Chapter - 8
Kutasthadipa - The Immutable Consciousness
In this chapter Kutastha or pure consciousness, which is eternal and immutable, is being distinguished from the reflection of pure consciousness in the modifications of the mind (vrittis) with the help of an example. When the rays of the sun fall on a wall, the wall is illumined and looks bright, though by itself the wall has no brightness. When the rays of the sun fall on a mirror and the rays reflected from the mirror fall on the wall, the wall looks even brighter. Similarly, because of the presence of pure consciousness within, the physical body acquires sentiency. When the mind functions through any of the sense organs and becomes modified into the form of an external object, the pure consciousness becomes reflected in this modification (which is known as vritti). Then the sentiency of the body becomes even more manifest because the person sees external objects, hears external sounds, etc. Even when there are no mirrors to reflect the rays of the sun the wall on which the sun's rays fall directly remains illumined. Similarly even when there are no vrittis of the mind, pure consciousness illumines the body and gives it sentiency. Even in the state of deep sleep, when the mind and the senses are dormant, pure consciousness illumines the body.
The process of visual perception, according to Advaita Vedanta, is described in chapter 1 of Vedanta Paribhasha thus: Just as the water in a tank, issuing through a hole, enters, through a channel, a number of fields and assumes the shapes of those fields, so also the luminous mind, stretching out through the eye, goes to the space occupied by an object and becomes modified into the form of that object. Such a modification is called a vritti of the mind. This vritti removes the ignorance covering the object. Then the reflection of pure consciousness falls on the vritti and the person perceives the object. Before the rise of the vritti the object was not known. In other words, there was ignorance of the object. This ignorance becomes known only because of the pure consciousness or Brahman. Later, when the object is perceived, the knowledge of its existence also arises only because of pure consciousness. Thus the ignorance as well as the knowledge of any object arises only because of pure consciousness which is the witness of both. It is therefore said that all things are objects of the witnessing consciousness, either as known or as not known. It is only when the pure consciousness is reflected in the vritti of the mind that an object becomes known. The vritti, the reflection of consciousness in the vritti and the object itself are illumined by Brahman or pure consciousness; whereas only the existence of the object is made known by the reflection of consciousness in the vritti.
It is thus seen that the cognition of any object, such as a pot, is brought about by the chidaabhaasa or reflection of consciousness in the vritti, combined with pure consciousness or Brahman which is the substratum of the mind. The Naiyayikas hold that the cognition 'This is a pot' becomes known only through another cognition which they call 'anuvyavasaaya'. This view is not accepted by Vedanta, because it will lead to infinite regress, as the second cognition would need a third cognition to become known, and so on, ad infinitum. In Vedanta pure consciousness or Brahman itself takes the place of this anuvyavasaaya, and since Brahman is self-luminous it does not need another cognition. Therefore, the cognition 'This is a pot' is brought about by chidaabhaasa, but the knowledge 'The pot is known' is derived from Brahman or pure Consciousness. Thus the distinction between chidaabhaasa and Brahman has been brought out in respect of cognition of objects outside the body. The same distinction applies also in respect of cognitions within the body, because the chidaabhaasa pervades also the inner states such as desire, anger, the ego-consciousness, etc., just as fire pervades a red-hot piece of iron. All vrittis of the mind arise one after another. But vrittis are absent during deep sleep, swoon and Samadhi. The consciousness that witnesses the interval between two successive vrittis as well as the period during which vrittis are absent is called Kutastha. This is immutable.
The objects of internal cognition are the states of the mind such as happiness, sorrow, anger, etc. The mental modification (vritti) naturally coincides with them. The mind has not to go out to unite with them as in the case of external perception. So the mental states of happiness, etc., are said to be revealed by the witnessing consciousness itself, as soon as they arise. These cognitions are pratyaksha, or perceptual knowledge. Vedantaparibhasha says: "Being cognized by the witnessing consciousness itself does not mean that the mental states are the objects of the witness self without the presence of corresponding mental modifications, but that they are the objects of the witnessing consciousness without the activity of the means of knowledge such as the sense organs".
Chidaabhaasa, which is the reflection of pure consciousness in the mental modification, has a beginning and an end. But pure consciousness is eternal and immutable. Brahman or pure consciousness, its reflection in the mind and the mind itself are related in the same way as a face, its reflection and the reflecting medium.
With regard to the manner in which the appearance of the jiva is to be understood, there is a difference of opinion between the two main post-Sankara Advaita schools - the Vivarana school and the Bhamati school. According to Vivarana, the jiva is reflection (pratibimba) of Brahman in nescience, and Brahman as the prototype reflected is Isvara. This is known as the 'reflection theory'. The Bhamati view, which is known as the 'limitation (avaccheda) theory', is that the jiva is Brahman as delimited by nescience. The analogy for the former view is the reflection of the face in a mirror; for the latter view it is the delimitation of ether by a pot, etc. Swami Vidyaranya rejects the limitation theory by pointing out that if Brahman becomes a jiva by being merely delimited by the intellect, even a pot which is also pervaded by Brahman would become a jiva. He accepts a modified form of the reflection theory, known as aabhaasa-vaada, or 'semblance theory'. While according to the Vivarana theory the reflection is real and is identical with the prototype, in the semblance theory the reflection is a mere appearance, an illusory manifestation. In the reflection theory the apposition between the jiva and Brahman is through identification, like the identification of the space within a pot with the total space. In the semblance theory the apposition between the jiva and Brahman is by sublation, as in the case of the illusory snake and the rope, where one says: "What appeared as a snake is really a rope".
The jiva is in reality none other than Brahman, but because he identifies himself with his gross and subtle bodies he wrongly thinks that he is different from Brahman. When the jiva realizes that he is Brahman, the identification with the two bodies ceases. The sruti text, "All this is indeed Brahman" (Ch, up. 3. 14. 1) means that what appears as the universe is in reality Brahman. Similarly, by the text, "I am Brahman" (Br. Up. 1. 4. 10), the identity of jiva and Brahman is declared.
