Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sloka 11 and Sloka 12


nashhTe puurvavikalpe tu yaavadanyasya nodayaH
nirvikalpakachaitanya.n spashhTa.n taavadvibhaasate .. 11..

Purva vikalpe: One preceding modification
Nashte: having subsided
Tu: but
Yaavat: while
Udayaha: the appearance
Anyasya: of another (modification)
Na: is not (there)
Nirvikalpachaitanya: the unmodified pure consciousness
Spashtam: clearly
Vibhasate: shines forth
Taavat: during that interval

The pure undifferentiated consciousness shines forth clearly by itself in the interval of two modifications of the intellect, when the preceding one has died down and another is yet to appear.

Here Acharya explains that just as the thread is seen in between the pearls, the consciousness can be clearly perceived in between two modifications, that is when there are no modifications, when one has subsided and the succeeding one has not yet made its appearance, in this interval, the pure unmodified consciousness shines by itself. Just as the thread covered by pearl, the pure consciousness is covered by the modifications of the mind. The ever present self illuming consciousness cannot be clearly perceived when there are thoughts and modifications.

Its only when there are no pearls that the thread that lies beneath them can be clearly seen, similarly, it is only when there are no modifications that the consciousness that illumines all can be clearly revealed. The blissful nature of Self can be known only when there are no modifications of the intellect. It is a common experience that peace pervades only when there is calmness in mind, i.e. only when there are no modifications that one’s true nature will be known and the bliss will be perceived. As we learnt in the 7th sloka, duality exists only because of such modifications.

The above is not exactly correct because only when there are real thoughts/modifications, this is valid. And as explained earlier, the Self alone is present. Peace is achieved not just by removal of thoughts – because in that case, thoughts will come again and peace will go. Such peace will be temporary. Real peace is knowing that the thoughts are temporary and illusory. This is what is called realization too when the seeker realizes the Self beyond the illusory thoughts and objects. This alone can give real peace. Thus peace is not removal of duality but knowing that the duality perceieved is an illusion. If duality is removed, then it will come again too (might come again too). But since there is no real duality, “removal” or “negation” also is not really possible- but what is done is knowing that there is no duality at all.

This is what Vidyaranya also agrees by bringing the concept of Kutastha and telling that “I am the witness to all activies and hence not affected by it even though thoughts might seem to exist temporarily”.
When these are removed, the duality and hence the likes, dislikes, misery, sorrow etc. arising out of these are also negated and the true nature of Self is known.

In other words, the intellect which is free from modifications is reveals the pure consciousness. Hence it has been said before in sloka 5 also that even in wakefulness the calm unmodified state of the intellect is lit up by the pure consciousness. Swami Vidyaranya also explains this in the 8th chapter of Panchadashi as “The intervals between the various thought as well as the absence of thought itself as illumined by an unchangeable consciousness, which is also called as the Kutastha.”
It is this absolute consciousness that is free from all modifications which is the implied meaning of the word ‘Tvam’ in the Mahavakya “ Tat Tvam Asi” .

The above mentioned way of realizing the ultimate reality of Brahman between two thoughts is only a way to show to the doubtful seeker the nature of Brahman. The seeker hears from the Guru that Brahman is blissful etc. But he is unable to apprehend or intuitively experience Brahman during the waking state. Thus he gets a doubt whether there is any such Brahman or not? Also he gets the wrong conviction that “there is no such Brahman as I don’t experience it”. These two arise only for those whose intellect is weak and unable to apprehend through logic the reality that there is no duality here but only non-dual Brahman of the nature of bliss. But for those, who are unable to get faith through scriptural statements and logic (who have faith progress on the path and very easily realize the reality without doing any meditation or Samadhi states), this path of contemplation on the reality through removal of thoughts is propounded.

As in deep sleep, when the seeker removes all thoughts – he is able to apprehend the reality of Brahman in its essential nature without the illusory world or its objects. Thus he gets the faith after intuitive experience of the reality. He then contemplates on the reality while living in the world and at all points of time. Then he realizes that the world and its objects never really exist but only are illusions in the reality – thus thoughts never have any existence – they only seem to exist. If they seem to exist, let them exist! What does it really matter if thoughts exist or not??? The real thing is whether the seeker is affected by thoughts or not --- the seeker who realizes his nature of Kutastha Chaitanya is never affected by thoughts as he is the mere witness of the illusions of thoughts.

