[Advaita-l] A Perspective - 26

Kuntimaddi Sadananda ksadananda108 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 25 21:05:41 CDT 2010

*Obstacles to Self – Realization-5*: We are discussing the obstacles for
self-realization based on the Krishna’s statement in Gita 4-40, where He
states that 1. avidya (ignorance), 2. ashraddhaa (faith), 3. samShaya
(doubt) form there major obstacles. Here samshaya or doubts are concerning
the validity of the pramANa, that is Vedanta PramANa, as a means of
knowledge. Doubts of a student related to his understanding of the teaching
must, of course, be cleared by asking his teacher. Those doubts are normal
and valid, as Arjuna did. Therefore in the above sloka we are not referring
to those doubts, but the doubts related to the validity of Vedanta it self,
and the truth revealed by the Vedanta. Here the pramaaNa or means of
knowledge is Vedanta mahaavaakyaas or aphoristic statements that equate the
individual soul to the totality.

If we say that Vedanta is the only pramaaNa, then question can be asked
about other religious masters who have not studied Vedanta or do not accept
Vedantic teaching. For this our answer is that Vedanta is a science, and
therefore we accept statements of any religious teacher that agrees with the
science of Vedanta – in essence it is the teaching that agrees with the
oneness of the substantive of individual, world and Iswara. It does not
matter who says it, the truth is the truth and that is the nature of any
science, including Vedanta. Since this statement of identity of subject, I,
the world, and the creator of the world, Lord, cannot be established by any
other way or any other pramaaNa other than by Vedanta, it becomes a pramANa.
This is the ultimate knowledge, veda anta, knowing which every thing else is
as well known. The philosophies that differentiate jiiva, the individual,
jagat, the world, and Iswara, the God or the paramaatma or the total self
(whether they are based on Vedas or not), are tentatively accepted only as a
stepping stone, until the mind of the student becomes mature enough to
reject such a dualistic philosophies and ascertain the oneness implied in
the identity relation. This method of approach is called adhyaaropa
apavaada, that is, tentative acceptance and subsequent rejection as
suggested by the Vedanta itself. Scripture itself uses this methodology as
in the example of pancakosha vivarana in Tai. Up. Here, initially, each
kosha is considered as aatma, and it is subsequently negated in preference
to the next subtler kosha, until one arrives at the pure sat-chit-ananda
swaruupa aatma. Hence all philosophies, Vedic or non-Vedic, are tentatively
accepted as preliminary or preparatory technology for the mind (chitta
suddhi), but freedom or moksha can be recognized only by the teaching of
mahaavaakya, tat tvam asi or you are that totality. This is not a fanatical
statement but a statement of a fact, since one cannot be free unless one
becomes limitless and one cannot become limitless unless one already is –
and that teaching that provides this understanding of advaita or non-duality
is Vedanta. Any dvaitic philosophy will not lead the seeker to moksha, since
moksha by definition involves freedom from all limitations. In dvaita, each
limits the other; hence neither one can be limitless. Furthermore, that the
truth is something else beyond me is illogical, since I can negate
everything else other than myself, as in deep sleep state. The thing that
can never be negated alone is the absolute truth, which is called Brahman.
Hence logically also I cannot but be Brahman. If I have doubts about this
fundamental truth, then Krishna says there is no salvation either here or in
the higher lokas – na ayam lokaH asti, na paraH, na sukham, samshayaatmanaH|

Hence Krishna’s strong statement that those who have doubts about the
teaching itself therefore do not attempt to purify themselves to appreciate
this teaching. Hence they will neither achieve in the material world or in
the spiritual world. They loose out in the material world also as their
extroverted minds get cocooned in the sensuous fields contributing only to
their further down-fall. One falls deeper into the ocean of samasaara -
kRitimahodadhou patanakaaraNam – says Bhagavaan Ramana. One gets caught up
and moves from one whirl-pool to the other -says Shree Vidhyaaranya in

