Excerpts from the ‘Upanyãsa’ rendered by Brahmashi Mani Dravid Shastriji

Brahmashri Mani Dravid Shastriji took up five topics in Vedanta and very clearly expounded on them. The topics chosen were

1. Vedanta shravanãdhikãri

2. Brahma-Atma vichãraprayojanam

3. Oupanishadãtma niroopanam

4. Shrauta tãtparya nirnayam

5. Moksha swaroopa pradarshanam

On the first day, under the title Vedanta shravanãdhikãri’, the requisites of a person that make him eligible for listening to Vedanta were dealt with, in detail. The term 'Adhikãri' refers to that person who is capable of attaining the fruit as a result of performance of some action (karma). Possession of some basic prerequisites are laid down by scriptures in order to attain the fruit of ‘Vedanta shravana’ (listening to Vedanta).

The very first requirement is that the person must have the desire to get liberated. This is called mumukshutvam’. Ordinary ‘mumukshutva’ will not induce one to practice sadhana to the end, i.e. till the attainment of liberation. ‘Mumukshutva’ must be of a very high degree. This can be got only through ‘vairagya’(dispassion). This is called 'nityãnitya vastuviveka' i.e. discriminating objects (as permanent and impermanent). Every object in this Universe apart from Brahman, is impermanent and subject to destruction. Brahman is the only reality and it is eternal. The sadhana to be undertaken by such a ‘mumukshu’ (spiritual aspirant) who has great dispassion is to earn ‘antahkarana shuddhi’ i.e. clarity and purity of the internal organ, namely, the mind.

Mind is required to have some basic qualities like
shama’ (control of the inner senses, i.e. the mind),
'dama’ (control of external senses, i.e. eye, tongue, sense of smell, etc.),
titiksha’ (not to react violently even when subject to unjust treatment),
uparati’ (to stay near [God]),
'shraddha’ (faith in the words of the Guru/Scripture)
samãdhana’ (placidity of mind).
These six are known as 'Shamãdi sadhana shatsampath'.

Dispassion of such high degree is earned through 'Ihãmutrãrtha phalabhoga viraga' i.e. not having any aim in attaining the pleasures of either this world or the worlds hereafter ( i.e. after death).

These four, namely,
'Nityãnitya vastuviveka' , (discrimination between the permanent and the impermanent)
'Ihãmutrãrtha phalabhoga viraga' , (not possessing any aim in attaining pleasures of either this world or the worlds hereafter)
'Shamãdi sadhana shatsampath' , (the six qualities of the mind)
Mumukshutvam’ (deep desire to attain Liberation) are known as ‘sadhana chatushtaya’.

A person possessing these above four is the ‘adhikãri’ (qualified) for ‘Vedanta shravana’.

Having described the adhikari for ‘Vedanta shravana’ on the first day, the topic taken for the second day was Brahma-Atma vichãraprayojanam. Under this, the fruit of ‘Vedanta shravana’ was discussed.

In the Sruti, it is told that 'amrutatva' or immortality (liberation) is got only by knowing the Self. The notion 'I' corresponds only to the Self i.e. the Atman. Various schools of philosophy propose different ideas regarding the Self.

Some say that the body is the Atman, some say it is the sense organ. Some others say that it is the mind. A few contend that it is atomic in size while another argues that it is all-pervasive. Some say that there are two - namely, the ‘jeevatma’ and the ‘Paramãtma’ and that these two are different. Some say that the two are same. Some say that the Self has qualities like doership, etc. while a few others contend against this. Such and many other arguments are put forward, as per their understanding, by various schools. But, we must come to a conclusion only after analyzing these thoroughly. This is ‘Vedanta vichãra’. It should also not be an independent analysis but be based on scriptures. The only 'pramãna' (proof) or instrument of knowledge to know about the Self is the Upanishad because this is beyond the grasp of other ‘pramãnãs’ like ‘pratyaksha’, ‘anumãna’, etc. By undertaking such ‘vichãra’ (enquiry), our mind is cleared of doubts.