Brahman has been described as Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. As the support of the universe Brahman is Existence. As the cognizer of all insentient objects it is Consciousness. As it is always the object of love it is Bliss. Its relationship with the world is only as the substratum, like the relationship of the rope to the illusory snake. In fact, there can be no relationship between Brahman which is the only reality and the universe which is mithya, i.e., neither real nor unreal.
Both jiva and Isvara are reflections of Brahman in Maya. They can reflect consciousness, unlike the inert objects in the world. Though both the mind and the body are products of food, the mind is subtler than the body and so it can reflect consciousness. Similarly, jiva and Isvara are subtler than inert matter and so they can reflect consciousness.
In dream we ourselves create so many objects. So there is no wonder that Maya creates everything that we experience in our waking state.
Brahman is pure consciousness. Brahman reflected in Maya is Isvara, who is omniscient. Omniscience is possible only when there are things to be known. These things are the creation of Maya. So it will be correct to say that Brahman, which is pure consciousness, becomes a knower of everything only because of Maya.
Brahman is ever associationless and changeless. Brahman is the only reality. Since Maya is not real from the absolute point of view, bondage which is caused by Maya is also not real. If bondage is not real, release from bondage is also not real. So from the point of view of absolute reality, there can be no such thing as an aspirant for liberation or a liberated person. Bondage, release, aspirant and liberated exist only when we are speaking from the empirical point of view. This distinction between the two standpoints has always to be kept in mind. When what was taken to be a snake is found, with the help of a lamp, to be only a rope, no one would say that a snake was previously there, but has gone away and a rope has come in its place. On the other hand one would say that there never was any snake and there was only a rope all the time. Similarly, when a person becomes liberated, it would be wrong to say that the person was previously in bondage and has now become liberated. The correct position is that he was never in bondage, but was liberated all the time, though he wrongly thought that he was in bondage.
When it rains in torrents, the ether is not affected at all by it. Similarly pure consciousness is not affected by the phenomenal world which is the creation of Maya. The enlightened person knows that he is the pure consciousness and so he is not affected by whatever happens in the world.
He who studies this chapter and reflects on it ever abides as the self-luminous Kutastha.
Chapter - 9
Dhyanadeepa - Meditation on pure Consciousness
According to the teachings of Vedanta, a person who has acquired the four preliminary requisites, namely, discrimination between the eternal and the ephemeral, total dispassion towards all pleasures in this world and in higher worlds, the spiritual disciplines such as control of the mind, control of the senses, etc., and intense yearning for liberation, attains liberation through hearing of the scriptures from a Guru, and reflecting and meditating on them. For those who, even after the study of the Upanishads, are not able to attain realization due to some obstruction, such as lack of subtlety of mind, meditation on the attributeless (Nirguna) Brahman is prescribed as an alternative means in this chapter. Such meditations are laid down in the Uttaratapaniya Upanishad.
Sometimes even by acting on a wrong notion one may by chance attain a desired end. For example, a man sees the gleam of a gem coming from a distance. Mistaking the gleam for a gem itself he runs towards it and gets the gem. Though he was wrong in thinking that the gleam itself was a gem, he succeeded in getting a gem. Such a notion which, though wrong, results in a successful conclusion, is called 'samvaadi bhrama'. Another person mistakes the gleam of a lamp for a gem and runs towards it, but is disappointed. Such a wrong notion is called 'visamvaadi bhrama'.
If a person mistakes mist for smoke and goes towards it expecting to find fire and accidentally finds fire there, it is called 'samvaadi bhrama'. A person sprinkles on himself the water of the river Godavari, thinking it to be the water of the river Ganga. He is purified, because the water of Godavari is also a purifier according to the scriptures. Here his mistaking Godavari water for Ganga water is 'samvaadi bhrama' because though it is an error, it leads to the desired result. A man in delirium because of high fever unconsciously repeats the name 'Narayana' and dies. He goes to heaven because of having uttered the name of the Lord at the time of death. This is another instance of 'samvaadi bhrama'. (In Srimad Bhagavata it is said; "The name of the illustrious Lord, whether uttered consciously or unconsciously, destroys a person's sins as surely as fire destroys a heap of wood; just as a powerful medicine has its effect, even if taken by chance by one who does not know its potency, so has the Lord's name when uttered even by an ignorant person"- Bh. VI. 2. 18-19).
In direct perception (pratyaksha), inference (anumana) and scriptural authority there are innumerable instances of samvaadi bhrama. The worship of images made of clay, wood and stone as deities is one such instance. In Chandogya Upanishad (Chapter 5) heaven, rain-god, earth, man and woman are to be meditated on as the sacrificial fire. These are also instances of samvaadi bhrama.
Samvaadi bhrama, though it is a bhrama (error), leads to a desirable result. So also, meditation on Brahman leads to liberation. Brahman with attributes which is meditated on, is not a reality (in the absolute sense) and so such meditation is samvaadi bhrama. Any upasana or meditation is based on looking upon one thing as another, such as the linga as Siva, salagrama as Vishnu, or Brahman with attributes (Saguna Brahman) as the ultimate Reality. It is therefore a bhrama.
After knowing the one indivisible homogeneous Brahman indirectly from the scriptures (getting paroksha jnanam), one should meditate identifying oneself with Brahman. The knowledge that Brahman exists, derived from the study of the scriptures, without the actual realization that Brahman is one's own Self, is what is known as indirect knowledge. It is like the knowledge of the forms of Vishnu and other gods. The knowledge of the form of Vishnu as described in the scriptures is not false, though indirect, because the scriptures are authoritative. One can know from the scriptures that Brahman is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, but he cannot be said to have direct knowledge of Brahman until he has realized Brahman as the inner witness within himself. The indirect knowledge is, however, not illusory. As long as identification with the body continues, one cannot realize one's identity with Brahman. The indirect knowledge of non-duality gained from the scriptures is not opposed to the perception of duality in the world. The perception that an image of Vishnu is made of stone is not opposed to the idea that the image represents Vishnu and to the worship of the image as Vishnu.
