[Advaita-l] The Human aspect of Jnanis - 1

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Jul 12 01:04:04 CDT 2010


[ Starting a series on the topic of 'The Human aspect of Jnanis' with this
as the first post.  Actually this happens to be the last one in that
series.  However since Karthik ji has raised a question on the ego of a
Jnani, I am presenting this last post as the first in the series.  The other
posts in this series will be suitably renumbered and posted sequentially.
Hence, there might be some mix-up of my sentences regarding 'past' posts.
Kindly bear with that -  Subbu]

One would think that the Advaitic realization will leave one with no ego or
the ego destroyed.  That such is not a fact is very well brought out by the
scripture and the writings of the Jnanis. That the ego is very much there,
functions and accomplishes what the body-mind apparatus is destined to is
also clear.  In this part a few instances of Jnanis using the 'I', ego, in
their vyavahara are enumerated.  As long as a Jnani lives in the world there
is an inevitable need for him to interact with the world.  In this
interaction there is the need for the ego, for without the ego it is
impossible to interact.  If he wants something, food to sate his hunger, he
will first realize that he is hungry and then take steps to procure food.
He will have to ask someone ' I need food'.  Likewise, in any vyvahara he
takes up, there is no escape from using the ego.  Sri Ramakrishna says:  The
'aham' should not be give up totally even by a Jnani.  If there is no such
sense in him, people around him are most likely to take advantage of this
and use him even for their errands.  He calls the Jnani's ego: saattvik

All over the scripture we find Jnani's using the 'I' in places where they
refer to themselves.

   1. In the Bhagavadgita Bhashya, while writing the introduction,  Shankara
   says:  tadidam gitAshAstram samasta-vedArthasArasamgrahabhUtam
   durvijneyaartham.  .....viruddha anekaarthatvena loukikaiH
   gRuhyamANamupalabhya *aham* vivekato artha nirdhAraNArtham samkShepato
   vivaraNam* kariShyAmi.*  [Though, to afford a clear view of its teaching,
   the Gita has been explained word by word and sentence by sentence, ....by
   several commentators, still* I have found* that to the laity it appears
   to teach diverse and quite contradictory doctrines.  *I
propose,*therefore, to write a brief commentary with a view to
determine its precise
   meaning. ]

   In the Taittiriya Upanishad Bhashyam (II.8), the Acharya says, referring
   to Himself:

   //Objection: Because there are many opponents.  You are a monist, since
   you follow the Vedic ideas, while the dualists are many who are outside the
   Vedic pale and who are opposed to you.  Therefore I apprehend that you will
   not be able to determine.

   Reply: This itself is a blessing for *Me *that you brand Me as sworn to
   monism and faced by many who are wedded to plurality.  Therefore *I shall
   conquer* all! And so *I begin *the discussion.// His original words are
   even more striking: *'yEtadeva mey svastyayanam. ato jeShyAmi sarvAn,
   aarabhey cha chintAm.//  *

   This passage has an additional feature. Normally one would think that a
   Jnani, having obtained the Advaitic realization, will not have the notion of
   'another'.  In this passage, however, we have proof that a Jnani can and
   does have the notion of 'others'.  The word 'sarvAn' proves this.  Shankara
   sees 'others' as the ones to be conquered.  What is, however, to be
   remembered is:  The Jnani will not have the notion of the reality with
   respect to this notion of 'others', just as ajnani-s will have.  He knows
   where to use the 'I' and 'they' and what is the level of reality it
   carries.  Again, it is likely that some believe that the Jnani has one level
   of reality only - the pAramArthika.  True, his 'brahmabhAvanam' is advaita
   yet his  coexisting 'dehadhAraNam' is not without this vyvahaarika too.
   This coexistence is no harm to advaita; the vyvahaarika is known to him as
   mithya. These two are what are stated by Him in the Tattu SamanvayAt vAkyam:
   ....jeevato'pi (dehadhAraNam) viduSho ashareeratvam (brahmabhAvanam).  We
   can appreciate how the two bhAshya vaakyams of the 1.1.4 sutra and the
   4.1.15 sutra are so synchronised.    *
   4. In the Brahmasutra bhashya, concluding the AdhyAsa bhashya, the
   Acharya says:  // yathAchAyamarthaH sarveShAm vedAntAnAm tathaa
*vayam*asyaam shArIrakamImAmsAyAm pradarsha
   *yiShyAmaH *//  *[We shall *show in this discussion about the nature of
   the embodied soul, that this is the purport of all the Upanishads.]   Here
   Bhgavatpaada uses the first person plural to refer to Himself.
   5. The instances of the use of 'I' 'aham' are quite many indeed by
   Bhgavan Krishna to refer to Himself in the Bhagavadgita.

I am restricting the enumeration to just the few ones above, with a view to
show a representative sample.  In the sequel, concluding this series, let us
see some proof in the words of Shankaracharya for the manifestation of
emotions such as kAma and krodha in Jnani-s.