But, how do we attain liberation through this? This needs to be explained. There are three factors to be overcome in order to attain liberation. These are -
pramãna asambhãvana’ (doubt regarding validity of scriptures),
prameya asambhãvana’ (doubt regarding the non-difference between jiva and Brahman)
vipariita bhavana’ (negative latent impressions).

These are respectively overcome through ‘shravana’ (listening), ‘manana’ (contemplating) and ‘nididhyãsana’ (practicing).

A mind that is highly purified by the above said practices is a fit mind and it is this mind that gets 'akhandãkãra vritti' (taking the shape of the infinite). This gives liberation. Liberation is not 'attained' in the real sense because it is always there - It Ever Is. Hence, the only existing reality, Brahman, is known. Liberation is attained merely through the knowledge of the Self. This mere knowledge (and not some action) causes the entire universe to disappear. From this very reason it can be concluded that the entire creation is a mere illusion. Because only illusory objects are removed by mere knowledge.

This can be understood by the following example. A man is tied to a pillar. Now in order to get released, he must perform some action, like, say, removing the rope. The knowledge (as) 'I am not bound' will at no point of time release him because he is really bound by the rope. On the other hand, a man perceives snake in a rope. Any action (like hitting with a stick etc.) will not cause the disappearance of the snake (in the rope). But the mere knowledge 'this is not a snake but only a rope' causes the removal of the snake from that place. This is so because the snake was only an illusory one. Hence, it can be seen that only illusory objects are removed by mere knowledge.

The first Brahmasutra 'Athãto Brahma jijnãsa' is unique because in this sutra,
the ‘adhikãri’,
the ‘vishaya’ (object of the text -here it is Brahman)
the ‘phala’ (result in the form of liberation),
which are the three out of the four 'anubandha chatushtaya', are discussed.

On the third day, the topic taken up was Oupanishadãtma niroopanam’ . What is the nature of Atman as described by the Upanishads? This was taken up for discussion.

Under this were explained how the only reality, Brahman, appears as ‘jiva’, ‘Ishvara’ and ‘prapancha’ (universe); the non difference between ‘jiva’ and ‘Ishvara’, etc.

The only existing reality is Brahman. Due to difference in ‘upãdhi’ (limiting adjunct), this appears as ‘jiva’ (creature), ‘Ishvara’ (God) and ‘prapancha’ (world). The ‘upãdhi’ here is Maya (illusion). Only due to Maya, the One entity appears as ‘jiva’, ‘Ishvara’ and ‘prapancha’. Consciousness that is reflected in Maya is spoken of as ‘jiva’ while the prototype is called ‘Ishvara’. ‘Consciousness’, in its essence existed even before the ‘upãdhi’ viz. Maya existed. But when associated with Maya, it gets ‘bimbatva’ (the state of being prototype-‘Ishvara’) and ‘pratibimbatva’ (the state of being the reflected image-corresponding to the ‘jiva’). In the absence of ‘upãdhi’, both of these features are absent. When this Maya or ‘avidya’ (ignorance) is removed, then the seeming difference between ‘jiva’ and ‘Ishvara’ is removed. Essentially Maya is insentient (‘jada’) by nature. But, due to the reflection of Consciousness in it, it appears to possess sentience. It is only due to this reflection of Consciousness in insentient objects that we know their existence. Brahman is the reason for the existence, luminosity and love for an object while reason for name and form is attributed to insentient objects. Maya affects only the ‘jiva’ and not the ‘Ishvara’ because all those qualities present in the ‘upãdhi’, for instance a mirror, affect the reflected image while the prototype remains unaffected. ‘Avidya’ transforms itself in the form of world (beginning from the five basic elements to the gross body).

