta entail? Jnana nishta entails a continuous stream of thoughts directed at self-awareness. Just as a flickerless flame, the mind constantly and steadily resolves all thoughts of the non-self in the self in a absorptive Self-contemplation. 


In Shankara’s own words – “Yatha, as; a dipah, lamp; nivata-sthah, kept in a windless place; na ingate, does not flicker; sa  upama, such is the simile; yoginah, for the yogi; yata-citasya, whose mind is under control; and yunjatah, who is engaged in; yogam, concentration; atmanah, on the Self, i.e. who is practising Self-absorption.By dint of practising Yoga thus, when the mind, comparable to a lamp in a windless place, becomes concentrated.” 

and elsewhere - “steadfastness in Knowledge consists in being TOTALLY ABSORBED in MAINTAINING A CURRENT OF THOUGHT with regard to the indwelling SELF.”  This is of course a continuation of the process of nidhidhyasana. Shankara defines nidhidhyasana as nischayena dhyatavyah – meditation with intensity/determination. Sureshwara considers it a culmination of the process of shravana and manana – a process where in the perfunctory modes of thought that are opposed to Brahman are negated. Bh Ramana synthesizes the two beautifully when he says that when focuses one’s train of thoughts exclusively towards the Self the non-self automatically falls away. 


In the context of an unprepared mind that has acquired the knowledge of tat tvam asi (perhaps the vast majority) for this to be a uninterrupted activity every living moment of the day, becomes not just difficult but literally an impossibility, because of the sheer force of raga-dveshas which have not (yet) been appropriately sublimated prior to the onset of Vedanta vichara.  Here alone, nididhyasana assumes two roles – vasana kshaya and manonasha. Muktim prahih tadiha munayah vasanatanavam yat: The munis say what is called mukti is the attenuation of vasana. Vasanakshaya or durvAsanAkShaya is the eradication of our Ego – in particular its negative tendencies. These tendencies serve to hijack our thoughts and distract us from being focused towards the Atman. Once these vasanas are adequately purged, the mind is rendered incapable of again relapsing into the old mode of behaviour – thus rendering the mind infertile to sprout new weeds of vasanas is
 what is referred to as manonAshah. Even in the Brahmasutras we find that jivanmukti is said to be possible here itself ONLY IF there is absence of any obstruction - apratusta pratibandhe. His Holiness Chandrasekhara Bharati while commenting on the Vivekachudamani puts it thus : ata eva svanubhavah ityuktam, viparIta-bhAvanA-nivartaka-nidhidhyAsana-abhAve SravaNamananAbhyAm jAyamAna-anubhavah saushThvam nASnuta iti - Therefore is said svanubhava - as in the absence of the nidhidhyAsana which prevents thoughts opposed [to Brahman], the experience borne out of SravaNa and manana does not attain completeness / excellence. 


By vasanakshaya and manonasha alone is there a gradual removal of these obstacles. While the term manonasha is frequently thought to be post-Shankaran – we find reference to this in the Mandukya karikas - idam dvaitam manodrshyam - this duality is seen by the mind - when the mind ceases to be the mind manasa amanibhave dvaitam na upalabhyate duality ceases (Mandukya 3.31) Similarly atmasatyanubodhena na sankalpayate yada...when by the realization of the Self the mind ceases to imagine....and is endowed with discrimination..Mandukya 3.32-33) Shankara also talks about this in relation to sattvika buddhi in the BG 18th chapter - Yat, that joy which is; iva, like; visam, poison, a source of pain; agre, in the beginning-when it first comes in the EARLY STAGES OF KNOWLEDGE - detachment, meditation and absorption - since they involve great struggle; but amrtopamam, comparable to nectar; pariname, IN THE END, when it arises from the MATURITY OF knowledge,
 detachment, etc.; and which atma-buddhi-prasadajam, arises from the purity (prasada), trasparence like water, of one's intellect (atma-buddhi); - 'arising from the high degree of clearness of that atma-buddhi (knowledge of or connected with the Self)'; 


In his treatise Aparoksha anubhuti Shankara asserts thus: 

Blessed dhanyaah indeed are those who at first know(vijaananti) the (self as) Brahman (i.e. are Knowers) AND having known (jnatva), develop it more and more (vardhayanti). 

The usage of the term vijanati clearly indicates a Self-knower – someone who has clearly discerned the Self from the non-Self. This very same Knower is now being asked to develop this knowledge by means of concentration. Then what? – the differentiation between this type of Knower who develops his knowledge into maturity i.e. jnananishta by a long and deliberate process of steadfast and incessant absorption in this knowledge, and the other type of Knower, who though knowing does not, because of attachment, allow this to happen is now being clearly mentioned -  


They, in whom this consciousness of Self (vrttih) being ever present grows into maturity (paripakka), ONLY THEY attain to the state of Brahman (praptah sadbrahmataam); OTHERS merely deal with words!(shabdavadinah) Such persons are only clever in discussing about Brahman (kushala Brahmavaartaayam) but have no realization (vrtti-heenah), suraaginah being attached (to the world) they too as a consequence of their ignorance are born and die again and again. 

(to be continued)

Hari OM
Shri Gurubhyoh namah


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