Vivekachudamani of Adi Sankara
[Crest Jewel of Discrimination]
A Summary - Based on the Commentary of Pujya Sri Jagadguru Chandrasekhara Bharati Swami
By S. N. Sastri
Sri Sankara Bhagavatpada has blessed the world with an enormous legacy of invaluable gems. These can be grouped under three broad categories. The first category, meant for the intellectually most advanced, comprises his commentaries (bhaashya) on the Upanishads, Brahmasutras and the Bhagavadgita, known collectively as the prasthaanatrayam. The second category consists of independent works, known as prakarana granthas, which expound the gist of the upanishads in simple language. These vary in length from half a verse to one thousand verses. In the third category fall devotional hymns addressed to various deities. Through these devotional hymns also the teachings of Vedanta are conveyed. There is a wrong impression among some persons, particularly Western scholars, that Sri Sankara did not attach importance to devotion to a personal God. On the basis of this view they conclude that the devotional hymns cannot be works of Sri Sankara. This view is belied by Sri Sankara's own statements in his commentaries, which are accepted by all to be his works. For example, in his commentary on the Gita, 2.39, he explains Krishna's words to Arjuna thus - "You will become free from bondage by the attainment of knowledge through God's grace". Again, in18.65 - "Knowing for certain that liberation is the definite result of devotion to God, one should be intent only on surrender to God". Moreover, Sri Sankara is well known for having re - established the worship of the supreme God - head in His six aspects, and is referred to as the Shanmatasthapaka.
Unlike the Sankhyas who gave importance only to the Jnaanakaanda and the Purva Mimamsakas who dismissed the Upanishads as mere arthavada or eulogy, Sankara established in his bhaashyas that both the kaandas have validity, though at different stages of the aspirant's spiritual progress. In his bhaashya on Br. Up. 4.4.2 he says - "All the obligatory rites serve as means to liberation through the attainment of Self - knowledge. Hence we see that the ultimate purpose of the two parts of the Vedas, that dealing with rites and that dealing with Self - knowledge, is the same". In many places in the Karma kanda there are clear indications that the ultimate goal of life is liberation.
What is Advaita Vedanta? Dr. T.M.P. Mahadevan says in his book 'Ramana Maharshi and His Philosophy of Existence' - "We believe that Advaita is not a sectarian doctrine. It is the culmination of all doctrines, the crown of all views. Though other views may imagine themselves to be opposed to Advaita, Advaita is opposed to none. As Gaudapada, a pre - Sankara teacher of Advaita, says, Advaita has no quarrel with any system of philosophy. While the pluralistic world - views may be in conflict with one another, Advaita is not opposed to any of them. It recognizes the measure of truth that there is in each of them; but only, that truth is not the whole. Hostility arises out of partial vision. When the whole truth is realized, there can be no hostility. (Mandukya Karika, III. 17 &18; IV. 5)".
The core of Advaita is that Brahman is the only reality. 'Reality' is defined as that which does not undergo any change at any time. By this test, Brahman, which is absolutely changeless and eternal, is alone real. The world keeps on changing all the time and so it cannot be considered as real. At the same time, we cannot dismiss it as unreal, because it is actually experienced by us. The example of a rope being mistaken for a snake in dim light is used to explain this. The snake so seen produces the same reaction, such as fear and trembling of the limbs, as a real snake would. It cannot therefore be said to be totally unreal. At the same time, on examination with the help of a lamp it is found that the snake never existed and that the rope alone was there all the time. The snake cannot be described as both real and unreal, because these two contradictory qualities cannot exist in the same entity. It must therefore be said that the snake is neither real nor unreal. Just as the snake appears because of ignorance of the fact that there is only a rope, this world appears to exist because of our ignorance of Brahman. Thus the world is also neither real nor unreal; it is 'mithya' or 'anirvachaniya', meaning 'indescribable'. Just as the snake is superimposed on the rope, the world is superimposed on Brahman. Our ignorance of Brahman is what is called avidya or ajnana or nescience. This nescience has two powers, the power to conceal the reality, known as aavarana sakti and the power to project the unreal, known as vikshepasakti. Because of these two powers, nescience not only covers Brahman, but it further projects the universe and makes it appear real. The world has no reality apart from Brahman, just as the snake has no reality apart from the rope. When the knowledge of Brahman arises, the world is seen as a mere appearance of Brahman. Another example may be taken to explain this. Ornaments of different sizes and shapes are made out of one gold bar. Their appearance and the use for which they are meant vary, but the fact that they are all really only gold, in spite of the different appearances and uses, cannot be denied. The appearance may change, a bangle may be converted into rings, but the gold always remains as gold. Similarly, on the dawn of the knowledge of Brahman (which is the same as the Self), though the different forms continue to be seen by the Jnaani, he sees them all only as appearances of the one Brahman. Thus the perception of difference and the consequences of such perception, such as looking upon some as favourable and others as the opposite, and the consequent efforts to retain or get what is favourable and to get rid of or avoid what is not favourable, come to an end. This is the state of liberation even while living, which is known as Jivanmukti.
The Jiva, or individual, is none but Brahman, but because of identification with the body, mind and senses he looks upon himself as different from Brahman and as a limited being, subject to joys and sorrows caused by external factors. This identification with the body, mind and senses is what is called bondage. In reality the Jiva is the pure Brahman and is different from the body - mind complex. When this truth is realized as an actual experience, the identification with the body - mind complex ceases. This is liberation. Thus liberation is not the attainment of a state which did not exist previously, but only the realization of what one has always been. The illusory snake never existed. What existed even when the snake was seen was only the rope. Similarly, bondage has no real existence at all. Even when we are ignorant of Brahman and think of ourselves as limited by the body, we are really none but the infinite Brahman. Liberation is thus only the removal of the wrong identification with the body, mind and senses. The attainment of the state of liberation - in - life or Jivanmukti is the goal of human life according to the Upanishads.
The method followed in Vedanta to explain the nature of Brahman is known as 'superimposition and denial' (adhyaaropa and apavaada). Only an object that has a quality or an activity or a relationship with some other known object can be described by words. Brahman is devoid of all these and so it cannot be described directly. The world, with which we are familiar, is therefore taken as the starting point and we are gradually led from the known to the unknown and unknowable that is Brahman. It cannot be known because it can never be objectified. It is the eternal subject in whose mere presence the body, mind and the sense organs function. It is pure consciousness and it is the reflection of this consciousness that makes the body, mind and senses appear to be conscious.
The world is called prapancha because it has five characteristics, namely, existence (asti), manifestation (bhaati), lovability (priyam), name (naama), and form (roopa). Of these, the last two are different for each entity or object. They are always subject to change and are the products of maaya. The unenlightened person looks upon this aggregate of five characteristics as the world. The first three constitute the essential nature of Brahman (or the Self) which is Existence - Consciousness - Bliss. The enlightened person knows that this Brahman is the only reality and that the world is only an appearance on this Brahman which is the substratum. The Upanishads speak of Brahman as the cause of the world, but this is only to enable us to understand the ultimate truth that the world has no reality. Sri Sankara makes this clear in his bhaashya on Br.up.2.1.20 : "Therefore, the mention in all the Vedanta texts of th eorigin, sustenance and dissolution of the universe is only to strengthen our idea of Brahman being a homogeneous entity, and not to tell us that the origin, etc, is real. Nor is it reasonable to suppose that a part of the indivisible, transcendental Supreme Self becomes the relative, individual self, because the Supreme Self is intrinsically without parts". This is the method of superimposition and subsequent denial. Ultimately the nature of Brahman as the only reality is brought out by the famous words in the Br.Up, 'neti, neti', ('not this, not this'). When the whole universe, which is only a projection by nescience, is negated what remains is the eternal, immutable, non - dual Brahman.
Vivekachudamani is a prakarana grantha. It consists of 581 verses. It is not divided into chapters or sections. It is in the form of a dialogue between an ardent seeker and his Guru. The fundamental principle in Vedanta is that its teachings should be imparted only to those who sincerely seek it and approach a Guru with deference and faith. In this work the Guru proceeds step by step, answering the doubts of the disciple with patience until at the end the disciple attains realization.
The actual text will be taken up in the subsequent pages. Though this is entitled 'A Summary', what is proposed is not only to give the meaning of the verses, but to further supplement it by explanatory notes wherever necessary.
In the first sloka Sri Sankara pays obeisance to God and his own Guru. The sloka says: I bow down to Govinda who is the goal of all Vedanta, who is beyond words and thought, who is supreme bliss itself and who is my Guru. By the word Govinda the supreme Lord as well as Sri Sankara's Guru Sri Govinda bhagavatpada are meant. It is laid down in our tradition that the Guru should be looked upon as God Himself and not as a mere human being. In his work entitled Satasloki, in the very first sloka Sri Sankara declares that the Sadguru is incomparable in all the three worlds. He says:
"There is nothing in all the three worlds that can be compared to the Sadguru who imparts the knowledge of the Self. The legendary Philosopher's stone may perhaps be suggested as an apt comparison, because it has the capacity to convert a piece of iron into gold, just as the Sadguru converts an ordinary disciple into an enlightened person. But this comparison cannot stand because, while the Sadguru makes the disciple another Guru like himself, the Philosopher'ss tone does not have the power to convert a piece of iron into another Philosopher's stone like itself. Therefore the Sadguru is incomparable and his glory transcends the world".
Human Birth is Precious
After paying obeisance to God and Guru, Sri Sankara says that birth as a human being is difficult to get. A jiva goes through innumerable births in the form of various other creatures before being born as a human being. Even after birth as a human being, to have an inclination to study the scriptures, to attain discrimination between the Self and the not - Self, and ultimately to attain liberation, are the results of punya acquired in innumerable past lives.