Jiva’ has three sheaths that form three ‘sariirãs’ (bodies) for the ‘jiva’.
These are -
'kãrana sarira' (that which has ‘avidya’ as ‘upãdhi’),
'Linga sarira' ( that has 17 factors viz. five sense organs, five organs of action, five ‘prãna’, ‘buddhi’ and ‘manas’ - as ‘upãdhi’)
‘sthoola sariira’ ( that has the physical body as ‘upãdhi’).
Hence, liberation means the destruction of all these bodies. This is possible only when ‘Avidya’ is destroyed. Due to false identification of the body as the Self, the pleasures and pains experienced by the body is related to one’s Self.

Jiva is in one of the three states -
‘jãgrat’ ( waking),
‘swapana’ ( dream)
‘sushupti’ ( state of deep sleep).
In the waking state, all three bodies serve as ‘upãdhi’.
In the dream state, the consciousness of the physical body as “I” is absent. In this state the ‘linga sariira’ and ‘kãrana sariira’ serve as ‘upãdhi’.
In the state of deep sleep, the mind too is merged in ‘avidya’ and here ‘avidya’ alone is the ‘upãdhi’ for ‘jiva’.

On removal of this ‘kãrana sarira’, the reality alone exists which is nothing but Atman. ‘Ishvara’ is described as the creator, protector and destructor of the entire universe. How can two things that are seemingly opposed, be identical?

This doubt is cleared as follows - the object that possesses certain qualities ( dharmas) is said to be ‘dharmi’. ‘Jiva’ is that consciousness on which we falsely superimpose qualities like ‘kinchijnatva’ etc. while ‘Ishvara’ is that consciousness on which ‘sarvajnatva’, ‘sarvashaktitva’ etc. are superimosed. In Mahavãkyas like 'Tattvamasi', identity is spoken only between the two ‘dharmis’ and not as such between ‘jiva’ and ‘Ishvara’. The ‘dharmi’ is nothing but pure Consciousness. The secondary meaning (‘lakshyãrtha’), after analysis (‘shodhana’) of 'tat' and 'tvam' has got to be Consciousness and it is in this manner that likeness is spoken between ‘jiva’ and ‘Ishvara’. This gives ‘akhandãkãra vritti’ that leads to liberation. Hence, from the Upanishad, we know Atma to be self-luminous, witness, eternal, all-pervasive and of the form of Sat-Chit-Ãnanda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss).

The topic for day four was 'Shrauta tãtparya nirnayam'. It has been told in the previous discourses that the Srutis have their purport in establishing the non-dual Brahman. But how do we conclude that the Srutis declare only this? The answer to this question was dealt with, under this topic.

Though there are several references in all the Upanishads to know the nature of the Self, the most renowned ‘vãkya’ from Chandogya Upanishad - 'Tattvamasi' - was taken up for elucidation. The meaning of 'tat' and 'tvam' in this ‘mahavakya’ is ‘Ishvara’ and ‘jiva’ respectively, and the meaning got from this is the non-difference between the two. But some contend that this is much against our common experience and hence, they try to interpret this ‘mahavakya’ in such way that it is not against ‘pratyaksham’ (experience). They give several arguments to support their stand - 'When this is possible, what is the necessity to resort to some meaning which is against experience?' - is their question. It must be explained here that the purport of the Srutis must first be fixed. This is not done at random, but with the help of 'tãtparya lingas' which are six in number. These are -


'Upakrama-upasamhãrau' - The purport of the text can be known from what it speaks at the beginning and the end of the text. Generally, a good speaker, at the outset, would tell about his main aim. Then he may drift much away in the course of explaining. But finally, he would again mention his main objective. Hence this 'Upakrama-upasamhãrau' (i.e. subject dealt in the beginning and end) helps us in ascertaining the meaning of a text.

'Abhyãsam' - When we have to emphasize some idea, we repeatedly state the same thing. This is known as ‘abhyãsa’. If a text repeatedly states the same idea, then it can be very well concluded that its purport lies only in that particular idea.

