[Advaita-l] How can prANa be Brahman?

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Mon Sep 12 03:57:24 CDT 2016

I generally agree with Sri Chandramouliji's comments, but I differ slightly
when he says that the state of the jIvanmukta is the highest goal to be
sought after.

Generally in shAstra, jIvanmukti is described as a state of mind. This kind
of description tends be relatively prevalent (वीतरागभयक्रोध:, तुल्य
प्रियाप्रियो धीर:, etc) . This mental liberation is very relatable,
understandable and desirable - it is very important for vyavahAra and the
shAstra is right in prescribing a focus on keeping the mind relatively free
from the grips of rAga dvesha - it does not want vedAntins to be
yatheshTAchAris! However, that mental liberation is not the tAtparya of
shAstra. The real tAtparya of shAstra is spiritual liberation, which is the
freedom from transference of the states of the mind to oneself. Out of
sheer coincidence, I came across the bhAshya of Bhagavat Gita 14.22 which
is very relevant to this discussion

Here Shankaracharya contrasts the state of mind of a person who wants
mental liberation (that the mind should be free from anger, sadness, rAga,
dvesha etc) from the guNAtIta:, the spiritually liberated person. This
sloka is given by Bhagavan in response to Arjuna's question- what are the
indications of a guNAtIta?

प्रकाशं च प्रवृत्तिं च मोहमेव च पाण्डव ।

न द्वेष्टि सम्प्रवृत्तानि न निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति ॥ २२ ॥

प्रकाशं च सत्त्वकार्यं प्रवृत्तिं च रजःकार्यं मोहमेव च तमःकार्यम् इत्येतानि
न द्वेष्टि सम्प्रवृत्तानि सम्यग्विषयभावेन उद्भूतानि — ‘मम तामसः प्रत्ययो
जातः, तेन अहं मूढः ; तथा राजसी प्रवृत्तिः मम उत्पन्ना दुःखात्मिका, तेन अहं
रजसा प्रवर्तितः प्रचलितः स्वरूपात् ; कष्टं मम वर्तते यः अयं
मत्स्वरूपावस्थानात् भ्रंशः ; तथा सात्त्विको गुणः प्रकाशात्मा मां विवेकित्वम्
आपादयन् सुखे च सञ्जयन् बध्नाति’ इति तानि द्वेष्टि असम्यग्दर्शित्वेन । तत्
एवं गुणातीतो न द्वेष्टि सम्प्रवृत्तानि । यथा च सात्त्विकादिपुरुषः
सत्त्वादिकार्याणि आत्मानं प्रति प्रकाश्य निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति, न तथा
गुणातीतो निवृत्तानि काङ्क्षति इत्यर्थः । एतत् न परप्रत्यक्षं लिङ्गम् । किं
तर्हि ? स्वात्मप्रत्यक्षत्वात् आत्मार्थमेव एतत् लक्षणम् । न हि स्वात्मविषयं
द्वेषमाकाङ्क्षां वा परः पश्यति ॥

prakAsha, or a sAtvik state of mind, pravritti or a rAjasik state of mind,
and moha or a tAmasik state of mind - in all these states, a guNAtIta does
not dislike the mind, because he realises that they will be predominant
from time to time and he has the right knowledge (the samyak bhAva) that he
is the witness of these states and therefore unaffected. (What this implies
is that the guNAtIta does experience these states of the mind too, but
importantly he does not seek to get himself rid of these states completely,
he merely does not transfer them as his states).

The person who hankers after mental liberation, on the other hand, goes
through a form of "meta samsAra" - where not only does a person experience
anger, sadness due to various things in everyday life etc (samsAra), he
starts getting anxious, worried, guilty (meta samsAra) for feeling those
thoughts - "How can I, a Vedanta student, feel anger / sadness? I clearly
have not attained liberation!" In reality, such a person is being  unkind
to the mind, for not being free from these states. Shankaracharya explains
the thought process of such a mental perfectionist -

1) "These tAmasa thoughts have commenced in the mind, I have become mUDha

2) "These rAjasa pravrittis have been born in the mind,  I have become
sorrowful. I have become rAjasik, and slipped from moksha. I am now in
trouble, I have slipped from my real nature".

3) Even in sAtvik state of mind he complains "this sAtvik state of mind has
made me bright and cheerful. However, in this mental state too in which I
am a viveki, I am afraid I will get attached to this happiness and mental
peace I am experiencing now."

Therefore, because of missing the primary liberation which is the tAtparya
of vedAnta, this person gets caught up fearing his own mind and starts
disliking it. The guNAtIta on the other hand, does not complain against the
mind at any time because while he is happy to train the mind to make it
react better, he is not concerned if once in a while the mind slips up and
becomes sad or angry. He knows that is the nature of anAtma - it will never
be perfect, so he continues to work on it to improve it, but it is never
the ultimate goal for him. It is a lifelong "hobby" for the gunAtIta, not a
matter of personal success or failure.



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