Since one has to have clear understanding of identity relation between
individual and the total as the essential truth (mahaavaakya), and if there
are exceptional cases of religious masters who have not apparently gone
through Vedantic shravana-manana-nidhidhyaasana, it is implied that they
must have been exposed to that knowledge in the last life. Shree Krishna, in
fact, declares that those who have progressed spiritually in this life but
due to some obstacles have not realized, they will be born in the next life
in a conducive environment that helps them in their rapid progress. He says
that such a birth is rear indeed. This may sound like begging an issue, but
the fact remains that there is no freedom for an individual soul unless he
recognizes that he is indeed limitless, i.e. aham brahmaasmi has to be
understood, in one way or the other. The teaching of that absolute truth is
Vedanta or the ultimate knowledge. (Here I am giving a broader definition of
Vedanta as that which teaches the identity or oneness of jiiva-jagat-Iswara,
which are called mahavaakyaas). Hence Shankara says in VevekachUDAmaNi: na
yogena na saankhyena karmaNaa no na vidyayaa| brahmaatmaikatva bodhena
mokshaH siddhyati, na anyathaa| Neither yoga, sankhya, karma, or mere study
of scriptures gives the freedom. Only thing that liberates an individual is
a clear understanding of the identity of individual soul and Brahman as
advaita, and nothing else.

In the previous posts, we have presented the three major obstacles to
spirituality, based on Gita. Goudapaada in his Mandukya Kaarika in advaita
prakaraNa considers four more obstacles for spirituality.  Before we go into
this analysis we will first recognize that the aatma vidya or knowledge of
advaita provides two fold benefits for the seekers. One is the owning up
one’s own freedom from limitations, which is primary and that is jnaanam.
The second is an emotional transformation of the mind. This is called jnaana
phalam or fruits of the jnaana. As a result of jnaanam, the mind of a jnaani
becomes strong, healthy with no emotional disturbances when faced with the
objects, people or course of events due to praarabda, which can be
pleasurable or painful, during the span of his remaining life. This
emotional transformation or freedom is the secondary benefit or avantara
phalam and contributes to his jiivan mukti. Even though scriptures talk
about the emotional benefits like calmness, contentment, fearlessness,
compassion, love, etc – all these emotional benefits are not derived
uniformly by all the Vedantic students. All the students do not derive the
benefit of the jiivanmukti, even though the teaching was the same for all
students, that too by the same teacher, as one finds for the students in
Kenopanishad. The disparities among the students arise due to differences in
their mental preparations. There is a gradation in the fitness or
qualification or adhikaaritvam or in the required saadhana chatuShTaya
sampatti among the students, and therefore the fruits of jnaana are also
graded. Hence saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti plays a great role in aatma
vidya. Goudapaada classifies students broadly into three categories – manda,
madhyama, and uttama - depending on their maturity or on their four-fold

For manda, Vedanta does not produce jnaanam or jnaaa phalam (jjivan mukti).
For uttama adhikaari, he gets both jnaana and jnaana phalam, just by
listening to the teachings, shravanam and mananam. The uttama adhikaari
student is like Nachiketa of KaThopanishad.  We are not concerned about this
uttama adhikaari.  The discussion is therefore about the other two, madhyama
and manda. For majority of us who are in the middle or madhyama, Vedantic
knowledge is received. We have no doubts whatsoever. That is we understand
Vedanta. Jnaanam is there, but this knowledge does not result in emotional
transformation or derive the benefits at the emotional level. The knowledge
is full, but jiivan mukti is not there. Jnaanam and samsaara seem to
co-exist for us. For jnaanam to get transformed into jnaana phalam, the
obstacles preventing the transformation have to be slowly resolved. This is
the role of Nidhidhyaasanam. Here the intellect and the mind are still
diverged resulting in having knowledge but that knowledge is getting blocked
at emotional level by the pressure of the remnant vaasanaas. Such a
dichotomy seems to be there – knowledge is full but no jiivan mukti –
jnaanam and samsaara seemingly co-existing together.  This is because of
incomplete saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti or the four fold qualifications.
Let us take a simple illustrative example for this. Let us say we have a
tank full of water, but no water is coming when we open a tap. Obviously
there must be some block preventing the water in the pipe line.  To solve
this problem, what is required is not adding more water into the tank, but
removing the block that is preventing the water from gushing through the
pipe-line. Similarly in the aatma vidya, the cause for the block is
insufficient preparation or jnaana yogyataa. This required jnaana
vairaagram, that is knowledge generated dispassion, is not fully developed
giving rise to raaga and dvesha or likes and dislikes, which still control
the mental moods. It is like I know smocking is bad (knowledge is there) but
I am still tempted to smoke when I smell a cigarette. Thus habits of the
past still haunt the mind. Krishna calls this as rasa or lingering taste for
sensuous enjoyments.  He gives a method of overcoming them too, which we
will discuss later. In Ch. 4, He suggests knowledge based dispassion or
jnanena karma saynaasaH, or in shot, jnaana-karma-sanyaasa yoga, as the
title of the chapter suggests. This is also called vidvat sanyaasa. Here the
dispassion is generated by the emotional mind abiding in the intellect that
has clear understanding of the mahaavaakya. For nidhidhyaasana, is bhoutika
or physical sanyaasa necessary? We will address this question in detail in
the next post. For the time being we understand that Saadhana chatuShTaya
sampatti is necessary, and all other things are only instrumental or helpful

