Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sloka 13 and Sloka 14


In the last slokas we learnt that a seeker must continuously practice restraining from the thoughts and through constant contemplation the true nature of the Self is realized. This sloka explains that a seeker whose intellect is free from all modifications will eventually realize the oneness of Self and Brahman by contemplating on the truth in the Maha vakya ‘Aham Brahmasmi’.

savikalpajiivo.ayaM brahma tannirvikalpakam.h
ahaM brahmeti vaakyena so.ayamartho.abhidhiiyate .. 13..

Ayam: this
Savikalpajeevaha: individual self with modifications
Tan/ Syat: becomes

The TAN Nirvikalpakam instead of SYAT Nirvikalpakam is a paataanthara or different text reading in some cases. If SYAT is used, then it means that the individual Self becomes Brahman – if TAT is used, then it means that the individual Self itself is Brahman (not much difference in both the meanings).

Brahma nirvikalpam: the undifferentiated Brahman
Ayam Brahma iti vakyena: by (realizing the truth of) the teaching “I am Brahman”
Saha ayam arthaha: that same object ( as expounded in Upanishads)
Abhidheeyate: is explained here ( in this treatise)

This individual self (Jeeva) which is now affected by modifications of the intellect, will in time become one with the undifferentiated Brahman by realizing the truth of the vedantic teaching: ‘I am Brahma’. That is the idea sought to be conveyed here in this treatise.

Acharya here starts by the words, “SAVIKALPA” i.e the one who has vikalpas or the one who is affected by all the modifications. Here it is explains that for a seeker even though there may by modifications, by the proper sadhana under the guidance of a Guru, and by contemplating on the mahavakyas, eventually will realize the true nature of Sat-Chit-Ananda of Self will be realized.

We can clearly see here that Acharya is stressing on the importance of Sadhana and constant contemplation of the reality in all the Mahavakyas. One need not think and brood that “This mind is not clear, I am not eligible for knowledge” etc. what has to be given importance is to make oneself ready for that knowledge which is ever present and the very nature of Self.
Even if there are modifications of the intellect now, by proper sadhana, and constant contemplation about the absolute reality, the mastery over mind has be established. Sadhana here means the four preparatory disciplines, sadhana chatushtayam required for a seeker which are Samadi sadhaka sampatti, Viveka, Vairagya and Mumukshutvam. Acharya Sankara also explains the importance of same in Aparoksha anubhuti, 10th sloka as : “ Only that person who is in possession of the said qualifications should constantly reflect with a view to attaining knowledge, desiring his own good ( good here would mean liberation from ignorance)“

Just as a fruit that falls from the tree once it is ripened completely, a seeker in possession of the sadhana chatushtayam immediately realizes the nature of Self even after hearing the Mahavakyas only once from the Guru.

Such oneness of Self and Brahman which is the import of all the shastras is what is dealt in this treatise. Just as the rope-snake does not exist apart from the rope, similarly the individual self does not exist apart from Brahman and this is the sum and substance of Vedanta. The knowledge of this oneness leads to the removal of all the illusory ignorance and one realizes the nature of Self. Vedanta doesn’t really believe in bringing in the Self or making a person realize the Self but Vedanta believes in making a seeker realize his own very nature of Self or making a person realize the Self which is his own very nature. This very nature of Self has been forgotten because of AVIDYA or ignorance. What is avidya, how come it came and veiled the Self – such questions are futile because avidya has come already and we should concentrate on how should avidya be removed (if a person is hungry, he never analyzes as to how come hunger came, from where hunger came etc. but instead he will concentrate on removing hunger”).
Thus Vedanta is an effort to remove AVIDYA through VIDYA of one’s own very nature. When this Vidya or mental knowledge comes, it removes avidya and itself vanishes even as the “alum” put into water purifies the water & itself vanishes. Similarly when avidya is removed through Vidya (both illusory), what remains behind is the ever-present Self.


savikalpakachidyo.ahaM brahmaika.n nirvikalpakam.h
svataHsiddhaa vikalpaaste niroddhavyaaH prayatnataH .. 14..

Savikalpakachit: the consciousness with modifications

The word used here is Savikalpaka Chit – which means Chit along with Vikalpaas – this really need not be the reflected consciousness but Consciousness associated with modifications due to ignorance or ajnaana.

Yaha saha: that I am
Brahma ekam: (is really) one with Brahman
Nirvikalpam: undifferentatited
Te: these
Vikalpaha: modifications (that are)
Swataha sidhaha: self evident
Nirodhavyaha: have to be suppressed
Prayatnaha: with all efforts

The reflected consciousness, though involved in the modifications of the intellect, that I am now, is really one with the undifferentiated Brahman, The apparent modifications, which are self evident( being always associated with the reflected consciousness) have only to be suppressed by all efforts ( in order that this realization of Brahman may come)

RC has no separate existence apart from the OC. IF medium of reflection is removed, RC merges into OC. This is what is explained if RC is meant in the sloka.
If OC or kutastha is mentioned in the sloka, then the Self or OC seems to be affected by the modifications but in fact is not at all affected as modifications are mere illusions superimposed on the Self.

This is supported by Yoga Vasistha thus:

Chit chetya kalithaa bandhah tan muktha muktiruchyathe
Chit achetya kila atmethi sarva Vedanta sangrahah

Chit or Consciousness when mixed with thoughts is in bondage & removal of thoughts is liberation. The Self devoid of thoughts is the Atman – this is in short essence of Vedanta.

A seeker must not let the modifications and such thoughts affect the mind stuff. And since the true nature of the pure consciousness is realized only when the mind cleared of all modifications and affections there fore one has to strive by all means to experience that infinite bliss which is the very nature of Self by making the mind free of all modifications and affections. Hence it can be said that the mental modifications which are self evident and derived from the ignorance of the true nature of the Self have to be controlled and suppressed with all efforts.
Here maybe we can extend the “self-evidence of thoughts” to avidya. AVidya or ignorance cannot be proved through any pramaana as then it will become like the Self. Avidya is thus anirvachaneeya or inexplicable. As it is inexplicable, we cannot say that Avidya is not there as it is self-evident and experienced by each person (anubhava).

Thus Sureshwaracharya says in his Brihadaranyaka Bhashya Vartika that “if avidya could be proved by pramana, it would be real as the Self – but this is not so – hence it is the very nature of avidya to not become a subject of avidya – but still it is known through experience or anubhava”.

Since avidya is not real, it will vanish one day. That which vanishes is only an illusion and not really real. Thus when thoughts are removed or known to be illusions, the Self alone remains behind.

By such earnest practice, the mind is successfully made free of all affections and in time though subject to modifications, the individual self realizes the true nature of Self and becomes verily the Brahman, i.e. the unmodified pure consciousness.
WE have to remember that even though Sankara says “remove thoughts”, what it really means is to be established in the Self other than the mind going behind sense objects. For this to happen, the mind has to initially get rid of thoughts & try to concentrate on the Self. Thus this process has two distinct parts – 1. Removal of thoughts and 2. Concentrating or contemplating on the Self.
If the second part is not there, there is no real use of the first one because then it will be like the deep sleep state where there are no thoughts but still the bliss got from it is only temporary and not permanent.


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