Indirect knowledge of Brahman can arise even from a single instruction by a competent preceptor. Like the knowledge of the form of Vishnu, it does not need any enquiry. The methods of worship have been laid down in the Kalpa-sutras by the sages, Jaimini, Asvalayana, Apastamba, Bodhayana, Katyayana and Vaikhanasa. These form limbs of the Vedas. Worship can be performed by a study of these and with the help of instructions from a knowledgeable person. But, for direct realization of Brahman the instruction of a preceptor, though essential, is not sufficient. In addition, the spiritual aspirant must perform reflection and one-pointed meditation. Want of faith obstructs the rise of indirect knowledge, but want of enquiry (i.e. hearing, reflection and meditation) is what obstructs the rise of direct knowledge. The enquiry should be continued until realization. If one does not get realization in this birth even after practising enquiry till death, he will get it in a future life when all obstacles have been eliminated. By virtue of the practice of spiritual enquiry in a previous birth, Vamadeva attained realization even when he was in his mother's womb, says Aitareya Upanishad, 2.1.5.
If, in spite of the practice of enquiry over a long period realization does not arise, it is due to various impediments. Realization will dawn when the impediments are removed. A person who does not know that one of his ancestors had buried a large quantity of gold under the ground in the compound of his house lives in poverty. When some one who knows the secret informs him about the treasure, he collects it and lives happily. A monk could not attain realization because of his past attachment to a she-buffalo. His teacher instructed him to meditate on Brahman, looking upon it as the substratum of the buffalo. By doing so he was able to attain realization.
Some of the impediments are: intense attachment to sense-objects, lack of subtlety of the intellect, indulging in perverse arguments about the truth of the Upanishadic teachings, and the deep-rooted conviction that the Self is a doer and an enjoyer. These should be removed by the practice of disciplines such as control of the mind, control of the senses, dispassion, etc., and enquiry into the nature of the reality. It is said in the Bhagavadgita that the spiritual development attained by a person in one life will not be lost on death, but will be with him in his next birth and will enable him to progress further from the stage reached (B.G.6.41-45). The essential condition for the attainment of realization is complete freedom from all desires, including desire for the pleasures of heaven and even of Brahmaloka.
If a person is unable to practice enquiry, he should keep his mind always fixed on the thought of Brahman. Just as it is possible to meditate on Brahman with attributes, it is also possible to meditate on the attributeless Brahman. The latter may be meditated on as being beyond the reach of the senses, speech and the mind. Meditation on Nirguna Brahman has been spoken of in the Nrsimha-uttaratapaniya Upanishad (1.1), Prasna Upanishad (5.5), Katha Upanishad (1.2.15-17), and Mandukya Upanishad (1.12). This meditation has been mentioned also in the Panchikarana Vartika by Suresvaracharya. It is a means towards the indirect knowledge of Brahman. The Self is indicated in the Upanishads by implication by means of positive attributes such as bliss, etc and also negatively as 'not gross', etc. One should meditate on the indivisible, homogeneous Self as 'That I am'.
The difference between knowledge (jnana) and meditation (upasana) is that the former depends on the object, while the latter depends on the will of the meditator. To explain, knowledge reveals an object as it actually is, but in meditation an object is looked upon as representing some thing else. Seeing the sun as the sun is knowledge, but thinking of the sun as Brahman is meditation.
Knowledge of Brahman arises by the practice of enquiry. Such knowledge puts an end to the notion that the world is real. On the attainment of this knowledge the person enjoys permanent satisfaction and feels that he has accomplished the goal of life. He becomes liberated even while living and merely awaits the exhaustion of the karma which brought about his present birth (praarabdha karma).
A person who is not able to practise enquiry should meditate in the manner prescribed by his Guru with complete faith, without allowing his mind to be distracted by other thoughts. He should continue the practice of meditation until he becomes identified with the object of meditation and thereafter also continue it till the last moment of his life.
A diligent student of the Vedas recites them even in his dreams. Similarly, one who practises meditation without any distraction continues the meditation even in his dreams, because of the deep impression produced by the meditation in his mind. Such a person can meditate without interruption even while continuing to experience his fructifying karma, just as a worldly person keeps on thinking of the objects to which he is attached even while he is engaged otherwise.
A person who has realized that he is the Self (and not the body-mind complex) fulfills his worldly duties also well, because they do not conflict with his knowledge. The knowledge that the world is not real but only Maya and that the Self is pure consciousness is not opposed to worldly activities. In order to perform worldly activities it is not necessary to believe that the world is real. Only the right means are necessary. These means are the mind, speech, body and external objects. They do not disappear on the attainment of enlightenment.
The injunctions and prohibitions of the scriptures have no application to the enlightened. They apply only to those who look upon themselves as belonging to a certain caste or station or stage of life. The enlightened person knows that caste, stage of life, etc., are creations of Maya and that they pertain only to the body and not to the Self which is pure consciousness. The enlightened person whose mind is completely free from all desires and vasanas has nothing to gain from action or inaction, meditation or japa.
A person who meditates continuously attains identity with the object of meditation, but this identity ceases if the practice of meditation is given up. But the realization of the Self, once attained through knowledge, is never lost. Every living being is in reality Brahman, but is ignorant of this fact. Knowledge only reveals this truth and does not create Brahmanhood.
Because of nescience which conceals their real nature, people do not realize the purpose of life. But just as begging is better than starving, it is better to practice devotion and meditation rather than other pursuits. Performance of the rituals laid down in the scriptures is superior to being engrossed in worldly affairs alone. Better than that is worship of a personal deity. Even better than that is meditation on the attributeless Brahman which leads to direct realization.
A samvaadi bhrama which leads to the desired result becomes valid knowledge (prama). Similarly, meditation on Brahman, when it ripens, leads to liberation and becomes knowledge of the reality. Though meditation on the form of a deity and chanting of mantras also lead to liberation, meditation on the attributeless Brahman is nearest to the goal of Self-realization.
Meditation on the attributeless Brahman matures into savikalpa samadhi in which there is still the distinction of meditator, the act of meditation and the object of meditation. This, when pursued, leads to nirvikalpa Samadhi where such differences vanish. There is then a perfect realization of Brahman as immutable, associationless, eternal, self-luminous, without a second and infinite, as declared in the scriptures.
Those who undertake pilgrimages and chanting of mantras instead of meditation on the attributeless Brahman may be compared to a person who licks his hand after dropping the sweets held by him.