Three things are very rare, and attained only through the grace of God: the quality of being a human being in the true sense of the term (not mere birth as a human being), an intense yearning for liberation, and association with a great soul. A person who, in spite of having the advantages of birth in a cultured family and study of the Vedas does not strive for liberation wastes his precious life. Liberation cannot be attained through acquisition of wealth or through mere performance of rituals laid down in the Vedas or through noble deeds, as long as they are performed with the desire to get some personal benefit. This should not be understood to mean that rituals and noble deeds are to be discarded. On the other hand, Sri Sankara stresses in many places that the actions ordained by the Vedas should be performed in order to attain purity of mind. If the same actions are performed as karma yoga, that is, without desire for any personal benefit for the performer and as an offering to God, they will lead to purity of mind. Even a good action, whether ritualistic or worldly, performed with the desire to derive some personal benefit or just fame, creates bondage. Even the acquisition of punya by the performance of good deeds produces bondage because the person has to be born again in order to enjoy the results of his good actions. So a spiritual aspirant has to perform actions in such a way that they do not produce even punya. The Gita says that no one can remain without performing action even for a moment. Since the performance of actions is inevitable, one has to perform them in such a way that they do not produce either punya or paapa. The method of achieving this is karma yoga. Sri Sankara explains in his commentary on the Gita that in the word 'karmayoga' the word 'yoga' is used in the sense of the 'means to attain union with Brahman'. So 'karmayoga' means action performed in such a way that it becomes the means to union with Brahman, which is liberation. The statement in Bhagavadgita, 2.50, "yogah karmasu kaushalam' is interpreted by Sri Sankara in his Bhashya thus: Yoga is skillfulness in action. The skillfulness consists in converting action which is by its very nature the cause of bondage into a means for removal of bondage. This means is karma yoga. Karma yoga purifies the mind. It is only a pure mind, that is, a mind free from desires, greed, infatuation etc., that is fit to receive the knowledge of the Self. Liberation is attained only through knowledge of one's real nature and not by actions alone, whether Vedic or worldly. For attaining knowledge of the Self one should give up the hankering after worldly pleasures and approach a Guru who is an enlightened person. He should then enquire into the nature of the Self, in accordance with the instructions of his Guru.
A man who has mistaken a rope for a snake in dim light is frightened and screams for help. His fear will disappear only if he finds out the real nature of the object in front with the light of a lamp. No action to drive away the illusory snake will help. Similarly, one should enquire into one's own real nature by hearing the scriptures from his Guru (sravanam), reflecting on what he has heard to remove doubts (mananam) and meditating on the teachings (nididhyaasanam).
Why liberation cannot be the result of any action.
The results of all actions fall under four categories only: production, attainment, modification, and purification. Brahman is ever - existent and so it is not something to be produced. We are always Brahman even when we do not know it and so it is not something to be attained. Brahman ever exists as changeless and so it is not something to be attained by modifying something. It is ever pure and so it is not to be got by purifying something. As we know from actual experience, anything brought into existence by action has a beginning and has therefore an end also. But liberation is permanent. Because of all these reasons liberation cannot be the result of any action. Liberation is nothing but the removal of our ignorance about our real nature. Ignorance can be removed only by knowledge and not by any other means.
The spiritual aspirant has to acquire certain preliminary qualifications known as saadhana - chatushtaya. These will be described in the next article.
Four Preliminary Requisites (Saadhana Chatushtayam)
In order that hearing, reflection and meditation may be fruitful, the aspirant should have acquired the four preliminary qualifications mentioned below.
The four requisites are (1) discrimination between the eternal and the non - eternal (nitya - anitya - vastu vivekah),(2) detachment towards all enjoyments in this world as well as in higher worlds like heaven (iha - amutra - phalabhoga - viraagah), (3) possession of the six virtues commencing with control of the mind (shamaadi shatka sampattih), and (4) intense yearning for liberation (mumukshutvam). Each of these is explained below.
(1) The firm conviction that Brahman alone is real and that the universe is illusory (mithyaa) is discrimination between the eternal and the non - eternal.
(2) Detachment is revulsion towards all objects of enjoyment in this world as well as in higher worlds, including one's own body.
(3) The six virtues starting with shama are - shama, dama, uparati, titikshaa, shraddhaa, samaadhaana. These are explained below.
(a) Withdrawing the mind from all sense - pleasures by realizing their harmful nature, and making it rest on one's objective (namely, the Self) is shama.
(b) Restraining the organs of sense and of action (jnaanendriya and karmendriya) is known as dama.
(c) When the mind ceases to function through the external organs, that state is uparati.
(d) Enduring all adversities without lament or anxiety and without seeking to counter them is titikshaa.
(e) Firm conviction about the truth of the scriptures and the teachings of the Guru is shraddhaa.
(f) The mind remaining firmly fixed in the attributeless Brahman is samaadhaana.
(4)The fourth requisite, mumukshutvam is intense yearning to become free from nescience (avidya) and its effect, bondage, by the realization of one's true nature. In his Bhashya on Gita,4.11 Sri Sankara says that itis impossible for a person to be a seeker of liberation and also a seeker of the fruits of action at the same time. From this it is clear that only a person who has attained total and intense detachment can be called a mumukshu. The definition of yogaarudha in Gita 6.4 as one who is free from attachment to sense - objects and actions and does not even think of them indicates that both these terms have the same meaning.
Of these, detachment and the yearning for liberation are the most important. Only if these two are strong, will the others like shama, etc, be fruitful. If detachment and desire for liberation are not very strong, the other qualities will be unreal like the water in a mirage and will be of no use.
In sloka 32 of Vivekachudamani it is said, "Among the various means for liberation, bhakti is the greatest". But the word 'bhakti' is not used here in the usual sense of devotion to a personal God. In this sloka itself bhakti is defined as 'continuous contemplation of one's essential nature - sva - svarupa - anusandhaana. According to the commentary of Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati this word means nididhyaasana or profound repeated meditation on the mahaavakya, which follows sravana, hearing the sruti from the Guru, and manana, reflecting on the same to remove all doubts.
In this context the specific meanings of these three words, sravana, manana, and nididhyaasana, as given in other authoritative works may be quoted because these words have a very important place in Vedanta: - -
Vedantasaara of Sadaananda, ch.5, para 182 - Hearing is the determination, by the application of the six characteristic signs, that the purport of the entire Vedanta is the non - dual Brahman. The six signs are - (1) the beginning and the conclusion, (2) repetition, (3) originality, (4)result, (5) eulogy and (6) demonstration. The Sanskrit terms for these are, respectively, upakramopasamhaara, abhyaasa, apoorvataa, phala, arthavaada, and upapatti. Each of these terms is explained below.
Vedantasaara,ch.5. para 185 - The term ' the beginning and the conclusion' means the presentation of the subject matter of a section at the beginning and at the end of the section. For example, in the sixth chapter of the Chhaandogya Upanishad, Brahman, which is the subject - matter of the chapter, is introduced at the beginning with the words, "One only without a second", etc. (6.2.1). At the end of the chapter Brahman is again spoken of in the words, "In It all that exists has its Self", etc. (6.8.7).
Para 186 - Repetition is the repeated presentation of the subject - matter in the section. In the same chapter, Brahman, the One without a second, is mentioned nine times by the sentence "Thou art That".
Para 187 - 'Originality' means that the subject - matter of the section is not known through any other source of knowledge. For instance, the subject matter of the above section, namely, Brahman, cannot be known through any source of knowledge other than the sruti.
Para188 - The 'result' is the utility of the subject - matter. For example, in the same section, we find the sentences" One who has a teacher realizes Brahman. He has to wait only as long as he is not freed from the body; then he is united with Brahman". (6.14.2). Here the utility of the knowledge is attainment of Brahman.
Para 189 - Eulogy is the praise of the subject - matter. The words in this section, "Did you ask for that instruction by which one knows what has not been known, etc" (6.1.3) are spoken in praise of Brahman.
Para 190 - Demonstrationis the reasoning in support of the subject - matter, adduced at different places in the same section. An example is - "My dear, as by one lump of clay all that is made of clay is known, every modification being only a name, and being real only as clay" - (6.4.1). This shows that the universe has no reality except as an apparent modification of Brahman, the only Reality.
Para 191 - Reflection is the constant thinking of Brahman, the One without a second, already heard about from the teacher, by making use of arguments in a constructive manner.
Para 192 - Meditation is keeping the mind fixed on the thought of Brahman, uninterrupted by any other thought.
The result achieved by 'hearing' etc.
'Hearing' removes the doubt whether the upanishadic text which is the pramaana purports to teach about Brahman or about some other entity. This doubt is known as pramaana - asambhaavanaa, or the doubt about the pramaana itself. The pramaana here is the upanishad.
'Reflection' removes the doubt whether Brahman and the jiva are identical or not. This doubt is called prameya - asambhaavanaa, doubt about the subject - matter.
'Meditation' is intended to remove wrong notions such as "The universe is real; the difference between Brahman and jiva is real", which are contrary to the teachings of the upanishads, by developing concentration of the mind. Such wrong notions are known as viparita - bhaavanaa.
Thus the purpose of hearing, reflection and meditation is the removal of obstacles in the form of doubts and wrong notions that stand in the way of the origination of Self - knowledge.
A person who has acquired the preliminary qualifications mentioned earlier should approach a Guru and seek his help. Sri Sankara says in his Bhashya on the Mundakopanishad that no one should undertake the enquiry about Brahman without the help of a Guru. This is because the subject is very subtle and one is apt to misunderstand the scriptures.