'Apoorvata' - The word 'apoorva' means 'that which is unknown'. The purport that a text has must have for its object an unknown thing because, in declaring an already known entity, its purpose is lost. It would become a mere restatement and this idea cannot be taken as the implication of the text. Hence a text will have its purpose only in declaring an unknown object and hence, this unknown object alone is its purport.

'Phalam' - There must be some ‘prayojana’ (result or fruit). If there are several 'padãrtas' without any fruit and one 'padãrta' with fruit, then, only the one with fruit must be taken as the purport.

'Arthavãdam' - By way of praising or censuring an object we can know that the object being praised is to grasped and the censured object must be given up. Thus, this too helps in fixing the purport.

'Upapatti' - To ascertain that the object being spoken of is not contradicted by some other 'pramãna' (means of knowledge) is ‘upapatti’. Though there maybe some seeming disparity, in reality it is not so.

All these ‘tãtparya lingas’ are present in the ‘mahavakya’ 'Tatvamasi' and these have only the non-difference between ‘jiva’ and ‘Ishvara’ as their purport. It cannot be argued that this is against ‘pratyaksha’ because we find many of our experiences to be illusory. Even the idea of “I” relating to the body, mind etc. is only false. Hence, the non-dual Brahman is the only reality and this alone is the purport of all Upanishads.

On the final day, liberation according to Advaitins was elucidated under the topic 'moksha swaroopa pradarshanam'.

Different schools of thought propose different ideas regarding liberation. In Vedanta, moksha is ' bandha nivrritti' (release from bondage). This liberation is attained only once. It is the realization of the Self, which is Sat-chit-ãnanda swaroopa, eternal and the only reality.

Upanishad speaks of different kinds of Moksha. But of these, only one is to be considered as the highest. By following practices as told in 'dahara vidya' and several other such ‘upãsanas’, ‘lokas’ like ‘Hiranyagarbha loka' etc. is reached by a soul. Thence, if the jiva has reached that ‘loka’ with the desire of getting liberated, it gets liberated at the time of final destruction or ‘maha pralaya’. This is called 'krama mukti'. But if it has reached that ‘loka’ with the desire to enjoy the pleasures of that world, then it is pushed back to the world.

In reality, ‘Nirguna sãkshãtkãram’ is only liberation. ‘Sagunamukti’ also finally leads only to this. ‘Swaroopa Ãvirbhãva' or revelation of one’s real nature is only ‘Nirguna sãkshãtkãram’. This ‘swaroopa sãkshãtkãra’ is attained the moment knowledge dawns. Hence, even if the body continues to exist that soul is a liberated soul. Such a person is only called a ‘Jivanmukta’. When the body falls, he attains 'Videhamukti'. Such a soul that has attained ‘Nirguna sãkshãtkãram’ has all the powers like creation etc. possessed by God.

Such ‘Jivanmuktãs are bound by no rules. Does this mean that they will indulge in prohibited activities? Certainly not! Because the knowledge of the Self dawns on only those who have done great merits in crores of lives. Even the presence of one ‘vipariita samskãra’ (negative latent impression) would be an obstacle for realization. Hence, they will never indulge in such activities.

A ‘Jivanmukta’ must be treated with great reverence and at any cost he must not be censured. We can attain great peace if such a ‘Jivanmukta’ graces us. The ills that would fall on a person censuring such a great Jnãni cannot be described in words. He enters the great darkness of ‘samsãra’.

That the ‘upadesa’ received from such a Jnãni leads one to liberation, is beyond doubt.

Thus, liberation as told in Advaita is the realization of the self. Knowledge alone is the means to attain this. Even if liberated, due to ‘prãrabdha’ one is bound to the body. He is a ‘Jivanmukta’. Once the body falls, He attains ‘videhamukti’. In Reality, there is no difference in the ‘ãnanda’ or bliss experienced between the two as far as the Jnãni is concerned.


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