Enquiry into the nature of the Self by hearing the scriptures from a teacher and then reflecting on them and practicing meditation is the direct means to Self-realization. Meditation on the attributeless Brahman is prescribed only for those who are unable to practise such enquiry.
If a person is not able to perfect his meditation in this life, he may attain liberation by acquiring Self-knowledge in Brahmaloka or in another life. The Bhagavadgita says that one attains that which he thinks of at the time of death (8.6). Thus the future life of a person is determined by his thoughts at the time of death. So the worshipper of a Personal God will attain identity with Him, and the meditator on the attributeless Brahman will obtain liberation.
One who studies this chapter and reflects on its contents is freed from all doubts and constantly meditates on Brahman.
Chapter - 10
Natakadipa - The lamp of the theatre
In this chapter the supreme Self is compared to the lamp which lights the stage in a theatre. The lamp illumines the empty stage before the play starts; it illumines the play when it is in progress; and after the play is over and there is no one on the stage, the lamp continues to illumine the empty stage. Similarly, the supreme Self which is self-luminous exists before the origination of the universe, during the period of appearance of the universe, and also after the dissolution of the universe.
Before the creation of the universe the supreme Self which is non-dual, infinite bliss, alone existed. Through its Maya it appeared as the universe of names and forms and entered into them as the jiva or the individual self. Entering into divine bodies, the same Self became all the deities such as Vishnu. Entering into the bodies of human beings, it became the worshipper of the deities.
As a result of the practice of devotion in many lives, the desire to enquire into his real nature arises in the jiva. When such enquiry and reflection attain perfection, Maya is negated and the Self alone remains.
As long as the jiva, who is in reality the Self which is non-dual and of the nature of supreme bliss, perceives duality and looks upon it as real because of ignorance, he experiences misery. This state of ignorance of his real nature and the consequent suffering is what is known as bondage. Realizing his own nature as the supreme Self and remaining established in that realization is liberation.
The jiva who is ignorant of his real nature identifies himself with his body and mind and looks upon himself as the performer of action and the enjoyer of the fruit thereof. The mind is his instrument of action. The mind undergoes a twofold modification, namely, internal and external. The internal modification takes the form 'I'. It makes him the performer of action. The external modification takes the form of objects which are referred to as 'this'. The external objects are cognized by the five organs of sense distinctively as sound, touch, colour, taste and smell. The consciousness which simultaneously illumines the agent, the action and the external objects is known as the 'witness'. While revealing all these, the witness remains changeless like the lamp illumining the stage in a theatre. The lamp reveals the patron, the performer on the stage, as well as the audience and continues to shine even when all of them have left. The witness-consciousness illumines the ego, the intellect and the sense-objects. Even when these are absent, as in deep sleep, the witness remains self-luminous. The intellect functions only in the light of the ever-luminous and ever present witness. In the above illustration the patron is the ego, the various sense-objects are the audience, the intellect is the performer on the stage, the musicians playing on their instruments are the sense-organs, and the lamp lighting up all of them is the witness-consciousness. Just as the lamp lights up all these while remaining in its own place, the witness, which is motionless, illumines external objects as well as the states of the internal organ. The distinction as internal and external is only from the point of view of the body and not the witness. The ego is internal while objects are external. The qualities of the mind such as fickleness are wrongly attributed to the witness-consciousness by the ignorant. When the mind becomes absolutely quiet, the witness shines as it is.
The Self illumines all the modifications of the mind as the witness, but is itself beyond the grasp of speech and the mind. When the unreality of all duality is realized, the Self alone remains. Since the Self is self-luminous, its existence need not be proved by any pramana (valid means of knowledge). The Self can be realized as the witness of all the internal and external creations of the intellect if one hears the instruction of the sruti from a Guru and reflects on the teachings.
Chapter - 11
Yogananda - The Bliss Of Yoga
Chapters 11 to 15 expound the various aspects in which Bliss which is Brahman manifests itself. In this chapter it is pointed out that the bliss attained through the practice of Yoga is an aspect of the supreme Bliss that is identical with Brahman.
On the attainment of the bliss of Brahman one becomes free from all present and future miseries. He who realizes that he is the supreme Self and remains established in that realization becomes free from all fear; but he who perceives even the slightest difference from the Self is overcome by fear.
The Taittiriya Upanishad says that the deities Vayu, Surya, Agni, Indra and Yama are in constant fear of Brahman. They attained these positions as a result of very meritorious actions performed in previous lives, but because they have not realized their identity with Brahman they are still subject to fear.
One who has attained the bliss of Brahman does not experience any fear at all and is not troubled by thoughts such as whether he had done meritorious deeds or not, because his actions do not taint him. So says Taittiriya Upanishad, 2.9.1. Giving up all actions and going beyond all thoughts of good and evil, he ever remains engaged in meditation on the Self. He looks upon all actions as identical with the Self. All the desires which bind him are destroyed, all his doubts about the Self are dispelled and all his actions perish in the sense that they do not cause any bondage for him. Only by realizing Brahman one goes beyond death and transmigratory existence. There is no other means to attain this end. All bonds are cut when the effulgent Self is known. All afflictions come to an end and he is not born again. One who has realized that he is none other than the supreme Self becomes free from all worldly joys and sorrows even while living in this world. He is not tormented by thoughts about his acts of commission or omission. The srutis, smritis and puranas repeatedly declare that the realization of Brahman puts an end to all sorrows and confers supreme bliss.
Bliss is of three kinds: The bliss of Brahman, the bliss born of knowledge, and the bliss derived from external objects. Of these, the bliss of Brahman is being described now.