Qualities of the Guru
The Guru should be well - versed in the scriptures, sinless, free from desires. The mind of the Guru is always fixed on Brahman. He is full of compassion. He is always intent on helping others without the expectation of anything in return. The disciple should approach the Guru with humility and pray to him to instruct him on the means to attain liberation. The Guru tells such an earnest seeker that he is in reality none other than the supreme Self and that all sufferings are due only to ignorance of his real nature. This ignorance can be removed by the knowledge that will arise by a proper enquiry into the import of the Upanishads. The disciple then asks the following seven questions.
1. What is bondage?
2. How did it arise?
3. How does it continue?
4. How can it be eradicated?
5. What is the not - Self?
6. Who is the Paramaatmaa?
7. How can we distinguish between the two?
These questions are answered in the rest of this treatise.
On hearing the questions put by the disciple the Guru tells him that by his intense yearning for liberation he has sanctified his lineage. Now the Guru stresses the importance of personal effort by giving several examples. If a father has incurred debts, his sons and others can relieve him by paying off the debts, but liberation can be attained only by one's own effort and not by anybody else's help. Even the Guru can only show the way. If a person carrying a heavy load is tired, some other person can take it over, but the suffering caused by hunger can be assuaged only if the person himself eats. A person can get cured of a disease only if he himself takes the medicine. The nature of the Reality can be known only if the person himself acquires the knowledge free from all doubt by his own effort by the practice of hearing, reflection and meditation and not by merely hearing a learned person talk about it. The beauty of the moon can be seen and enjoyed only through one's own eyes and not by somebody else seeing and describing it. This example shows that one should himself attain the experience of the Reality and mere intellectual knowledge acquired from books and teachers is not enough. Who, other than the person himself, can liberate one from the bondage caused by ignorance, desire and actions even in millions of years? Desire, action, and rebirth form a continuous vicious circle, each being the cause of the next. This circle can be broken only by the realization of the Self. Liberation cannot be attained through the Yoga of Patanjali or the Sankhya of Kapila because they give only dualistic knowledge and not the knowledge of the non - dual Brahman. Nor can liberation be attained by any action including Vedic rituals, as already explained earlier. Knowledge of the upasanas (meditations on Saguna Brahman) described in the Upanishads too cannot give liberation. Only the knowledge of the identity of the individual self with Brahman will give liberation. Even here it is wrong to say that realization of Brahman is an effect of the knowledge of Brahman. If it is an effect it will, like all effects, be subject to destruction at some time. Knowledge of Brahman does not make one Brahman. It only removes nescience or avidya and reveals the fact that he was always Brahman, which was not known earlier. Scholarship in the Sastras and the ability to give brilliant discourses on them can help to earn fame and a comfortable life, but not liberation.
As long as the supreme Self is not known, mere study of the Sastras is fruitless. Once the supreme Self is known, the study of the Sastras does not serve any further purpose. The idea is that the study of the Sastras is for attaining Self - realization. Until it is attained the purpose of the study is not achieved. After realization the Sastras are no longer necessary. Mere study of the words of the scriptures only confuses the mind. One should, with effort, learn the inner truth of the scriptures from a Guru.
For a person who has been bitten by the snake of ignorance the only medicine is knowledge of Brahman. How can the Vedas, Sastras, mantras and other medicines help? A person cannot be cured of a disease unless he takes the appropriate medicine. Mere repetition of the name of the medicine cannot cure him. Similarly, release from bondage can be attained only by direct realization and not by merely repeating the word 'Brahman'. Without negating the world as unreal and without knowing the truth of one's nature, how can liberation be attained by mere repetition of words? In order to retrieve a treasure buried under the earth one must first of all know the exact location of the treasure from a knowledgeable person. Then he should dig and remove the earth, stones, etc., that cover the treasure. Merely calling out to the treasure will not make it come out. Similarly, the pure Reality which is covered by the products of ignorance (the body, mind, and senses) can be attained only by hearing the sruti from a competent person who has realized Brahman, and by reflection and meditation and not by perverted logic. Therefore each one should himself strive for liberation with utmost effort, just as a sick man strives hard to get cured.
After stressing personal effort and explaining in detail what a seeker should do, the Acharya encourages the disciple by telling him that the questions he has asked are excellent, in accord with the scriptures, brief and full of meaning. The answer to these questions should be known by all seekers of liberation.
After this the Guru first takes up the fourth question, how can bondage be got rid of, because this is the most important subject.
Means to Liberation
The first requisite for a spiritual aspirant is intense detachment towards all things that are impermanent, i.e. everything other than the Self. Then come control of the senses, control of the mind, etc. He should give up all actions motivated by desire for his own benefit. That means that all actions should be performed in the spirit of karma yoga. He should hear the teachings of the sruti from a teacher, reflect on the teachings to remove all doubts, and meditate on them. All these should be done continuously over a long period.
Discrimination between the Self and the not - Self
The seventh question asked by the disciple is now taken up. The Acharya first takes up the physical body which every one knows about and which every one refers to as 'I'.
The physical body is made up of seven substances; marrow, bone, fat, flesh, blood, skin and the cuticle. All these are the products of the food and drinks consumed. This is explained in Chandogyopanishad as follows: - -
Ch.up.6.5.1. SankaraBhashya (S.B) - Food, when eaten, becomes divided in three ways. The grossest portion of the food turns into faeces. The medium constituent becomes flesh. The subtlest part, having reached the heart, enters into the fine nerves named hitaa, becomes transformed into the mind - stuff and nourishes the mind. It therefore follows that the mind is made of matter. It is not considered as eternal and part less as held by the Vaiseshikas. (It is of the size of the body - madhyama parimaana).
Ch.up.6.5.2.S.B - Water (or any liquid) when drunk becomes divided in three ways. The grossest portion becomes urine. The medium constituent becomes blood. The subtlest part becomes the vital force (praana). Ch.up.6.7.1 says - "The vital force is made up of water. It will depart from him who does not drink water".
Ch.up.6.5.3.S.B - Butter, oil, etc, when consumed, become divided in three ways. The grossest portion becomes bone. The medium constituent becomes marrow, the greasy substance inside the bones. The subtlest part becomes the (subtle) organ of speech (vaak). It is a well known fact that by the consumption oil, butter and the like, speech becomes clear and powerful.
The physical body is the basis of the delusion in the form of 'I' and 'mine'. It is made up of various components as stated above. Just as a house made up of various materials is meant for its owner, so also the body made up of various components is for the atma which is the owner of the body. So the atma is different from the body. Moreover, the body is always undergoing changes and is impermanent and so it cannot be the atma which is changeless and eternal.
The gross body is made up of the five gross elements. The process by which the five subtle elements, namely, ether, air, fire, water and earth, become gross elements is known as 'pancheekaranam' or quintuplicate. The process is described by Swami Vidyaranya in Panchadasi as below: -
Panchadasi.1.26,27 - The omnipotent Lord combined the five subtle elements by the process known as 'pancheekaranam' (quintuplicate) and produced gross elements to provide the jivas (individual souls) with physical bodies and objects of enjoyment. The process of combination of the subtle elements is this. Each subtle element is divided into two equal parts. The second half of each such element is again divided into four equal parts (i.e. to get one - eighth of each element). Then the first half of each element is combined with one - eighth of each of the other four elements to make a gross element. The result is that in a gross element of earth one half is earth itself and the other half is made up of the elements of water, fire, air and space in equal shares. Similarly with the other four gross elements.
The five essences of the subtle elements, namely, sound which is the essence of ether, touch which is the essence of air, colour which is the essence of fire, taste which is the essence of water, and smell which is the essence of earth, become the objects of sense which are experienced by the respective sense - organs. Human beings who are attached to objects of senses continue to transmigrate. As long as there is attachment to sense - objects there is no hope whatsoever of liberation. A person who attempts to cross the ocean of transmigratory existence without acquiring total detachment is sure to be seized by the crocodile of desire and drowned. One who has killed the crocodile in the form of desire for sense pleasures with the sword of detachment can alone hope to cross the ocean of samsara without obstruction. The aspirant for liberation should follow the teachings of his Guru and cultivate detachment. He should shun worldly pleasures, equating them to poison. He should cultivate with great eagerness the virtues of contentment, compassion, forbearance, honesty, straight forwardness, calmness and self - control. He who aspires to realize the Self while continuing to indulge in sense pleasures is like a man who tries to cross a river on the back of a crocodile, mistaking it for a log of wood. He is sure to be swallowed up by the crocodile midway. For the seeker of liberation attachment to his body, wife, children, etc., is as bad as death. He alone deserves liberation who has completely rid himself of attachment. The importance of detachment has been stressed in a number of verses by the Acharya. In order to create dispassion it is pointed out that the gross body is despicable because it is made up of revolting substances such as skin, flesh, blood, blood - vessels, fat, marrow and bones and contains within it urine and faecal matter. The gross body is produced by one's own karma in past lives. It is the instrument for all worldly experiences which the jiva has to undergo. In the waking state the gross body experiences gross objects through the sense organs. A person's entire contact with the external world is through the gross body. The gross body is to the jiva what a house is to its owner. The gross body undergoes birth, old age and death. It is qualified by stoutness, leanness, and the like. The ideas of caste and station (varna and asrama) apply to it. It is afflicted by diseases. It is subjected to worship, honour, dishonour, etc.
After dealing with the gross body and stressing the need forgiving up attachment to it, the subtle body is taken up for examination. This will be dealt with in the next article.
