[Advaita-l] Vivekachudamani - Summary - Part II

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 7 01:29:13 CST 2014

continuation from part I
There are many methods for spiritual growth that are being offered all over the world, each claiming that their path is the right path and all other paths will take the seeker nowhere, if not to the eternal hell. Vedanta says for spiritual pursuit, one should have the needed qualifications, just like any other pursuit in life. For a car to travel on the road, it should be road-worthy. In every field of knowledge there are pre-requisites to pursue that field of investigation. For spirituality also there are pre-requisites and these are defined as saadhana chatuShTayam or four-fold qualifications for spiritual growth. Thus the desire for spiritual growth has to be backed up by the qualifications for that growth. Some are spiritually inclined and many are not. It is again considered as the gift of the merits of previous lives. These four qualifications are described in detail in the introductory verses.

Viveka or discriminative intellect involves development of the intellect to differentiate what is real and what is not real. The intellectual discrimination is required because a) the two (that which is eternal and that which is changing) are always together, b) one is of the higher order of reality compared to the other, like gold and the ring, c) That which is real cannot be perceived d) that which is perceived is not real. Hence one has to cognitively differentiate as they always occur together, and cannot be physically separated. They can only be intellectually separated.
Vairaagya or dispassion is looking upon everything as only a means for spiritual growth and not end by itself. In essence, all the human pursuits in life are only means for reaching higher and they are not end by themselves. However if I use them only as a means to attain moksha then that attitude is vairaagya. Renouncing the world is not vairaagya, unless that very action of renouncing helps my mind to divert my mind to the higher, then it also becomes a means. 

The six-fold discipline – shamaadi shatka sampatti - helps in integrating the mind in the pursuit of knowledge. Mind without discipline cannot focus on the subject of study, since it is the nature of the mind to constantly jump from one thought to the next particularly in the fields that it has intensive attachments. Such mind only gets dissipated without any accomplishments. Controlling the mind from sense object is called shama. Physically avoiding the environments that involves sense objects is called dama. Uparama is integration of the mind with the subject of study. Samadhanaam can be considered as the fruit of the shama and dama. When the mind and the sense organs are controlled from sense indulgence it is now available for higher pursuits. Redirecting the available mind for moksha becomes samadhanam. Finally mumukshutvam is giving moksha as the highest propriety and all other priorities become secondary. These four-fold qualification is called
 saadhana chatuSTayam. The four fold qualifications in essence are Discrimination, Dispassion, Discipline and Desire for moksha – the 4D’s.

Need of a guru:

Guidance is required in the pursuit of any knowledge and this is more so for spiritual knowledge. We have guides for playing tennis, doing exercises or even to do Ph.D. In the path of spirituality the teacher is given supreme importance only because the knowledge that one is seeking is the highest knowledge knowing which there nothing more is there to know, – yat jnaatvaa naaparam jneyam. Guru is also required since one has preconceived notions about himself, the world and Iswara. More importantly the truth that is being pointed out contradicts direct perceptual data. In essence what is seen is considered as not real while what is not seen or that which cannot be seen is real. Guru’s qualifications are also highlighted. He himself understood the truth and he should have the capacity to guide the disciple considering all possible pit falls that one can get into in the pursuit of spiritual knowledge. He himself should have learned from his teacher who
 has learned from his teacher. Thus a traditional teaching or sampradaaya teaching is also emphasized. The disciple has to approach such a teacher and ask pertinent questions that will help him to understand the truth. Hence Krishna says – tat viddhi praNipaatena pariprashnena sevayaa – to understand this higher truth, the seeker has to approach a teacher with an attitude of humility and ask appropriate questions. 

II- The second topic involves Vedantic teaching:

>From Verse 36 onwards the rest of the Vivekchudamani involves guru-shishya samvaadam or discussion between the teacher and the taught. Up to verse 71 Guru, considering the disciple’s position, assures that moksha is possible for him. The teaching begins from V 72 on up to V 222. The disciple asks seven questions and the well quoted sloka of Sishya (V51) is 

kO nAma bandhaH kathamesha AgataH
katham pratiShTaasya katham vimOkshaH|
kOsAvanAtmA parmaH ka AtmA
tayOrvivEkaH kathametaduchyatAm||

The disciple puts four questions that pertain to what is samsaara? How does it come? How does it grow? How does it go? Three questions are related to Attma and anAtma and their difference. Thus there are seven questions asked by the disciple. 

Guru praises him for crystallizing his thoughts and ask questions in cryptic form. 

In answering the questions the teacher rearranges the questions and first takes up the last three questions related to Atma and anAtma and their differences. This answer is provided in two forms. First, answer considers anaatma in terms of shrEratrayam, – the gross, subtle and causal bodies. Elaborate description is provided for each body. Such a description is needed since we identify ourselves with anAtma than Atma. Vivekachudamani provides an extensive discussion about the causal body based on scriptures, logic and experience. anAtma is next discussed from the point of pancha koshas and their relationship with the shareeras. 
We can summarize the common features of anAtma into five important aspects. 

1. dRisyatvam – experienced.
2. bhoutikatvam – material nature or objectifiable entities. 
3. sagunatvam – endowed with qualities
4. savikaaratvam – under goes modification
5. AgamApAyitvam – comes and goes or continuously changing – waking to dream to deep sleep states – each limits the other. 

What is aatma? One can provide opposite of the five aspects mentioned above for anAtma. Thus we have adRisyatvam, abhoutikatvam, nirgunatvam, nirvikaaratvam, nityam/sarvagatam (eternal and all pervading).

Continued in Part III

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