Bhrigu heard the definition of Brahman from his father Varuna. By negating the sheaths of food, vital air. mind and intellect, he realized Brahman reflected in the bliss-sheath. The Taittiriya Upanishad says that all beings are born from bliss, they are sustained by bliss and they finally merge in bliss. (This statement is not elaborated in Panchadasi, but Ramakrishna, in his commentary named Padadipika, explains this verse as follows: Procreation is due to the pleasure derived from physical union, sustenance of life is due to the happiness derived from sense-objects, and happiness is experienced in sleep when the individual soul temporarily merges in the supreme Self). Therefore there is no doubt that Brahman is bliss. Before creation of beings there was only the infinite Brahman without the triad of knower, object known and the act of knowing. In dissolution also the triad will cease to exist. When the created world is in existence, the intellect-sheath is the knower, consciousness reflected in the mind-sheath is knowledge and sound, etc., are the objects known. Before creation none of these three existed. Before the creation of the world and in the states of Samadhi, deep sleep and swoon also the Self alone exists.
Bhagavan Sanatkumara told sage Narada that the infinite Self alone is bliss. There is no happiness in anything finite. (Ch.Up.7.23.1). Even though Narada had mastered the Vedas, Puranas and various scriptures, he still suffered misery because he had not known the Self. Before he began to study the Vedas he suffered only from the three kinds of afflictions natural to all human beings, namely, adhyatmika, those arising from bodily ills, adhibhautika, those caused by other creatures, and adhidaivika, those caused by calamities such as floods, earthquakes, etc. But after he had mastered the Vedas and other scriptures he was, in addition, burdened by the need to keep on reciting what he had learnt, and beset by the fear of forgetting what he had learnt, the fear of being defeated in argument and the pride of learning. So he approached Bhagavan Sanatkumara and prayed for the knowledge that would lift him out of all sorrow. Sanatkumara told him that the ocean of sorrow could be crossed only by attaining Brahman which is pure Bliss. The happiness derived from external objects is always accompanied by sorrow. There is no real or unmixed happiness in the finite realm. It is true that there is no triad of knower, knowing and known in the non-dual Brahman and so there can be no experience of happiness as from sense-objects, but one who has realized Brahman remains as pure bliss. In deep sleep the bliss of Brahman is experienced though there are no objects and no triad. This bliss is therefore self-revealing. In deep sleep one does not suffer the miseries experienced during the waking state, caused by blindness, wounds and sickness. In deep sleep one is united with Brahman and so becomes bliss itself.
The Upanishads give various illustrations to describe the bliss enjoyed in sleep. A falcon, tied to a post by a long string, flies hither and thither and finally, when exhausted and in need of rest, goes back to the post to which it is tied. Similarly, the mind, after experiencing joys and sorrows in the waking and dream states, becomes absorbed in its cause, avidya, in the state of deep sleep. The jiva then becomes one with the supreme Self and enjoys bliss (Ch.Up. 6.8.2 and Br.Up. 4.3.19). A baby, having fed at the breast of its mother, and being free from attachment and aversion, lies in its bed, enjoying its natural bliss. A sovereign emperor, endowed with discrimination and having at his command all the virtuous pleasures within the reach of human beings, and consequently being free from further desire, remains as bliss personified. A great Brahmana who has realized Brahman remains established in the supreme bliss of enlightenment in the state of jivanmukti, having achieved all that was to be achieved. The innocent child, the discriminating emperor and the enlightened Brahmana are examples of supreme bliss. Others are subject to sorrow and not entirely happy. In deep sleep, however, every one enjoys the bliss that is Brahman. In that state he is not conscious of anything internal or external, like a man in the tight embrace of his beloved wife (Br. Up. 4.3.21). The experiences of the waking state are external and those of dream are internal. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that in the state of deep sleep, a father ceases to be a father, a mother ceases to be a mother, worlds cease to be worlds, and so on (4.3.22). Thus all worldly ideas are absent. Then jivahood ceases and Brahman alone remains. Grief is the consequence of identifying oneself as father, son etc. In deep sleep, when such identification is absent, there is no sorrow. One who has woken up from sleep recollects that he slept happily and knew nothing. Recollection presupposes experience. In deep sleep the Self reveals itself as bliss and it also reveals ignorance. Brahman is self-luminous bliss. In deep sleep the mind and intellect remain latent in their cause, avidya. They become manifest when the person wakes up. The person then remembers his experience of happiness and total ignorance during sleep. The state of deep sleep in which the mind and intellect are latent is called the bliss-sheath. When the person wakes up, the mind and intellect sheaths again become manifest. It is the sheath of bliss that is the enjoyer and it is the bliss of Brahman that is enjoyed. In the waking state the modifications of the intellect, which are the instruments of cognition, cover various objects of knowledge, but in deep sleep they become one undifferentiated mass of consciousness. In deep sleep there are no mental modifications in the form of sorrow. The state of deep sleep, in which bliss is enjoyed, ceases and the person wakes up when prompted by his karma. The impression of the bliss enjoyed in sleep remains for a short time after waking up. Then, impelled by his karma, he sets about performing his duties and gradually forgets the bliss of Brahman.
Even though every one enjoys bliss during sleep, he does not realize that bliss to be Brahman itself. Mere intellectual knowledge about Brahman is not enough; Brahman should be realized as one's own self.
Whenever happiness is experienced even without any external object or any event to which it could be attributed, it should be understood to be the impression (vasana) of the bliss of Brahman. The happiness experienced on the fulfillment of any desire is due to the reflection of the bliss of Brahman in the mental modification (vritti). This happiness is called vishayananda, or happiness from the enjoyment of external objects. There are thus only three kinds of happiness: Brahmananda or the bliss of Brahman, Vasanananda or the happiness which is an impression of Brahmananda, and Vishayananda or the reflection of the bliss of Brahman in the mind. Brahmananda is self-revealing and it is what gives rise to the other two kinds of happiness.