The sense of hearing, the sense of touch, the sense of sight, the sense of taste and the sense of smell are known as jnanendriyas or organs of perception. It is through these organs that external objects are experienced. These organs are produced from the sattva part of space, air, fire, water and earth respectively. It must be noted that these are not the physical organs, such as ear, skin, etc, in the physical body. These physical organs are known as golaka. The indriyas are the subtle counterparts of these physical organs and form part of the subtle body. The presiding deities of these five indriyas are, respectively, the deities of the quarters, the deity of air, the sun, Varuna (the god of the waters) and the two Asvini devas. (See alsoPanchadasi.1.19).
It may be noted that each sense - organ is produced from the particular subtle element whose distinctive quality it has the power to reveal. For example, the organ of hearing which is produced from the sattva part of the subtle element, space, reveals sound, which is the distinctive quality of space. The organ of smell is produced from the sattva part of the subtle element earth whose distinctive quality, smell, it reveals. Sri Sankara says in his commentary on Br.up.2.4.11 - The sruti considers the organs to be of the same category as the objects, not of a different category. The organs are but modes of the objects they perceive.
The subtle counterparts of the vocal organ, hands, feet, anus and genitals are known as karmendriyas or the organs of action. These are produced from the rajas part of the five subtle elements. The presiding deities of these organs are, in order, the deity of Fire, Indra, Vishnu, Yama and Prajaapati.
From the sattva parts of all the five subtle elements together is produced the antahkaranam or internal organ which is known by four different names according to the different functions performed by it. The four names are - manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaara. (Sometimes only two names, manas and buddhi, are mentioned, as in Panchadasi.1.20, the other two being included in them). These four functions are explained in Vivekachudamani, verses 95 and 96 thus. When any situation arises, a person first considers various alternatives to explain or understand the situation. When the internal organ performs this function of cogitation it is known as the manas or mind. When ultimately a determination is made or a decision is taken, it is known as buddhi or intellect. The function of storing experiences in memory is called chittam. Behind all these three functions there is the notion of 'I' in the form 'I cogitate', 'I decide', and 'I remember'. This 'I - ness' or ego is named ahamkaara. Very often the word 'mind' is also used to denote the antahkaranam as a whole, when these distinctions are not relevant. We shall use the word 'mind' in this sense hereafter.
There is difference of opinion among Advaitins on the question whether the mind is an indriya, organ, or not. Vaachaspati Misra, the author of Bhaamati, considers the mind as an indriya. Prakaasaatma muni, the author of Vivarana, takes the view that the mind is not an indriya. The author of Vedanta paribhaashaa also takes the same view. This point assumes importance when the question as to how realization takes place through the mahaa vaakyas is considered.
From a combination of the rajas aspect of the five subtle elements, is produced praana, or vital air. This has five divisions, according to the function performed. These are described in the Bhashya on Prasna upanishad, 3.5, thus: - He (praana) places apaana, a division of himself, in the two lower apertures, as engaged in the work of ejecting the excreta. Praana himself, who occupies the position of the sovereign, resides in the eyes and the ears and issues out through the mouth and nostrils. In the navel is samaana, which is so called because it assimilates all that is eaten or drunk, distributes them equally in all parts of the body and effects digestion. Udaana, another division of praana, moves throughout the body and functions upwards. It leads the soul out of the body at the time of death and takes it to other worlds according to one's punyaand paapa. Vyaana regulates praana and apaana and is the cause of actions requiring strength. (See also Br.up.1.5.3.S.B).
Br.up.3.9.26.S.B. - The force called praana would go out (through the mouth and nostrils) if it were not held back by apaana. The force called apaana would also depart (through the lower orifice) if it were not held back by vyaana. All these three forces would go out in all directions, if they were not fixed to udaana. All these four forces rest on samaana.
Taitt.up. 2.2.S.B. Praana is that aspect which goes out through the mouth and nostrils.
Vedantasaara - Paras84 and 85 - According to Sankhya, there are five more vital forces known as naaga, koorma, krikala, devadatta and dhananjaya. Their functions are, respectively, causing vomiting, winking, creating hunger, producing yawning and nourishing the body.
The aggregate of these eight, namely,
(1) the five organs of action (karmendriyas),
(2) the five organs of perception (jnanendriyas),
(3) the five forms of praana or vital air,
(4) the five subtle elements beginning with space,
(5) the four divisions of the antahkaranam (manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkaara),
(7) desire, and
(8) the impressions of all actions,
is what is called the subtle body or sookshma sarira. This is also known as the linga sarira. The word 'linga' is derived from the root 'ligi'which means 'that which reminds'. The subtle body reminds us of the atma and so it is called linga sarira. The word 'sarira' is used in the sense of 'that which perishes'. The subtle body will cease to exist on the realization of the self and so it is also called a sarira though it does not have any shape or form like the gross body. The subtle body is made up of the five subtle elements as they exist before the process of quintuplicate described earlier. It has in it the impressions of past actions. It is the experiencer of the fruits of actions. It is the beginningless limiting adjunct (upadhi) of the atma. The dream state is the special state of the subtle body. In this state the gross body is not active, but the subtle body projects various objects and experiences based on the vasanas in it. In this state the atma itself illumines the objects projected, since the sense organs do not function then and there are no sources of light like the sun.
The intellect (buddhi) is the limiting adjunct of the atma. The atma is the mere witness of all the modifications of the intellect, but is not tainted by the modifications or their results. It is compared to the sun which enables all creatures to act by providing light, but is not in the least affected by their good or bad actions. The atma is therefore described as unattached. The subtle body is the cause of all activities. It is the instrument of the self, just like the tools for a carpenter. A carpenter cannot do his work without his tools. So too all activities are possible for the atma only when it is associated with the subtle body. In deep sleep the atma is not associated with the subtle body and so there is no action. However, even in the waking state the atma does not perform any action but is a mere witness; it is wrongly looked upon as a doer and an enjoyer because of identification with the subtle body, as a result of ignorance.
The qualities such as blindness, poor vision, clear vision, etc., belong only to the eye and not to the atma. Similarly, deafness, dumbness, etc., pertain only to the respective organs. Inhalation of breath, exhalation, yawning, sneezing, secretion, departure from the body on death, hunger and thirst are qualities or activities of the vital air (praana). It is the internal organ that experiences sound, etc., through the respective sense organs. Because of the reflection of the atma which is pure consciousness in the internal organ, the latter itself appears to be conscious, like the moon appearing as bright because of the reflection of the light of the sun on it.
Sri Sankara says in his Bhashya on Br.up.4.3.7 : - -
Justas an emerald or any other gem, dropped into a vessel of milk, imparts its luster to the milk, so does this luminous self, being subtler than even the mind and the intellect, impart consciousness to the whole body, mind and organs. (When an emerald is dropped into milk, the latter gets a green hue. Similarly, the self, being pure consciousness, makes the insentient mind, body and organs sentient.)
Why people identify themselves with the body, mind, etc.
Sri Sankara says in his Bhashya on Br.up.4.3.7: - -
The intellect, being transparent and next to the self, easily catches the reflection of the consciousness of the self. Therefore it is that even wise men identify themselves with the intellect first; next comes the mind which catches the reflection of the self through the intellect; then the organs through contact with the mind; and lastly, the body, through the organs. Thus the self successively illumines with its own consciousness the entire aggregate of body and organs. This is the reason why all people identify themselves with the body, mind and organs, to a greater or lesser degree, according to the extent of their discriminating capacity.
The ahamkaara or ego - sense is the internal organ (antah karana) with the reflection of consciousness init. It identifies itself with the body and sense organs and looks upon itself as a doer and an enjoyer. It assumes the states of waking, dream and dreamless sleep by association with the three gunas. The waking state is the result of association with rajo guna, the dream state with sattva guna, and dreamless sleep with tamo guna, according to the commentary of Sri Jagadguru Pujya Swami Chandrasekhara Bharati of Sringeri Peetham. Though all the three qualities are present in all the three states, the particular quality mentioned above predominates in each state.
When sense objects are favourable, the person is happy. If they are not, he is unhappy. Happiness and unhappiness are the qualities of the ego and not of the atma which is ever blissful.
All objects in the world are dear only for the sake of the atma; they are not dear in themselves. But the atma is dear to every one by itself. This sloka in Vivekachudamani (sloka 108) is based on Br. up. 2.4.5.
It is said in the Brihadaranyaka upanishad (2.4.5) that the husband is dear to the wife not for the sake of the husband, but for her own sake. The wife is dear to the husband not for the sake of the wife, but for his own sake. Everything is dear only for one's own sake. The idea is that the wife, son, wealth, etc, are dear to a person only because he derives happiness from them. The self (the person himself) is thus the real object of love and not others. When the wife, son and others dear to a person do not act in the way he wants them to, they cease to be dear to him. Even the greatest miser will not hesitate to spend his money when that becomes necessary to save his own life from disease or danger. Attachment to wife, son and others is given up by a person when they become obstacles to the fulfillment of his own wishes. Even attachment to wealth makes way when one's own life is at stake. Attachment to the body however continues because everyone looks upon the body as himself. In order to realize the truth that he is the self or Atma which is different from the body he has to give up attachment to the body also. Attachment is the cause of all sorrow. Thus it is taught here that one should first give up attachment to wife, son, wealth and the like which are known to be external to oneself. Ultimately attachment to the body, which is looked upon, due to ignorance, as identical with oneself should also be given up by one who seeks liberation.
The atma is ever blissful. It never suffers misery. In dreamless sleep there are no sense objects, but the bliss of atma is experienced then. This is testified by perception, tradition and inference. This matter has been dealt with elaborately in Chapter11 of Panchadasi. Please see the summary of this chapter given in this website under the head 'Panchadasi'.
The causal body is taken up next. This will form the subject - matter of the next article.