Now the question is what the remedies are. For uttama adhikaari, there is no
problem and therefore his case is of no concern to us. In the case of manda
adhikaari, the saadhana sampatti level is very low. Hence the saadhaka or
seeker has to concentrate on the karma yoga and the upaasana yoga, which
will prepare the mind to gain the knowledge.  For him the Vedantic study
will have less impact compared to karma yoga and upaasana yoga. We do not
have to tell him that he need not have to attend the Vedanta classes. Many a
time he automatically drops them because the mind is not ready to hold on to
the teaching due to his extroverted-ness. We hear people saying that they
want to attend the Vedanta classes, but they do not have time; implication
of this being the study of Vedanta is not of their priority. Some even do
not want to hear about it thinking that this is only for the old or retired
people, who have nothing else to do.  Krishna gives the statistics – of the
thousands of people, very few are really interested in this teaching. Of
those who are interested, very few make an attempt to realize, and of those
who make an attempt very few really succeed- manushyaanaam sahasreshu….Hence
for manda adhikaari, even if he attempts Vedanta study, the shravana itself
becomes another form of karma yoga, as purifier for the mind. The process
will continue until his mind becomes more mature when he starts recognizing
that Vedantic study is more important than any other activity in life, and
hence his priorities change. From the initial state where he felt that he
did not have time for Vedanta, he evolves to the state where he feels that
he does not have time or interest for other things in life. His mind is
becoming more mature. Vedanta refers to such a mind only in the Mundaka
sloka – pariikshalokaan karma chitaan brahmano… –the one who has recognized
the futility of extroverted life-pursuits in giving eternal happiness – the
advise of the Upanishad is for him to approach an aachaarya for serious
Vedantic study.

Madhyama adhikaari has the ability to receive the knowledge. He is the one
who says I understand Vedanta, but…That –but- means there is no difficulty
in receiving the knowledge but jnaana phalam or jiivanmukti status is not
derived. This madhyama adhikaari need not have go back to karma yoga and
upaasana yoga. He can keep doing whatever he is doing as his daily routine
without the need of any special concentration on extra karma yoga. What is
required now is Nidhidhyaasanam to internalize the teaching. The saadhana,
now in the form of nidhidhyaasana, will convert him from madhyama to uttama
adhikaari – the block gets freed- jaanam itself converts into jnaana phalam.
 We will now look into what is involved in Nidhidhyaasanam.


Nidhidhyaasanam depends on manonigraha, that is, control of the mind. The
reception and conversion of the knowledge both depend on the control of the
mind, which is one of the six mental disciplines, shaadhana shatka sampatti.
Of these, shama is manonigraha or mental discipline. Here it represents the
entire saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti too, that is, all the four-fold
disciplines. The lack of this mental discipline expresses in many ways.
First it expresses in terms of a sense of insecurity for myself, and then
for my-people who depend on me. It is essentially a manifestation of
ahankaara and mamakaara. Knowledge should give freedom from this sense of
insecurity -abhayam pratishTaam vidate, says Ti. Up. The second expression
of this insufficient preparation is lack of freedom from sorrow due to
things, people and their behavior around. This results in lack of peace of
mind. Jnaanam should give ever lasting peace – shatam-shivam advaitam .

Jnaani will have everlasting peace – peace that paasth understanding. Others
get peace of mind occasionally when things are conducive to their likes.  All
the three noted above put together (i.e. sense of security, freedom from
sorrow and peace of mind) is jnaana phalam. Thus both jnaanam and jnaana
phalam depend on the saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti. There are no exceptions
to this. How do we know we have the requisite saadhana chatuShTaya sampatti?
In olden days when the student used to live with the teacher, by observing
the student for a length of time, the teacher would find out. The teaching
is given only for those students who are ready. At present times, where we
do not have such gurukula systems, we need to evaluate ourselves. Two
questions to be answered; one is how to get the saadhana chatuShTaya
sampatti and second how to check what we have is what it requires. We will
discuss these in the next post.

Hari Om!


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