The fact that the bliss of Brahman is self-revealing in the state of deep sleep is testified by the scriptures, by reasoning and by experience. The jiva is called Anandamaya in the state of deep sleep when he enjoys the bliss of Brahman. In the states of dream and waking the jiva is identified with the intellect-sheath or Vijnanamayakosha. The sruti says that in the waking state the jiva abides in the eye, in the dream state in the throat and in deep sleep in the lotus of the heart. In the waking state the jiva identifies himself with the gross body and looks upon himself as a man, woman, etc. He then experiences joys and sorrows. When at some time he is free from worries and at the same time is not experiencing joy from any external object, his mind is calm. Then he experiences the natural bliss of the Self. But this bliss is not the supreme bliss of Brahman, as the notion of egoity is also present; it is only an impression of the supreme bliss. This is like the outer surface of an earthen pot full of water being cold to the touch, even though there is no water outside. Just as the presence of water inside a pot can be inferred from the coldness of the outer surface, one can comprehend one's own nature of supreme bliss when one's egoity becomes extremely attenuated by continued practice. The bliss in which there is no experience of duality and which is not the state of deep sleep is the bliss of Brahman. Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in the Bhagavadgita that one should gradually withdraw the mind from all other thoughts and keep it fixed on Brahman. Whenever the mind, which is by nature restless and fickle, strays away, it should be restrained and again fixed on the Self. The Yogi who has made his mind perfectly tranquil and free from all taint, who is sinless and who has realized his identity with Brahman attains supreme bliss. When by the practice of yoga the mind is withdrawn from other objects and concentrated on the Self, the supreme bliss which is beyond the senses and which can be grasped only by the intellect, is attained. There is nothing higher than this state. The person who has attained this state is not disturbed even by the greatest calamity. Yoga is the state of being totally free from any association with sorrow. This Yoga must be practised with determination and a dispassionate mind. The Yogi who is free from all taint and whose mind is ever fixed on the Self experiences the supreme bliss of identity with Brahman. Control of the mind can be achieved by assiduous practice as pointed out in the story about the bird which set about to dry up the ocean by baling out its waters drop by drop with its beak. The story is that the eggs laid by a bird on the seashore were washed away by the waves. The angry bird decided to get back its eggs by drying up the ocean and began to bale out the water with a blade of grass. Sage Narada who was passing by happened to see the bird and was impressed by its determination. He went to Garuda and asked him to go to the rescue of a member of his own species who was pitched against the mighty ocean. Garuda came and threatened the ocean with severe punishment if it did not restore the eggs to the bird. The ocean then returned the eggs to the bird. The moral of this story is that if one has the necessary determination, divine help will come and enable him to achieve his objective.
Just as fire becomes extinguished when the fuel is exhausted, the mind merges in its cause when all modifications cease. When the mind is fixed on Brahman, the ultimate reality, all joys and sorrows resulting from praarabdha karma will be seen to have no reality. It is an ancient truth that the mind assumes the form of the object towards which it is directed. The mind is the cause of transmigratory existence. It should be purified with untiring effort. By the purification of the mind all the impressions left by actions, both good and evil, are destroyed. The purified mind abiding in the Self enjoys infinite bliss. If a person fixes his mind on Brahman with the same intensity with which people fix their mind on sense-objects, all bondage would be definitely eradicated.
The mind which is tainted by desires is an impure mind and the mind which is free from desires is a pure mind. The sruti says that the mind alone is the cause of bondage as well as liberation. Attachment to objects of sense leads to bondage and freedom from attachment is the means to liberation. The bliss arising from absorption in the contemplation of the Self, when the mind becomes cleansed of all impurities, cannot be described in words. It can only be felt in the heart. The enlightened person always enjoys this supreme bliss inwardly even when he is outwardly engaged in worldly activities. The wise man gives up all desire for sensual pleasures and concentrates his mind on the Self so that he can enjoy that supreme bliss. A man whose mind is free from worldly concerns and is fixed on Brahman is not affected by any sorrows resulting from the operation of his fructifying karma. When worldly pleasures which are not opposed to Dharma come to him because of his praarabdha karma, without his seeking them, he looks upon them only as aspects of the bliss of Brahman. He experiences the bliss of Brahman in the waking state as well as in dream, because dreams consist only of the impressions left by the experiences in the waking state.
In this chapter is described the realization of supreme bliss by the Yogi.
Chapter - 12
Atmananda - The Bliss of the Self
The Yogi experiences the bliss of Brahman as stated in the previous chapter. In this chapter the bliss experienced by the unenlightened person is examined.
In the Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad it is said that every one loves others only for his or her own happiness and not for the happiness of the person loved. The husband, wife, son, wealth, animals and all other things are loved only because they give happiness. This is evident from the fact that when a person's wife or son acts in a manner contrary to his wishes, he does not like them. Even an inveterate miser is willing to spend all his money to cure himself of a life-threatening disease, showing that his love of himself takes precedence over his love of money. All other things are loved only as long as they contribute to one's own happiness. So all other persons and things are only means to one's own happiness, and are not desired for their own sake; but happiness is desired for its own sake and not as a means to some thing else. A child, when kissed by its father feels pain by being pricked by the father's bristly beard and cries, but the father goes on kissing the child because he feels happy thereby. This is a clear instance to show that all love is only for one's own happiness. Love of the means to happiness shifts from one object to another, but love of one's own self ever remains the same. Even when a person desires to end his life because of poverty, disease, humiliation or any other reason, it is the body that he wants to get rid of and not the self. Thus the self is the dearest to every one.
The word 'Self' is used in three different senses, namely, figurative (gauna), illusory (mithya) and primary (mukhya). In the sentence 'Devadatta is a lion', the identification of Devadatta with a lion is figurative. The purport of this sentence is that Devadatta possesses some of the characteristics of a lion such as courage, majesty, etc. At the same time the difference between the two is also clearly understood. In the scriptures sometimes a son is identified as the self of his father. This identification is figurative.
When a post is wrongly taken to be a man the identification is illusory. The identification of the self with the body and mind which constitute the five sheaths falls under this category.
The primary meaning of the word 'Self' is the pure unconditioned witness-consciousness or non-dual Brahman.
When a person desirous of attaining heaven performs the prescribed yajna, he knows that it is his subtle body that will go to heaven and not his physical body. He thus looks upon his subtle body as his self.
An aspirant for liberation strives for the realization that he is the pure unconditioned Self. Here the word 'Self' is used in its primary meaning.
Supreme love is felt for the primary Self. One loves everything related to the Self, but the love for them is limited and conditional on their giving happiness. No love is felt for other things.
The degree of love towards various objects of enjoyment varies according to their proximity to the Self. A son is dearer than wealth, one's own body is dearer than one's son, the sense-organs are dearer than the body, life is dearer than the sense-organs and the Self is dearer than everything else.