Maya is unmanifest (avyaktam). It cannot be known through the sense - organs because it has no quality like colour, etc. It is the power of the supreme Being. If such a power is not accepted, the creation of the universe cannot be explained, since Brahman by itself is devoid of any activity. It is beginningless nescience. It is constituted of the three gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas. It can only be inferred from its effects by the wise who follow the sruti. Maya is neither real nor unreal, nor both. An unreal thing is some thing that is never experienced, such as the horn of a hare. Since the universe, the effect of Maya, is actually experienced, its cause cannot be unreal like the horn of a hare. At the same time, it cannot be real because it is sublimed on the attainment of self - realization. It cannot be both real and unreal, because these contradictory qualities cannot exist in the same substance at the same time. It is therefore indescribable (anirvachaniya). It is neither different nor non - different from Brahman, nor both. It is neither composed of parts nor without parts, nor both. If it has parts then it must have an origin, but it is without a beginning. If it has no parts then it cannot become modified as the universe. It is most wonderful.
Maya will cease to exist for a particular individual when he realizes the pure non - dual Brahman, just as the illusory snake disappears when its substratum, rope, is known.
Maya is made up of the three gunas, sattva, rajas andtamas. There are three powers in Maya: the power of concealing the reality (avaranasakti), the power of projecting what is not real (vikshepasakti), and the power of jnana (jnanasakti). The first two are the causes of bondage; the third leads to liberation. The first is the result of the tamas part of Maya, the second is due to the rajas part and the third is due to the sattva part. Isvara's Maya is predominantly sattvic and it is under His control. So there is no bondage for Him. The jiva's Maya is constituted of all the three gunas in different proportions and so he suffers bondage. The rajo guna is the cause of attachment, aversion, etc., in the jiva. All qualities such as desire, doubt, fear, courage, resolve, faith, lack of faith, anger, avarice, pride, jealousy etc., (both good and bad qualities) relate only to the mind and not to the atma. They are superimposed on the atma because of lack of discrimination between the mind and the atma due to ignorance. These qualities of the mind are the cause of all the activities of the jiva.
The veiling power of Maya belongs to its tamasic aspect. It is only because the reality, Brahman, is concealed by it that the projecting power of Maya is able to function and project the world and make it appear real. Thus the veiling power of Maya is the root cause of the jiva's bondage and transmigration. Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati Swami says in his commentary that even in the case of a realized person the projecting power (vikshepasakti) continues to operate as a result of praarabdha karma. Therefore he also sees the world as ordinary persons do, but he is not affected by any happenings, good or bad, because his knowledge of Brahman is not veiled and so he looks upon everything as Brahman. An example may be given to illustrate this. A child looks at a lion made of stone and runs away screaming in fear. An adult also sees it as a lion, but is not frightened because he knows that it is only stone. So it is the veiling power of Maya that is the cause of all misery.
Even a person who is learned in the scriptures does not realize the nature of the self if he is overpowered by tamo guna. He considers the world, which is only a superimposition on the self due to beginningless nescience, as real. This delusion leads to sorrow. The power of Maya to delude has been described by Sri Sankara thus in his Bhashya on Kathopanishad, 1.3.12: - "Alas, how unfathomable, inscrutable and variegated is this power of Maya, that every human being, though in reality identical with the supreme Brahman, and is told this again and again by the upanishads, does not realize that truth, but considers himself as the body, mind and senses, even though he is not told so by any one".
The veiling power of Maya produces four obstacles to knowledge in the mind of man. These are, (1) the notion that the identity of jiva and Brahman and the illusoriness of the world propounded in the upanishads cannot be correct (known as abhaavanaa), (2) the idea that the body itself is the self (viparitabhaavanaa), (3) notions contrary to the teachings (vipratipattih), and (4) doubt (asambhavana). The vikshepa sakti of Maya which projects the world as a reality keeps the man in bondage.
Ignorance, laziness, lack of discrimination, torpor, indifference, delusion, and similar negative qualities are the result of tamo guna. A person subject to these does not make any effort to uplift himself.
Sattva guna is very pure. But because of admixture with rajas and tamas transmigration results. When a person is predominantly sattvic, with only a tinge of rajas and no tamas, he is free from pride, and practices the disciplines such as yama and niyama. Such a person has faith, devotion, yearning for liberation, and divine qualities. He withdraws from the pursuit of worldly pleasures. 'Yama' has five components: non - injury, truthfulness, not coveting other's possessions, continence, and non - acceptance of gifts. 'Niyama' also has five components: purity of body and mind, contentment, austerity, study of the scriptures, and dedication of all actions to God.
When sattvaguna is uncontaminated by rajas and tamas the results are alertness of mind, experience of the self, supreme calmness, contentment, bliss, and remaining established in the supreme bliss because of which there is everlasting bliss.
The causal body made up of the three gunas is unmanifest. Dreamless sleep is its distinctive state. In this state the organs and the mind do not function. The mind remains in seed form in this state. The absence of knowledge of any kind in this state is evident from the fact that a person who wakes up from sleep says that he did not know anything.
The physical body, the sense organs, the vital air, the mind, the ego - sense, all functions of these, all the sense - objects, pleasure, pain, etc., the five elements, the entire universe up to the un - manifested (Prakriti) - all these constitute the not - self. All this is mithya, what cannot be described as either real or unreal. These are all the effects of Maya. On the realization of Brahman these will be found to have no reality.
In Panchadasi, 6.130 Swami Vidyaranyasays: - - From the standpoint of the ordinary worldly man, Maya is real. From the standpoint of the man of realization, Maya has no existence at all. For those who try to understand it through reasoning, Maya cannot be determined as either real or unreal; it is anirvachaniya.
Sri Sankara says in Maayaa panchakam that Maya has the capacity to make the impossible happen. It imposes on Brahman, which is eternal and devoid of parts and which is pure Consciousness, the false distinctions as the world, individual souls and God. It makes even those who have mastered all the scriptures no different from animals by tempting them with wealth and the like. It makes Brahman which is infinite bliss, pure Consciousness and non - dual, struggle in the ocean of samsaara by associating it with the body made up of the five elements. It imposes on Brahman which is devoid of qualities the distinctions of colour, caste, etc, and attachment to wife, son, possessions and the like. It creates even in non - dual Brahman distinctions such as Brahmaa, Vishnu and Siva and deludes even the learned into thinking that they are different from one another.
The question 'What is the supreme Self' will be taken up in the next article.
Supreme Self [Paramatma]
By realizing one's real nature as identical with the supreme Brahman one becomes free from the bond of samsara and attains liberation. All the effects of Maya, from Mahat to one's own body, are mithya, like a mirage. The Self is self - existent (It has no cause). It is the substratum of the ego - consciousness. It is the witness of all the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep and is different from the five sheaths (which will be described later on). It illumines the experiences in the states of waking and dream and also the absence of all experiences in deep sleep. It perceives all the activities of the sense organs, but the sense organs cannot know it. It illumines the intellect, but the intellect cannot know it. It pervades the whole universe, but no object in the universe can pervade it. Everything else in this universe is insentient and attains sentiency only because of it. Because of its mere presence, the body, senses, mind and intellect perform their respective functions, as if prompted by it. This means that the Self does not itself do anything, nor does it cause the body, etc., to act. It merely provides the sentiency for them to act by its mere presence. The Self is therefore compared to the sun which provides the light for every one to act, but is not the cause of their actions. Being of the nature of eternal consciousness, everything from theego - sense to the body, as well as all objects, all emotions such as pleasure, pain etc., are known by it. They are all objects of knowledge and the Self alone is the subject. The Self is innermost, eternal, without a beginning, of the nature of infinite bliss, is always of the same nature, and is behind every cognition. It shines in the cave of the intellect.
The Self has no birth or death; it does not increase or decrease or undergo any change; it is eternal. It is not destroyed even when the body is destroyed, just as the space inside a pot is not destroyed when the pot is destroyed. it is different from Prakriti as well as its modifications. It is pure consciousness. It illumines everything, those with form and those without form. It is devoid of all attributes. It shines in all the states of waking, dream and deep sleep as the witness of the intellect and as the basis of the ego. One should realize this self as identical with oneself by controlling the mind and making it pure. Thus one can cross this ocean of samsaara with its waves of birth and death.
The answer to the question, "What is bondage" is taken up next.
What is Bondage?
The firm belief that one is the body, senses, etc., (the not - self) is bondage. It is due to nescience, i.e. ignorance of one's real nature. It is the cause of repeated births and deaths and all sorrows. Because of it a person looks upon the unreal body as real and identifies himself with it. He nourishes the body and protects it by indulging in sense pleasures. Just as a silkworm builds a cocoon of silk threads around itself and becomes imprisoned in it, man becomes bound to his body.
(Note. When a person says 'I am stout', 'I am lean', etc, he is really referring to his body as identical with himself. When he says 'I see', 'I hear', 'I taste' and so on, he is identifying himself with his organs of seeing, hearing and tasting. When he says 'I am intelligent' or 'I am dull' he identifies himself with his intellect. All these identifications are totally wrong. The Self is ever pure, untouched by the joys or sorrows of the body and mind).
The not - self is mistaken for the self by everyone because of lack of discrimination between the two, resulting from ignorance. In sloka 140this is compared to a person mistaking a snake for a rope and taking it in his hand. The usual example of a rope being mistaken for a snake is reversed here to show how disastrous such a mistake is. A man who mistakes a snake for a rope and takes it in his hand is almost certain to be bitten by the snake and lose his life. Mistaking the body, mind, etc., for the self is pointed out to be equally dangerous because one cannot progress spiritually as long as one does not get rid of this wrong notion. Taking the not - self to be the self, i.e. identifying oneself with the body - mind complex is bondage. The concealing power of avidya conceals the atman, like Rahu concealing the sun. Because of this, people are deluded and consider themselves to be nothing other than the body, etc. This gives rise to desire, which is the cause of all misery. The man who is in the grip of the crocodile of delusion is not able to realize the real nature of the self. He drifts in the ocean of samsaara.