   1. The AparokshaanubhUti, a work ascribed to Shakara, contains this verse
   that teaches 'prArabdha'://Oh Bright one! Never losing sight of
   live the rest of the life experiencing the prarabdha in its entirety.  While
   doing so never give room for *anger, grief, etc*.  // 89.   See the
   crucial word ‘anger, etc.’  This is known as ‘udvega’ in Sanskrit.  One
   can see this word occurring  in the Gita multiple times in the context of
   jivanmukta lakshana. The original verse 89 reads: //AtmAnam satatam jAnan
   kaalam naya mahadyute . prArabdhamakhilam bunjan na
*udvegaM*kartumarhasi. //   There is a rule showing a defect, doSha:
   pratiShedhaH which means:  It is incorrect to prohibit something that is
   impossible.  To explain, no one can prohibit me from 'eating the moon' for
   the very possibility of eating the moon is not there.  Similarly, if there
   were no possibility of a Jnani of entertaining, manifesting, emotions like
   anger, grief and so on, Bhagavatpada would not say in that AparokshAnubhUti
   verse:  While living out the prArabdha, take care that you do not give room
   for anger, etc.  This advice by a Jnani, to a Jnani, shows beyond doubt and
   disputation that the Jnani's life does have the possibility of showing up
   these emotions.  We have already seen several instances to prove this in the
   earlier parts of this series.
   2. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad bhashya, while delineating on the
   mantra 1.4.10 where occurs the teaching 'aham brahma asmi', the Acharya says
   the Jnani will have vipareeta pratyaya and raagaadi doSha:  // yena karmaNA
   sharIramArabdham tat vipareeta-pratyaya doSha nimittatvaat tasya
   tathAbhUtasyaiva vipareetapratyaya doShasamyuktasya phaladaane saamarthamiti
   yaavat shareera paataH taavat phalopabhoga angatayaa* vipareeta pratyayam
   raagaadi doSham *ca taavanmaatram aakShipatyeva.  //  [Translation by
   Swami Madhavananda, Advaita Ashrama, p.115 - 116 :  // In other words, that
   resultant of past work which led to the formation of the present body
   (PrArabdha), being the outcome of false notions and the evils (of
   attachment, etc.), is able to bear fruit ONLY as such, i.e. as coupled with
   those (false) notions of and evils; hence until the body falls, IT CANNOT
   work that made this body has already begun to bear fruit and MUST RUN ITS
   COURSE like an arrow that has been shot. Therefore knowledge cannot stop
   that , for they are not contradictory.//

A small note on the above bhashya:  The idea is that prArabdha karma brings
experiences that are required to be experienced by the Jnani.  These
experiences are results of that very Jnani, during his life of ignorance,
now bearing fruit.  And this fruit, which he (his body-mind apparatus)
experiences will necessarily have the vipareeta pratyaya and raagaadi doSha
which had gone into while doing that karma originally.  Thus, Shankara
emphasises that the praarabdha bhoga of a Jnani will be characterized by
vipareeta pratyaya and raagaadi doSha.  What does this mean?  For instance,
if a Jnani is experiencing puNya prArabdha, He would plan to bring a number
of people into the fold of religion/spirituality.  This will entail seeing
'others' as ones requiring upliftment.  This is one example of vipareeta
pratyaya.  Why?  While the advaitic vision is unity, non-difference, this
seeing of others as 'they' is a vipareeta pratyaya.  For an ajnani, this is
a defect, a mark of ignorance.  However, for a Jnani, this is no harm; it is
the way it has to happen.

Also, these loka sangraha kaaryams of a Jnani will also involve raaga and
dveSha.  Raaga, liking, attachment, towards the cause he is espousing and
dveSha, aversion, hatred, towards those who create obstacles to the
fulfilment of the goal.  Yet, this raga and dveSha will not bind him as he
very well knows that these are just manifestations, false appearances of the
body-mind apparatus to which he is a witness.

Shankara hastens to add:  these 'defects' are ONLY to the extent of enabling
him to experience the prArabdha. Just a sentence later, in this bhashya to
Br.Up.1.4.10, Shankara talks about the possibility of past experiences
(pre-jnana) showing forth.  These will, again be seen as only seeming, by
the Jnani, adds Shankara.  Again Shankara reiterates, 'if a Jnani were to
experience samsara as before, really, he cannot be admitted to have secured
Jnana.'  Amidst so many assurances, Shankara makes out the case for the
Jnani having vipareeta pratyaya and raagaadi doSha.  One should read this
section in detail to capture the import of the discussion.

Having said this, let us recapitulate the key points of the series:

   1. A Jnani does manifest emotions
   2. These are never harmful to his Jnana
   3. These pertain only to the mind which he has known to be anatma, mithya
   4. Jnani A and Jnani B will differ in the intensity and management of
   these emotions
   5. This is what is the basis for the 'difference' among Jnanis
   6. This difference is not posited with any view on the ontology
   7. It is purely to show seekers (and Jnanis) that there is always scope
   for improvement in the sector of the mind-emotions.
   8. This is directly related to the bliss of Jivanmukti
   9. It has no bearing on the Jnani's liberation
   10. Ego, ahankara, is not lost for a Jnani; it is required for him to
   live out the prArabdha
   11. Vipareeta pratyaya and raagaadi dosha, characteristics of an ajnAni,
   will be there in a Jnani purely for the sake of experiencing the praarabdha.
   12. Shankara makes this point in unmistakable terms in the Br.Up.Bhashya

Om Tat Sat

[To be continued]

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