[Advaita-l] GYAnimAtra and the sthitapraGYa (was Re: FW: Avidya, Jnanis and SSS' views)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue May 4 21:12:47 CDT 2010

--- On Tue, 5/4/10, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com> wrote:

> Namaste.
> Here is an excerpt from the chapter 'Jnanin' in Book
> 'Exalting
> Elucidations', a compilation of several dialogues between a
> disciple and Sri
> Abhinava Vidyatirtha MahaswaminaH, the 35th Jagadguru of
> Sringeri Peetham:
> Disciple: Will a jñànin desire samàdhi? Is there any
> need for him
> to remain in that state?
> AcharyaL: A jñànin has neither craving for nor the need
> to remain in
> samàdhi. Be it samàdhi or distraction, they are mental
> states. He is beyond all these. Considering the depth of a
> jñànin’s experience of samàdhi, it is said that one
> jñànin
> is superior to another. This is with regard to an
> observer.
> That is, as far as an observer is concerned, gradations,
> such as, “He is a greater jñànin”, are there. But as
> far as
> the jñànin-s are concerned, there is no such
> differentiation
> at all. A jñànin involved in worldly activities is
> referred to
> as a brahmavid. If a jñànin has the practice of going
> into
> nirvikalpa-samàdhi and coming out of it on his own, he is
> a brahmavidvara. If he can be awakened from
> nirvikalpasamàdhi
> only by the efforts of others, he is a brahmavidvaräyàn.
> A
> brahmavidvariShTha is one who never emerges from
> nirvikalpa-samàdhi. His
> body perishes while he is in samàdhi. As a
> brahmavidvariShTha has the best
> pràrabdha, he is deemed the greatest jñànin.
> (Excerpt ends)

I have dealt with this in detail in my postings on the jIvanmuktiviveka (JMV). I'm mostly quoting from the past postings here.

Firstly, H.H. Chandrasekhara Bharati MahaswamigaL has written in his commentary on the vivekachUDAmaNi 271:

  idaMtu jIvanmuktiviveke vAsanAkshayaprakaraNe
  vidyAraNya-gurucharaNaiH vistareNopapAditaM
  'ko lokamArAdhayituM samarthaH' ...

  "This has been dealt with in the jIvanmuktiviveka of
  svAmI vidyAraNya, in the chapter on vAsanAkshaya,
  where he says, 'Who is expert in pleasing the world?'..."

That is just to show that the Sringeri AchAryas do respect the JMV as authoritative.

> The Jivanmukti viveka, the Yoga VasishTha and other works
> could contain the
> above or another type of classification.

Now, as to whether or not the JMV is referring to the first-person viewpoint of someone who has attained to saMyagGYAna or the third-person viewpoint has been clarified repeatedly in the JMV itself, e.g.:

  bhagavadgItAsu dvitIyAdhyAye sthitapraGYaH paThyate .

  arjuna uvAcha:

  sthitapraGYasya kA bhAshhA samAdhisthasya keshava .
  sthitadhIH kiM prabhAshheta kimAsIta vrajeta kim.h .. (GItA 2.54)

  praGYA tattvaGYAnam.h . tad dvividhaM sthitamasthitaM cheti .

  In the second chapter of the BhagavadgItA, the sthitapraGYa has
  been mentioned thus.

  Arjuna said: "What is the definition of him who is steady
  in the supreme knowledge and in profound meditation (sthitapraGYa)?
  O Keshava! How does he, whose intelligence is stable,
  speak and sit and walk?" (GItA 2.54)

  Supreme knowledge - praGYA, means the knowledge of
  Reality. That is of two kinds - Steady and Unsteady.

It is clear from the above that VidyAraNya takes "praGYA" to be of two kinds - sthitaM and asthitaM. The context of the Bhagavad GItA leaves no room for doubt as to the that this is Atma-GYAna.

VidyAraNya continues in the same strain:

  uktaguNarahitasya kenApi
  puNyavisheshheNa kadAchidutpanne.api tattvaGYAne
  gRRihakarmavattatraiva tattvaM vismaryate
  tadidamasthitaM GYAnam.h .

  Someone without such qualities as mentioned, but by the
  force of some merit, sometime may realize the Truth,
  but soon forgets it as the lover forgets the housework,
  and this is 'Unsteady Knowledge'.

Note especially the word "vismarya" - how can this possibly be interpreted as a third-person viewpoint?! Unless one can "forget" something in the third person, this makes sense only in the first-person viewpoint.

Besides, Ramana Maharshi has commented on more than one instance on this unsteady knowledge. A couple of instances are:

  "The seekers fall into two classes; kritopasaka and
  akritopasaka. The former having already overcome his
  predisposition by steady devotion, his mind thus made pure,
  has had some kind of experience but does not comprehend it;
  as soon as instructed by a competent master, permanent
  experience results.
  The other class of seeker needs great effort to
  achieve this end."


  Q: There is a statement in the book Vichara Sangraha that though a
  person realises the Self once, he cannot, for that simple reason
  alone, become a mukta. He continues to remain a victim of vasanas
  (latencies). Sri Bhagavan was asked whether the realisation referred
  to was the same as the jnani's, and if so why there should be a
  difference in their effects.

  M.: The experience is the same. Every person experiences the Self
  consciously or unconsciously. The ajnani's experience is clouded by
  his latencies whereas the jnani's is not so. The jnani's experience
  of the Self is therefore distinct and permanent. A practiser may by
  long practice gain a glimpse of the Reality. This experience may be
  vivid for the time being. And yet he will be distracted by the old
  vasanas and so his experience will not avail him. Such a man must
  continue his manana and nididhyasana so that all the obstacles may
  be destroyed. He will then be able to remain permanently in the Real
  D.: What is the difference between a man who makes no attempts and
  remains an ajnani, and another who gains a glimpse and returns to
  M.: In the latter case a stimulus is always present to goad him on
  to further efforts until the realisation is perfect.
  D.: The Srutis say: Sakrit vibhatoyam brahmaloka (This knowledge of
  Brahman shines forth once and forever).
  (Note: Above quote is from Chandogya 8.4.2)
  M.: They refer to the permanent realisation and not to the glimpse.
  D.: How is it possible that a man forgets his very experience and
  falls back into ignorance?
  Sri Bhagavan illustrated it with the following story: ...

Ramana Maharshi's stance cannot be misconstrued - he speaks of the "experience" of one who has had a "glimpse" of the reality, but yet forgets the Truth, as his mind is again clouded by ignorance.

The terminology needs to be clarified. Typically, the term "GYAnI" is used almost interchangeably with "sthitapraGYa" (one who has steady knowledge, synonymous with jIvanmukta). Ramana Maharshi's reference to "person who has had a glimpse of the reality" is precisely in reference to the "unsteady knowledge" of VidyAraNya, who prefers the term "GYAnimAtra" to denote such a person.



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