An example is given here. Clouds arise when the heat of the sun makes the water of the ocean evaporate. Thus the sun is the ultimate source of the clouds. The clouds conceal the very same sun from our view. At the same time, we are able to see the clouds only because of the sun behind them. Similarly, Brahman is the source of the world, and the very same world conceals Brahman from us. We are able to experience the world through our sense organs only because of the light of consciousness which is itself Brahman. Just as a wayfarer suffers when the sky is overcast and it is very cold, the man whose self is hidden from him suffers misery.
The tree of samsaara is now described. Avidya is the seed of this tree. The shoot is the wrong notion that the body is the self. Desire is the tender sprout. Karma is the water. The body is the trunk. The praanas are the wind. The contacts of the senses with the objects are the tendrils. The sense - objects are the flowers. Suffering is the fruit arising from different karmas. The experiencer is the bird on the tree which eats the fruit.
The cause of bondage is ignorance of one's real nature. This ignorance is natural to every one and is without beginning. It continues until it is destroyed by self - knowledge. It is the cause of all suffering in the form of birth, disease, old age, death, etc. This ignorance cannot be destroyed by any missiles, nor by the wind, nor by fire, nor even by the performance of innumerable rituals laid down in the scriptures. It can be destroyed only by the sharp and beautiful sword of discrimination which arises by the grace of the supreme Being.
But it should not be thought that the rituals laid down in the scriptures are futile. The performance of these rituals with full faith is essential for attaining purity of mind which is the prerequisite for the dawn of knowledge.
Discriminating Self from Non-self
The self is not clearly known because it is covered by five sheaths, which are superimposed on it, like the water in a pond covered by a layer of moss. When the moss is removed, the pure water becomes clearly visible and accessible. It can quench one's thirst and make him happy. Similarly, when the five sheaths are negated the indwelling self which is pure, eternal bliss, homogeneous, supreme, and self - effulgent shines unobstructed. Therefore one should discriminate between the self and the not - self and negate the not - self for attaining liberation from bondage. Realizing the self which is Existence - Consciousness - Bliss one becomes blissful.
The five sheaths are described one by one in the subsequent sections.
The three bodies of the jiva were previously named the physical or gross body, the subtle body and the causal body. Now the same three bodies are being described as five sheaths covering the atma or self within. The gross body is the first or outermost sheath. It is named annamaya kosha or the sheath of food. The subtle body is made up of three sheaths, praanamaya kosha or the sheath of vital air, manomay kosha or the sheath of the mind, and vijnaanamaya kosha or the sheath of the intellect. These sheaths have to be negated one by one in order to realize the self.
Sheath of Food
This is the physical body, known also as the gross body. It is born of food, sustained by food, and dies if there is no food. It is made up of skin, flesh, blood, and excreta. It is impure. It is always undergoing change. It has a birth and a death. It is an object of knowledge like a pot. So it cannot be the atma which, according to the upanishads, is pure, unborn, eternal, changeless, and the knower of all changes and all objects.
The body has limbs such as hands, feet, etc. One is able to live even if any of these limbs is damaged and cannot function. So the body cannot be the self which is devoid of parts and is homogeneous. It is by the light of consciousness, which is the very nature of the self, that all the limbs, the sense organs and the mind are able to function. The Kathopanishad says that it is not by the vital airs such as praana, apaana, etc., that creatures live, but by the atma which enlivens them. The vital airs themselves are insentient, like the physical body.
Because of ignorance the human being identifies himself with his body. When a person says 'I am tall, or short, or stout, or lean, etc.' he looks upon his body as himself. Such a person is not even aware that he has a subtle body which is different from the gross body and which does not die when the physical body dies, but goes to other worlds and is again born on this earth in a new body. The person who has acquired intellectual knowledge about the nature of the self from the scriptures knows that there is a subtle body which goes to other worlds and is again born on this earth in a new physical body. In normal worldly transactions he identifies himself with his physical body. But when he performs vedic rituals such as yajnas for attaining heaven, he does not identify himself with his physical body, because he knows that the physical body cannot go to heaven and that itis only the subtle body that goes to heaven after death. So he then looks upon the subtle body as himself. The man of realization, however, knows that he is not either of these bodies, but is the atma which is identical with Brahman which is devoid of all the three limitations of time, place and other objects. (See Panchadasi of SwamiVidyaranya - - 3.35, 36, 37 - Being all - pervasive, Brahman is not limited by space. Being eternal, it is not limited by time. Since all objects in the universe are merely superimposed on Brahman, Brahman is not limited by any object, just as a rope is not limited by the illusory snake superimposed on it).
Therefore the aspirant is exhorted to give up identification with the body - mind complex and fix his mind on Brahman. As long as the scholar does not give up his identification with his body, mind, etc., there can be no question of his release from transmigratory existence even if he is most proficient in Vedanta. Mere intellectual knowledge that he is not the body, etc., but the atma is not sufficient; it has to become an actual experience. Just as one does not identify oneself with one's shadow or the reflection of the body in a mirror, etc., or with his own body seen in a dream, one should not identify oneself with his living body. Identification with the body is the root cause of all sorrows and of repeated births and deaths.
The sheath of vital air will be taken up in the next article.
Sheath of Vital Air
This sheath, known as the praanamaya - kosha, is made up of the vital air (with its five subdivisions) and the five organs of action. It permeates the sheath of food and enables it to perform all its functions. But, as already stated in the previous article, this sheath is also insentient and is enlivened only by the self. The vital air is nothing but a form of wind. So it cannot be the self.
Sheath of Mind
This sheath, known as manomaya - kosha, consists of the mind and the five organs of knowledge. It permeates the sheaths of vital air and food. It is the cause of the sense of 'I' and 'mine'. This sheath is very powerful because bondage and liberation depend on the mind. Attachment of the mind to sense objects is the cause of bondage and detachment towards them is the means to liberation. The five organs of perception bring offerings to the mind in the form of experience of sense objects. The sheath of the mind is described as the sacrificial fire, the five organs of perception as the sacrificial priests, and the sense objects are the oblations which are being continuously poured into the sacrificial fire. The vasanas in the mind are the dry fuel for the fire. If there is no fuel, there can be no lasting flame in the sacrificial altar even though the oblation, clarified butter, is continuously poured into it. Similarly if there are no vasanas, the mere presence of sense objects will not be able to produce bondage. It is the vasanas that obstruct one's spiritual progress. So it has been said that the elimination of vasanas is liberation. When the mind is functioning, as in the waking state, there is bondage in the form of identification with the body and the sense of possession, which are the cause of sorrow. When the mind is not functioning, as in deep sleep, there is no identification with the body and so there is no experience of sorrow.
In dream there are no objects, but various objects and experiences are created by the mind. Similarly the objects in the waking state are also not real. They are only an expansion of the mind.
(Note: In this context Mandukya Karika, ch.2, verses 6 and 7 are relevant. Verse 6 says that what does not exist in the beginning and at the end is unreal. By this test things experienced in the waking state as well as those in dream are equally unreal. Verse 7 points out that the objects of the waking state are contradicted in the dream state. For example, a man goes to bed after a full meal, but soon dreams that he is extremely hungry. A man who dreams that he has eaten a hearty meal, wakes up feeling very hungry. Because of these reasons, things experienced in both the states are equally unreal. But though they are both unreal, it is admitted that there is a difference between the two. In his Bhashya on Brahma sutra 2.2.29 Sri Sankara points out that there is a difference between the dream state and the waking state. The difference consists in the perceptions in dream being sublated immediately afterwards and the other not. To a man who has woken up from sleep the objects perceived in dream never had any existence at all, for he says "I falsely imagined that I was in the company of great men. In fact, I never came in contact with great men; this delusion arose because my mind was overpowered by sleep". But an object seen in the waking state, such as a pillar, is not thus sublated under any condition. Moreover, dream vision is a kind of remembrance, whereas the visions of the waking state are forms of perception. The difference between remembrance and perception, consisting in the absence and presence of objects, is well known).
In the state of dreamless sleep nothing is experienced because the mind is dormant. This further establishes that the mind is the creator of objects in dream and waking. Clouds are brought together by the wind and they are also dispersed by the wind. Similarly both bondage and liberation are brought about by the mind. The mind creates attachment for all objects including one's own body and binds a man. Later the same mind creates aversion for objects by reminding him of their harmful nature and leads the person to liberation. The mind is the cause of bondage when it has a preponderance of rajo guna. When the mind becomes free from rajas and tamas it leads to liberation. The mind becomes capable of leading to liberation if firm discrimination and strong dispassion are cultivated. So one who seeks liberation should cultivate these qualities. The mind is like a ferocious tiger which roams about n the forest of sense - objects. The wise person should restrain the mind from roaming about in this forest. It is the mind that produces the experiences of sense - objects and creates all kinds of distinction such as body, varna, ashrama, causes and effects.
The jiva is in reality the pure consciousness which is free from all attachment, but the mind makes him forget his real nature and identify himself with the body, mind, senses and vital airs. As a result he looks upon himself as an agent and an enjoyer with the notions of 'I' and 'mine'. Avidya by itself cannot cause bondage without the association of the mind. Attachment to the body, etc., is not there in deep sleep even though avidya is present, because the mind does not function then. As the mind is the cause of samsaara, the enlightened persons have declared that the mind itself is avidya. It is by the mind that all jivas are tossed about like clouds by the wind. Therefore one who seeks liberation should purify his mind by ridding it of desire, greed, anger, and all other such emotions. When the mind is pure liberation becomes as clear as a fruit in the palm of the hand. After getting rid of all attachments the seeker should resort to sravana, manana, and nididhyaasana (hearing of the scriptures, reflection and meditation) with faith. This will cleanse the mind of rajo guna.