A married couple intensely desires to have a son and is very unhappy till the wife conceives. After conception there is great worry about safe delivery. When the child is born there are anxieties about its health and whether all its faculties such as eyesight, hearing, etc., would be sound. When the child grows up there is worry about whether he would be intelligent and industrious in studies. Thereafter there is anxiety about whether he would earn well and become rich or suffer from poverty and also whether he would lead a good moral life or not. There is also anxiety about whether he would be healthy and live long or die prematurely. Thus there is no end to the sorrows of parents. The only way to avoid sorrows is to avoid attachment to persons and things and to focus his love on the Self. It should be noted here that attachment is different from love. Attachment puts one at the mercy of the person or thing to which the attachment is directed. But love, which by definition is free from any selfish motive, makes a person independent of the object of love. Love directed equally towards all living beings ennobles.
Love for the supreme Self is in effect love for all creatures, since they are not different from the supreme Self.
Since the Self is of the nature of bliss as well as consciousness, the question arises as to why bliss is not experienced in all modifications of the mind and only consciousness is experienced. This can be answered by taking the example of a lamp. When a lamp burns it emits both heat and light, but only light fills the room and not heat.
When the Self is both bliss and consciousness, how is it that when consciousness is revealed in a mental modification bliss is also not revealed at the same time? This is answered by pointing out that though an object has colour, odour, taste, and touch, only one of these properties is cognized by a particular sense organ. It is not correct to say that colour, odour, and other properties of a flower are different from each other and so the example given is not applicable because bliss and consciousness are not different from each other. The properties of a flower are not different from one another. If it is said that they are different because they are cognized by different sense-organs, then it must be pointed out that there is similarly a seeming difference between bliss and consciousness brought about by difference in the composition of the mental state. When Sattvaguna predominates in the mind, both bliss and consciousness are revealed, while when Rajoguna predominates, only consciousness is revealed and bliss is obscured.
The Lord says in the Bhagavadgita that there are two paths to liberation. One is Yoga and the other is the path of knowledge.
One who knows that the Self is dearest does not desire any external object of enjoyment. Nor does he have aversion towards any thing because he sees no object inimical to himself.
Chapter - 13
Advaitananda - The Bliss of Non-Duality
The Taittiriya Upanishad says that the world is born from bliss, it abides in bliss and finally merges in bliss. This bliss is the same as Brahman. Brahman is thus the material cause of the world.
The relationship between the material cause and the effect is explained in different ways in the different schools. According to Vaiseshika, the effect is something new and absolutely different from the cause. This is known as Arambhavada.
The Sankhyas hold the view that the effect is an actual transformation of the cause, like milk changing into curd, clay into pot and gold into ornaments. This is known as Parinamavada.
In the case of a rope appearing as a snake, there is no real transformation. The snake is only a Vivarta or apparent modification of the rope. The appearance of the snake is due to ignorance of the rope. Similarly, the world is only a Vivarta of Brahman. Maya conceals Brahman and projects the world.
Maya is the power of Brahman. Power does not exist apart from its possessor. At the same time, power is not identical with its possessor, because even when the power is obstructed, its possessor remains the same. Power cannot be directly perceived, but can only be inferred from its effect. Maya, the power of Brahman, manifests as action, knowledge and will. The supreme unconditioned Brahman is eternal, infinite and non-dual. When associated with Maya, Brahman is described as omnipotent.
Brahman becomes manifest as consciousness in all living beings. Its power appears as movement in air, hardness in stone, liquidity in water, and heat in fire. Just as a tree with its branches, leaves, flowers, fruits, etc., is latent in the seed, so is this world latent in Brahman (before manifestation). When Brahman assumes the power of cognition it is called the mind. The notions of bondage and liberation arise in the mind.
In Yogavasishta it is said that a nurse narrated the following story to amuse a child. Once upon a time there were three handsome princes. Two of them were never born and the third was never even conceived. They lived righteously in a city which never existed. While moving about in the city the princes saw trees laden with fruits growing in the sky. Then they went to another city which had not yet come into existence and lived there happily, spending their time in games and hunting. The child believed all this to be true because of lack of discriminating capacity. In the same way this world is accepted as real by those who have no discrimination. Sage Vasishta described the power of Maya through such stories.
Maya is different from its effect as well as from its substratum. It can only be inferred from its effect, just as the burning power of an ember can be inferred only from the blister caused by it.
An effect is non-different from its cause. A clay pot is not different from the clay, because it has no existence apart from the clay. At the same time, the pot is not identical with clay, because it is not perceived in the un-moulded clay. Therefore the pot has to be called indescribable, like the power which produced it. Because of this, the Chandogya Upanishad says that the pot is not real, being only a name, reality being attributed only to the clay (Ch.Up. 6.1.4). Of the three entities, namely, the product of power which is perceptible, the power itself which is not perceptible, and the substratum in which they both inhere, only the third persists; the first two exist by turns. So only the third is real. The pot has a beginning and an end. It is therefore not real. Before the pot was made it was only clay. When the pot exists, it is also only clay. After the pot is destroyed there is only clay. Thus clay alone is real. (It should be noted that this reality is only from the empirical point of view).
The illusory snake disappears when the substratum, rope, is known. But a pot continues to appear as such even after its substratum, clay, is known. So the question is, how can the pot be said to be illusory? The answer is that though the pot is still seen, it is realized that it has no reality apart from clay. The substitution of the notion that the pot has a reality of its own by the realization that it is nothing but clay with a particular name and form can be described as destruction of the pot.
The world is superimposed on Brahman. Even after the realization that Brahman is the only reality the world continues to be perceived by the realized person, but it is not accepted as real by him. He is not affected by the joys and sorrows in the world. It is in this sense that the world is said to have ceased to exist when Brahman is realized.
In an actual transformation, as in the case of milk becoming curd, the original substance, milk, disappears. But in the modification of clay into pot, or gold into ornaments, the substratum, clay or gold, remains as such. Chandogya Upanishad says that by knowing a lump of clay, everything made of clay is known. Similarly, by knowing Brahman the whole phenomenal universe is known. Brahman is existence, consciousness and bliss, whereas the world consists of name and form.