Thus we have to remember that in reality there are no thoughts even though thoughts might be seen or experienced. And after realization, the seeker comes to know that “at all times, there is nirvikalpa Brahman alone”. Thus his wrong knowledge that “Brahman can be experienced only when there are no thoughts” vanishes. Yes, there needs a correction in Mallika’s mail about realization of Brahman --- first thing is there are no real thoughts at all, thus removal of thoughts also has no real value at all. Even when thoughts seem to be there, there is Brahman alone as the substratum or reality behind the thoughts. Thus the statement that “Brahman is realized only when thoughts are removed” is not exactly correct. Realization is realizing that everything is Brahman only & that there is nothing apart from Brahman. For this, the state when thoughts are removed helps out to understand/know that “there is something called Brahman which is not affected by thoughts”. This state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi is not exactly accepted by Vedanta as the final state. The final state of realization is Sahaja Samadhi which is natural state of Samadhi or being established as the Self.

Thus Ramana gives the following example to show that even Nirvikalpa Samadhi (which Sankara mentions in the next slokas) is also temporary: A saint was meditating and then he said to his shishya to bring water as he was feeling thirsty. When the shishya brought water, the saint had entered nirvikalpa Samadhi – after many years, the saint returned back from nirvikalpa Samadhi and the first word he uttered was “water! Water!” as he was feeling thirsty. Thus nirvikalpa Samadhi is the state similar to deep sleep – the only difference being that there is no awareness in deep sleep whereas in nirvikalpa Samadhi awareness is there.


In the last slokas we learnt that the pure consciousness though hidden by the modifications like the thread hidden by beads or pearls in a necklace, shines forth in the interval of two modifications of the intellect. One has to remember that the reality which is the pure consciousness is always there whether there are thoughts or not, just as the thread in the necklace. Now let us move to the next sloka,

ekadvitrikshaNeshhveva.n vikalpasya nirodhanam.h
krameNaabhyasyataa.n yatnaadbrahmaanubhavakaa~NkshibhiH .. 12..

Evam: it being so
Nirodham: suppression
Vikalpasya: of a modification
Abhyasyataam: should be practiced
Yatnat: with care
Brahmanubhavakamkshibhihi: by the aspirants to experience of Brahman
Kramena: by degrees
Eka dwi trikshanena: of one two three moments (and so on)

Persons aspiring to the experience of Brahman should, therefore practice by slow degrees this restraint of modifications starting with one moment and then extending it to two, three and so on.

In this sloka Acahraya explains us that the contemplation has to be constant and by such constant practice, the true nature of Self can be realized. Seekers striving for liberation with pure mind, should gradually practice the restraint or suppression of mental modifications, beginning first with one moment and then extending to two, three and so on, what is meant is this: it is possible for a person with spiritual insight to realize the true nature of Brahman by making the mind clear of all modifications and affections.
A person of faith recollects the bliss of Self experienced during such intervals of thoughts, and thereby strengthens the determination and, by constant contemplation, the conviction of the ever blissful nature of Self becomes stronger. Such constant contemplation can remove all the confusions in the mind in regard to the true nature of Self and the seeker eventually realizes that all the world and the thoughts themselves are only illusions in the reality.
By gradually increasing the duration of such contemplation and restraining from the modifications, eventually, the contemplation becomes natural and the true nature of Self is thus established even when there seem to be thoughts.

Sankara in these slokas is talking about Samadhi which is removal of thoughts (nirvikalpa Samadhi). As Patanjali says “Tadeva artha maatra nirbhaasam svaroopa shoonyam iva samaadhi” – that state when there is only the object of contemplation (the contemplator and the act of contemplation merge into the object of contemplation) and the state is like that of voidness (nothing but the object alone exists) is called Samadhi. Patanjali too accepts other types of Samadhi too.

But for Vedanta, there are just three samadhis – Savikalpa (that which has a vikalpa or modification associated with it – distinction of contemplator, act of contemplation and object of contemplation still is there) and Nirvikalpa (without any modification, there is no modification at all but just ONE alone exists – this can be any object or the real object of Subject or Self – contemplation on Self is what Vedanta prescribes). The third type of Samadhi is what is important and required – called as Sahaja or natural. As per Drik Drishya Viveka, a person should go on practicing either Savikalpa or nirvikalpa until it becomes sahaja or natural.

Sankara here speaks about nirvikalpa so that the seeker clearly experiences (intuitively) the Self without any thoughts/distractions & in its pure form. We have to infer that a person interested to realize the Self should practice savikalpa or nirvikalpa regularly (and at all times as Sankara himself will be referring to in the coming slokas).


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