The sheath of the mind cannot be the self because it has a beginning and an end, is always undergoing changes, is of the nature of sorrow, and is an object of knowledge. The self is always the subject and never an object.
Sheath of Intellect
The intellect (buddhi) along with the five organs of sense, the modifications of the mind (vrittis), and the notion of agency is known as the sheath of the intellect (vijnaanamaya kosha). Because of the reflection of pure consciousness in it this sheath appears to have consciousness. Like the earlier sheaths, this sheath is also a modification of prakriti, since it is a product of the five subtle elements. It is characterized by knowledge and action. It is the cause of the identification of the jiva with his body and organs. It is beginningless because creation is beginningless. It performs various actions, good and bad, prompted by its vaasanas. The states of waking and dream and the experiences of joy, sorrow, etc., belong to it. (In these statements this sheath is identified with the subtle body of which it forms a part.) Because of the identification of the Atma with this sheath, the qualities of the latter are wrongly attributed to the Atma, just as fire is said to be long or round according to the shape of the iron rod or ball which has been made red - hot.
It has been said above that the sheath of the intellect, which is the limiting adjunct of the Atma, is beginningless. The question arises, whether it is also endless, in which case, no liberation would be possible. The answer is that this limitation and the consequent identification with the sheath are only due to delusion caused by ignorance. The Atma is unattached, actionless and formless. It can have no connection with the objects of the world, just as blueness has really no connection with the sky. Jivahood continues only as long as there is delusion born of ignorance. When the delusion ceases on the destruction of ignorance by knowledge, the jivahood ceases and there is only Atma or Brahman.
Though avidya is beginningless, it has an end. When right knowledge arises, avidya ceases to exist. The knowledge that the jivatma is none other than the Paramatma (Brahman) is what is called right knowledge.
Justas water is not clear when it is associated with mud, but becomes clear when the mud is removed, the Atma is realized in its pure state when the taint of identification with the body - mind complex is removed.
The sheath of the intellect cannot be the Atma because it is subject to change, is insentient, is limited, is an object of perception and is not constant, being dormant in deep sleep.
Sheath of Bliss
The sheath of bliss (anandamaya kosha) is the modification of avidya in the form of the happiness which is experienced in the waking and dream states. In these two states the happiness arises on the attainment of some desired object. This sheath is fully manifested in the state of deep sleep. But even this sheath is not the Atma because it is also a modification of avidya.
When all the five sheaths are thus eliminated one by one, what remains is pure consciousness, which is the Atma.
The Atma which is self - effulgent, distinct from the five sheaths, the unchanging witness of the states of waking, dream and deep sleep, which is always of the nature of bliss, and is not tainted by the defects of the sheaths, is to be realized as one's self.
The disciple now raises a doubt - - when all the five sheaths are eliminated there appears to be only void. So what is there to be realized as the self?
The guru answers that there is an entity that is the witness of the presence as well as the absence of these sheaths and their modifications. This witness is the self.
The self or Atma shines in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep. It is behind the awareness as 'I'. It is the witness of the ego - sense and of the functioning of all the organs. It is self - effulgent, eternal and bliss itself.
A person of dull intellect thinks that the reflection of the sun in a pot of water is the sun itself. Similarly, human beings, being deluded by avidya (nescience), think that the reflection of pure consciousness in the mind is the Atma. A wise man knows that the sun in the sky is different from the pot, the water in the pot and the reflection, and that the sun illumines all the three of them. Similarly the Atma is different from the mind and the reflection of consciousness in it and it illumines them. The Atma has therefore to be realized as different from the body, mind and organs, as self - luminous, eternal, infinite, extremely subtle, and identical with Brahman. On this realization the person becomes liberated from transmigratory existence. The realization of one's real nature as Brahman is the only means to liberation.
Unreal (Mithya) Nature of the Universe
Brahman is absolute existence and pure consciousness. It is infinite, pure, supreme, self - luminous, of the nature of eternal bliss, non - different from the indwelling self, and without parts.
It is the only reality. The universe which is superimposed on it is not different from it, just as the illusory snake is not different from the rope on which it appears. A pot made of clay is not different from the clay. There is no separate entity as pot apart from clay. The pot is only a name given to clay in a particular shape. When the same clay is given another shape it is given the name 'plate'. So what really exists is only clay, and names such as pot are imaginary. The Chandogya Upanishad, 6.1.4says, "All modification (of clay) is nothing but name based on words; the clay alone is real". Similarly everything that is the effect of Brahman is nothing but Brahman. The appearance of the universe as an entity separate from Brahman is due only to delusion caused by nescience. The Mundaka upanishad declares that this universe is nothing but the supreme Brahman. If the universe were real, the statement in the srutis that Brahman is infinite would become invalid, the Vedas would lose their authority and Isvara's words would become untrue. Such a result is not acceptable. If the world is real it should appear in dreamless sleep also. As it is not at all perceived in dreamless sleep, it is unreal like objects seen in dream. Therefore it is clear that the universe does not exist apart from Brahman.
Therefore the supreme Brahman is the only reality. It is pure consciousness, without beginning or end, and devoid of any activity. It is pure eternal bliss. It is free from all differences brought about by Maya. It is eternal, unchanging, pure, beyond the faculty of reasoning, formless, subtle, and self - effulgent. It is beyond the trichotomy of knower, knowledge and known. It is beyond mind and speech.
The explanation of the maha vakya "That thou art" will be taken up in the next article.
Maha Vakya "That thou art"
In the sentence 'tat tvam asi' the primary meaning of the word 'tat' is Brahman as qualified by the functions of creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe, that is, Isvara. The primary meaning of the word 'tvam' is the jiva as qualified by the states of waking, dream and deep sleep. The qualities of Isvara and jiva are totally contradictory, like those of the sun and the glow - worm, or the king and a servant, or the ocean and a well, or the earth and an atom. Isvara is omniscient and omnipotent while the jiva's knowledge and power are limited. The identity affirmed by the maha vakya cannot obviously be between Isvara and jiva which are the primary meanings of the words. Therefore the implied meanings of the two words have to be taken. The contradiction between the primary meanings of the two words is due to the limiting adjuncts which are not real. Maya is the limiting adjunct (upadhi) of Isvara, while the upadhi of the jiva is the five sheaths. When these limiting adjuncts are negated, there is neither Isvara nor jiva. The kingdom is the symbol of the king and the shield is the symbol of the warrior. When these are removed there is neither king nor warrior. The sruti negates the duality imagined in Brahman. The negation of the limiting adjuncts is to be effected by reasoning supported by sruti. Everything in the universe is a superimposition on Brahman by ignorance and has no reality, like the snake superimposed on a rope. The entire universe must therefore be rejected as unreal. Then what remains is only Brahman . Thus both Isvara and jiva are found to be only Brahman when the unreal upadhis are rejected.
Thus only the implied meanings of the terms 'tat' and 'tvam are to be taken for affirming their identity. The implied meanings of words are of three kinds - jahal lakshanaa, ajahal - lakshanaa and jahad ajahal lakshanaa.
jahal lakshanaa - (exclusive secondary signification) - The literal meaning is to be rejected and some other meaning consistent with it is to be adopted. An example is - gangaayaam ghoshah, the literal meaning of which is - a hamlet on the river Ganga. Since there cannot be a hamlet on the river itself, it is the bank of the river that is meant. Here the literal meaning of the word 'Ganga' has to be given up completely and the implied meaning 'bank' has to be adopted.
ajahal lakshanaa - (non - exclusive secondary signification) - Without giving up the literal meaning of the word, what is implied by it is also adopted to get the meaning intended to be conveyed. An example is - "The red is running", which is intended to convey that the red horse is running. Here the literal meaning of the word 'red' is retained and the implied word 'horse' is added to get the correct sense of the sentence.
jahad ajahal lakshanaa - (exclusive - non - exclusive secondary signification) - Here a part of the literal meaning is retained and the other part discarded. The sentence "This is that Devadatta" is interpreted by using this lakshanaa. The meaning intended to be conveyed by this sentence is that Devadatta who is seen at the present time in this place is the same as the person who was seen earlier in another place. The literal meaning of the word 'this' is Devadatta associated with the present time and place. The literal meaning of the word 'that' is Devadatta associated with the past time and some other place. Since this sentence purports to convey the identity of the person seen in different places at different times, we get this meaning by discarding the reference to the place and time conveyed by the words 'this' and 'that' and retaining the reference to Devadatta. This is also known as bhaagatyaaga - lakshanaa. The meaning of the sentence tat tvam asi is obtained by using this method. Just as in the sentence "This is that Devadatta" the identity is stated by rejecting the contradictory qualities, so also in the sentence "That thou art" the contradictory qualities (namely, the limiting adjuncts) are rejected. Thus it follows that the jiva and Brahman are in essence one when the limiting adjuncts, namely Maya and the five sheaths, are rejected.
Meditation on Brahman
The identity of the jiva and Brahman has been affirmed by the maha vakya 'That thou art'. Now Brahman is being described negatively, in order that the disciple may give up his identification with the gross body. Brahman is not gross, not short, not long, and has no attributes whatsoever. It is infinite pure consciousness. It can be realized only by a mind which has been disciplined by reflection and meditation. Justas any object made of clay is nothing but clay, the entire universe, which is an effect of Brahman, is nothing but Brahman. There is nothing other than Brahman. The guru tells the disciple, "You are that supreme Brahman, ever full of peace, free from blemish, and without a second". The place, time, objects, and their knower, appearing in a dream are all 'mithya'. They have no reality. Similarly, the world experienced in the waking state is nothing but a projection of one's own nescience. Consequently, the body, senses, ego, are all unreal.