Before the manifestation of the universe Maya remained unmanifest in Brahman. The Svetasvatara Upanishad says: "Know Maya to be Prakriti (the material cause of the universe), and the supreme Lord to be the Ruler (or substratum) of Maya". Name and form are merely superimposed on Brahman.
By the continuous practice of meditation on Brahman a person becomes established in the knowledge of Brahman. Then he becomes liberated from Samsara.
In dream a man sees impossible things happening, but at that time he does not even realize that they are impossible, but accepts them as correct. When such is the power of dream, what is there to wonder about the power of Maya which projects this universe and makes it appear real? The whole universe is only the projection of names and forms in Brahman by Maya. When one realizes that all names and forms have no reality and rejects them he remains as the pure Brahman. Even if he continues to be engaged in worldly matters he is not affected by the joys and sorrows arising from them.
Just as a huge rock lying in the bed of a river remains unaffected even though water continuously flows over it, Brahman remains unchanged while names and forms keep on changing.
Realizing that Brahman is existence, consciousness and bliss, one should keep his mind fixed on Brahman and restrain it from dwelling on names and forms. Thus the bliss of non-duality will be realized.
Chapter - 14
Vidyananda - The Bliss of Knowledge
In this chapter the bliss experienced by a person who has attained the knowledge (realization) of Brahman through one of the three paths described in the preceding three chapters, namely, the practice of yoga, discriminative knowledge of the Self, and constant contemplation of the unreality of duality, is described.
The happiness arising from external objects is a modification of the intellect. Similarly, the bliss arising from the realization of Brahman is also a modification of the intellect. This bliss has four aspects. These are, absence of sorrow, the fulfillment of all desires, the satisfaction of having done all that had to be done, and the feeling of having attained the goal of life.
The jiva identifies himself with the subtle and gross bodies and thinks of himself as an agent (doer) and an enjoyer. The names and forms in the universe are looked upon as objects of enjoyment. When the jiva realizes that he is the supreme Brahman and gives up identification with the bodies, there is neither enjoyer nor objects of enjoyment. It is the identification with the bodies that is the cause of all desires, since all desires are for the comfort of the body. Sorrow results when a desire is not fulfilled. The knower of Brahman realizes that worldly objects have no reality and so he has no desire for them.
Just as water does not stick to the leaves of the lotus, actions performed after realization do not attach to the knower, because actions are performed by the body and the knower of Brahman has no identification with the body. The accumulated actions (sanchita karma) are burnt by the fire in the form of the knowledge of Brahman.
The injunctions and prohibitions of the Vedas do not have any application to the enlightened person. These are applicable only as long as one identifies oneself with the body and the mind. Any action performed by a realized soul is not action at all, because he has no sense of doership. Whatever action he performs is only for the welfare of the world and not for any benefit for himself, because he is the pure Self which has no desires. He enjoys supreme bliss. The present body continues till the praarabdha karma which brought it into existence is exhausted. On the fall of this body he will not be born again because there will be no karma left to give him another birth.
The bliss of the Self is beyond the grasp of the mind and the senses. It is superior even to the happiness enjoyed by Brahma and other gods.
Chapter - 15
Vishayananda - The happiness from external objects
In this chapter the happiness derived by the contact of the sense-organs with external objects is described. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says that this happiness is only a particle of the bliss of Brahman (Br. Up. 4.3.32).
Mental modifications (vrittis) are of three kinds - calm (sattvic), agitated (rajasic) and dull (tamasic). The sattvic modifications are detachment, forbearance and generosity. The rajasic modifications are craving, attachment, greed, and the like. The tamasic modifications are delusion, fear, etc. The consciousness aspect of Brahman is reflected in modifications of all kinds, but the bliss aspect is reflected only in sattvic modifications.
The same supreme Self dwells in all bodies. Though it is only one, it appears as many, like the reflections of the moon in different vessels of water. The reflection of the moon is clear if the water is pure and faint if the water is muddy. Similarly, Brahman appears differently in different bodies, depending on the nature of the mental modification.
Brahman is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. The existence aspect alone is manifested in inanimate objects, but not consciousness and bliss. This is because inanimate objects have no subtle body which alone can reflect consciousness and bliss. The consciousness aspect is manifested in all animate beings, even when the mind is agitated, for we see that even a person who is unhappy is conscious. But the bliss aspect is manifested only when the mind is calm. A doubt arises as to why, when Brahman has both the aspects of consciousness and bliss, only one of them, consciousness, is reflected in an agitated mind. When you look at the reflection of your face in a mirror, you find that the face in its entirety is reflected and not only some aspects of it. This doubt is answered by giving two examples. When water is in contact with fire, only the heat aspect of fire is absorbed by the water and not the light of fire. But when a log of wood comes into contact with fire, it absorbs both the heat and the light aspects. Similarly, only the consciousness aspect of Brahman is reflected in an agitated mind, but both the consciousness and the bliss aspects are reflected when the mind is calm.
When there is some desire in the mind there is anxiety about whether the desired object will be attained or not. In such a condition there can be no happiness. But as soon as the desired object is attained, the mind becomes calm. The bliss of Brahman is then reflected in the mind. The happiness experienced then is wrongly attributed to the attainment of the desired object, while it is really due to the mind becoming calm. This happiness continues only till another desire arises and agitates the mind. When a person has attained complete detachment towards worldly pleasures and is free from desires, his mind is absolutely calm and then supreme bliss is experienced.
Brahman is existence, consciousness and bliss. In inanimate objects such as stones, only the existence aspect is manifest, because they have no subtle body which alone can reflect consciousness. In all living beings both existence and consciousness are manifest. All the three aspects of Brahman are manifest in a mind that is predominantly sattvic.
Brahman is in reality devoid of all attributes. The multifarious names and forms in the world are superimposed on Brahman by Maya. For those who are incapable of meditating on the attributeless Brahman meditation on Brahman with attributes is prescribed in the scriptures.
When the non-dual, self-luminous, attributeless Brahman is known, there is no triad of knower, knowing and known. Then there is infinite bliss.
May the Lord who is both Hari and Hara protect all those who, with a pure mind, surrender themselves to Him.