The disciple is now asked to meditate that he is Brahman which is devoid of distinctions such as caste, lineage, etc., is free from the limitations of name and form, and is beyond space, time and objects of sense. He should meditate that, being himself none other than Brahman, he is not affected by the six waves - hunger, thirst, grief, delusion, old age and death. Brahman cannot be apprehended by the senses. It cannot be known by the intellect. Brahman is the substratum of the universe which is superimposed on it by ignorance. Since it is not a substance, it cannot be described either as existent or as non - existent. It is existence itself. Everything in this world appears to exist only because they are all superimposed on Brahman which is existence, just as the illusory snake appears to exist only because the substratum, rope, exists. It is indivisible. Brahman does not have birth, growth, change, decay, disease and death. All these are only for the body - mind complex, but they are wrongly attributed to the Atma which is the same as Brahman. Brahman is the cause of the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe.
Brahman is free from the three kinds of difference. The difference of a tree from its leaves, flowers, fruits, etc, is the difference within an object. This is known as svagata bheda. The difference of one tree from another tree is the difference between objects of the same species. This is known as sajaatiiya bheda. The difference of a tree from a rock is the difference between objects of different species. This is known as vijaatiiya bheda. None of these differences exists with regard to Brahman, because there is nothing else of the same species or of a different species and there is no internal difference because Brahman is homogeneous. This is what is affirmed in the Chhaandogya upanishad (6.2.1) by the words "ekam evaadvitiyam" - one, only, without a second. The word "one' negates sajaatiiya bheda, the word 'only' negates svagata bheda and the words 'without a second' negate vijaatiiya bheda.
Brahman is motionless like a wave less ocean. It is of the nature of existence, consciousness and bliss. It is ever free from bondage. It is the cause of multiplicity as the substratum, but is itself causeless. It is however only from the empirical standpoint that it is said to be the cause of multiplicity. From the absolute standpoint the multiplicity does not exist and so Brahman cannot be described as a cause. It is neither cause nor effect. The aspirant should meditate on Brahman thus.
Brahman should be meditated on as devoid of internal variety, infinite, imperishable, different from the world as well as from Maya, supreme, eternal, of un - diminishing bliss, and not tainted by avidya. Brahman appears as name, form, quality, and action because of delusion, but is really free from change, just as gold, though appearing in the form of various ornaments, is itself always the same. Thus the name, form, etc., are unreal and they are all nothing but Brahman .
There is nothing before or after Brahman, because Brahman is infinite. It is devoid of activity. It is higher than the highest. It is the indwelling self of the jiva. It is un - decaying.
If one meditates on Brahman in this manner with conviction, he will attain to the truth.
In this way, one should merge the whole universe in Brahman and realize himself as pure consciousness.
In the cave of the intellect dwells the supreme non - dual Brahman which is the ultimate reality and is different from all gross and subtle substances. One who identifies himself with this Brahman will not have any further birth.
Remaining Established as Brahman
Even after a person has acquired from the scriptures and by reasoning the knowledge that he is distinct from the five sheaths and is identical with Brahman, the beginningless vaasanaas which make him look upon himself as an agent and enjoyer, which are the cause of transmigration, remain strong. These have to be removed with effort by turning the senses away from external objects and fixing the mind on Brahman. The sages say that liberation is the elimination of vaasanaas. The wise man should get rid of the notions of 'I' and 'mine' with regard to the not - self in the form of the body and senses by being firmly established in the self. Realizing your innermost self, the witness of the intellect and its modifications, by means of the modification of the intellect in the form 'I am Brahman' give up the notion of 'I - ness' in the not - self. Give up concerns about conforming to the ways of the world and concerns about your own body; give up reading books other than those useful for the attainment of liberation. By these means get rid of identification with the body, etc.
(In sloka 271 the Acharya says that 'lokaanuvartanam', 'dehaanuvartanam' and saastraanuvartanam' should be given up. These three are referred to aslokavaasanaa, dehavaasanaa and saastravaasanaa by Svami Vidyaranya in Jivanmuktiviveka. What he says there is reproduced below: - -
Impure vaasana is of three kinds: desire for (unblemished reputation in) the world (loka vaasana), obsession with learning (sasstra vaasana) and undue attachment to the body (deha vaasana). The first one takes the form 'I want to be always praised by everyone'. This is called impure because it is something impossible of achievement. No one, however good, can always escape slander. Even absolutely blemishless Sita was slandered. People speak ill of others merely because of local peculiarities. The southern Brahman as censor the northerners, well - versed in the Vedas, as meat - eaters. The northern Brahmanas retaliate by ridiculing the southern custom of marrying the daughter of a maternal uncle and for carrying earthenware during travel. A pure man is looked upon as a devil, a clever man as presumptuous, a man of forbearance as weak, a strong man as cruel, an absent - minded man as a thief, and a handsome man as lewd. Thus nobody can please everyone. So the scriptures advise us to treat censure and praise alike.
The obsession with learning (sastra vasana) is of three kinds: addiction to study, addiction to many scriptural texts and obsession with the mechanical observance of injunctions with regard to the performance of rituals. The first only is exemplified by sage Bharadvaja, who was not satisfied with having devoted three successive lives to the study of the Vedas and continued the same in his fourth life also. This is also an impure vasana because it is not possible of achievement. Indra cured him of this by explaining to him the impossibility of his undertaking and initiated him into the knowledge of the conditioned Brahman for the attainment of a higher end.
Addiction to many scriptural texts is also an impure vasana because it is not the highest aim. The example for this is Durvaasaa. Once he went with a cart - load of scriptural works to Lord Mahadeva. Narada ridiculed him by comparing him to a donkey carrying a huge load. Durvaasaa became angry and threw away the books into the ocean. Lord Mahadeva then imparted to him the knowledge of the Self which does not come from study alone.
Obsession with injunctions relating to the performance of rites is exemplified by Nidaagha, as described in Vishnu purana. Another example of this is Daasura who, because of the intensity of his desire to adhere to the injunctions, could not find any place in the whole world pure enough for the performance of rites. This mad desire for performing karma is also an impure vaasanaa because it results in the person continuing in the cycle of repeated birth and death. Saastra vaasanaa is also impure for another reason, namely, that it is the cause of vanity.
Deha vaasanaa is of three kinds - - looking upon the body as the Self, concern about making the body attractive and desire to remove defects in the body. The first two are clearly impure vaasanaas because they are obstacles to spiritual progress. The third is impossible of achievement because the body is essentially impure and so it is also an impure vaasanaa).
As long as these three vaasanaas are there, knowledge of the Self cannot arise. They are like iron fetters binding the legs.
If a sandal - stick remains in water for a long time, its natural fragrance remains hidden. But if it is rubbed and the external odour is removed, then its natural fragrance emerges in full measure. Similarly, the fragrance of the Self which remains hidden because of the dirt in the form of the vaasanaas, emerges when the vaasanaas are removed by 'rubbing' with wisdom. The aatma vaasanaa which has remained obscured by the anaatma vaasanaas (loka vaasanaa, saastra vaasanaa and deha vaasanaa) shines forth when the anaatma vaasanaas are destroyed by concentrating the mind on the aatman.
Note. Gita, 5.15 says that knowledge is covered by ignorance and so all creatures are deluded. The jiva is identical with Brahman and so knowledge is his very nature. But this is obscured by ignorance. Kathopanishad, 2.1.1 says that the creator has made the senses go only outward and so they cannot know the indwelling self. But a rare human being withdraws his senses from external objects and concentrates his mind on the self and realizes that he is Brahman).
The more the mind is concentrated on the self, the more the vaasanaas relating to the not - self are destroyed. When all the vaasanaas are destroyed the realization that one is the pure Brahman is perfect. When it is always established in the self, the mind is stilled. This means that the mind gives up likes and dislikes and remains calm whatever happens. Vaasanaas are the propensity of the mind to react to situations by the rise of anger and other similar emotions without any consideration of the consequences. When the mind becomes calm it means that the raajasic and taamasic vaasanaas have been eliminated. In this way the superimposition of the not - self on the self should be removed.
The taamasic qualities such as drowsiness and laziness are destroyed by raajasic qualities such as activity. The raajasic qualities are eliminated by the cultivation of sattva guna by concentration of the mind. Ultimately one should go beyond sattva guna also by concentrating the mind on nirguna Brahman. Convinced that the praarabdha karma will protect the body, with a mind which is not affected even when some cause for worry arises, one should strive with courage for the removal of super - imposition.
One should get rid of superimposition by distinguishing between the self and the body - mind complex and by the knowledge of the sruti statements such as 'tat tvam asi' which declare the oneness of Brahman and the Atman. This process should be continued till the awareness of the jiva and the universe becomes as false as a dream to one who has woken up from sleep. The Atman should be constantly meditated on. As the space in a pot is dissolved in the universal space, the individual self should be dissolved in Brahman. Like an actor discarding his role after the play is over, one should dissociate oneself from the gross and subtle bodies and remain as the pure Self. That which is signified by the word 'I' is the witness of the ego, etc. It is found to exist even in deep sleep. The sruti says that it is unborn and eternal. Identification with one's family, clan, name, and station in life, all of which relate to the gross body should be given up. Similarly the qualities of the subtle body such as agency should also be given up. The ego is the root cause of samsaara and is the first to be superimposed on the self.