Manasollasa is a wonderful treatise on Advaita by Sri Sureshwaracharya, the great disciple of Acharya Shankara. This is actually a commentary on Acharya's Dakshinamurti Stotra. This is called Manasollasa – ` that which exhilarates the mind'. However, I would like to add that before getting such joy out of a tough metaphysical work like this, a taste for the same has to be assiduously cultivated. Manasollasa itself has a commentary by a seventeenth century scholar named Raama Tirtha. Presented here is a summary of this invaluable work, with invaluable notes by Sri Swami Harshanandaji of Ramakrishna Ashrama.
`This exists', `This reveals itself', thus proceeds ordinarylife. And, in which thing is this `existence or revelation' established? Is it established in those respective things? Or in God, the Self of All? What is the nature of Ishwara or God and Jiva or individual soul? And, what is the nature of this `being, which is the Self of all? ` These are the questions asked by the disciple. As a result of the merit acquired over several previous lives, the spirit of discrimination (Viveka) and detachment (Vairagya) has dawned upon him. This has endowed him with the required competence (Adhikara) to enquire into the nature of Truth.
Every object that is grasped by our senses appears to exhibit two characteristics: existence (Astitva) and the capacity to be revealed (Prakaashatva). The question is where these two are established? Are they separate for each object and exist in the object itself? Or, are they universal and exist in Ishwara, the common substratum and Self of the entire creation?
How does Jiva know that Ishwara is the Lord and Self of all? What is the means of achieving this knowledge? What result does he gain by that knowledge? Is it obtaining something new like heaven, which was not there before? Or, is it a rediscovery of an already established fact, like rediscovering the necklace on the neck, which had been forgotten due to absent-mindedness? How does this identity between Jiva and Ishwara come about?
Now, the preceptor starts replying to all these queries. All the fourteen worlds exist in Ishwara. The entire world, though inside Him, appears to be outside, like the reflection in a mirror, due to Maya. Just as one, in a dream, sees the world within oneself as if it is separate, in the same way, during the waking state also, this world should be judged. It is deduced that, in dream, the reality of the objects is nothing but the reality of oneself. Then, what specialty is there in the objects seen in the waking state, which are insentient and quickly destroyed? Thus, the common point between the dream state and the waking state is that in both cases, the objects of experience are transient.
The revelation of the objects in dream is due to the light of oneself and not due to anything else. Similarly, in waking state also – so do the wise ones decide. The point to be noted here is that any object, which cannot exist independently, cannot also reveal itself independently. How can an object, which does not exist, reveal itself? Just as one who has woken up from sleep, does not see the objects shown in dream, even so, one does not see the world, after attaining knowledge par excellence. This knowledge is the realization of atman or Brahman, the basis of all existence and consciousness.
When the Jiva who has been asleep due to beginning-less Maya, wakes up, then, he realizes the non-dual Self, which is beyond the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. Ignorance of, and mistaken notions about, the atman are as good as sleep, or perhaps worse than sleep. Sleep breaks in a natural way without our effort, whereas only rigorous Sadhana can remove ignorance and false understanding. The awakening from Maya comes as a result of the teachings of a competent Guru.
By the kindness of the Vedas and the spiritual preceptor, by the dint of the practice of yoga, as also by the grace of the God, when the knowledge of the Self arises, the aspirant sees the whole world as swallowed up by the fullness of the `I' principle i.e. the Self. The atman-Brahman principle can never be known through the medium of the senses or even the intellect or by inference. Its existence and nature are known only through the revealed scriptures or Vedas.
Just as one becomes a king in a dream, enjoys all the desired objects, conquers an enemy in the battle-field, is defeated later by another enemy, retires into forest and performs austerities, and thinks that he has lived for a very long time, even though it was for a very short period, as long as the dream lasts. In the same way, in the waking state also, he rules over the kingdom fancied by the mind, and does not perceive how his life is getting destroyed by the powerful floods of the river of time. Like the sun covered by clouds, the Atman being greatly deluded by Maya, appears like one who knows little and can do little. However, the reality is only one. It is the atman-Brahman principle. It is this same principle that appears both as Ishwara and as Jiva. The example of the king given above clarifies this point. It is the same person that becomes both the king and the forest mendicant. Both these conditions have been brought about by dream state. In the same way, it is association with Maya that makes the Atman appear as Ishwara. Entering into the created world and subjecting himself to the influence of Maya, he becomes the Jiva. There is no separate or independent entity called Jiva at all.
Whatever work a person accomplishes by his own power or whatever knowledge he gains by his own capacity, with regard to that, he is described as `emperor', `king', `servant' or `Lord'. Thus, anyone who achieves anything great in this world, by dint of his own efforts and capacity, is an Ishwara with regard to the achievement. The point to be noted however is that, it is due to the identity with Ishwara that the powers of knowledge and action have been transferred to all the living beings. That the Jiva is also Ishwara is established by the fact of the accretion of the powers of Ishwara on the Jiva. What is meant here is that the power of knowledge and action, Jnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti, really belong to Ishwara. He alone is independent. These powers are also seen in the Jiva, but they are borrowed powers like the heat in a red-hot iron ball. Because the jives exhibit these powers which belong to Ishwara, therefore it may be inferred that Ishwara is in them, as their very Self. Hence His Sarvaatmatva or the quality of being the Self of all is proved.
Like the light of sun, it is knowledge or consciousness that shines by itself in all such apprehensions as: `This is a pot', `This is a cloth'. When an object like a pot or a cloth is seen in sunlight, it is actually the sunlight that is reflected from those objects that is being seen. And, sunlight does not need a second object to reveal itself. It is self-revealing. Similarly, when we know an object as, `This is a pot', it is actually the consciousness of our self that is revealing itself. If knowledge or consciousness were not self-existent, then the world would have become blindly dark. If Ishwara did not possess any Kriya (activity), then, how can day-to-day life proceed? But what is this Kriya? Kriya or activity is of the nature of movement and transformation. When knowledge or consciousness flows out, then activity rises as its effect, as it were. Here Ishwara is being described as Sarvajna (all-knowing) and Sarvakarta (doer of all), thereby attributing two important characteristics of Jnana and Kriya to him.
Kriya or activity manifests itself in two ways: Parispanda, which means vibration or movement as in the case of an arrow, shot from the bow. The second way is called Parinama, which means transformation or change of state as in the case of gold being made into ornaments. Now the scriptures say that Kriya is a product of Jnana. How it is so, can be explained as follows: When a person sees a small boulder on his path, lifts it with his hands and clears his path, a long chain of actions will have taken place. First, his mind- stuff, with the reflection of the consciousness of Atman in it, flows out through the eyes, envelopes the boulder and produces the knowledge, `This is a boulder'. Second, he thinks, `Since this is obstructing my path, let me remove it'. Third, he lifts it with his hands and removes it elsewhere. It is actually this last part, which is actual Kriya. For this, the hands are the gross instrument. This instrument in turn is moved by the power of Prana, the vital breath of life-force energy. This Prana, is situated in the body and supported by the Atman, which is consciousness personified. Thus it is seen that Kriya is the end product of Jnana. This atman that is the Antaryamin (the indweller) is really Ishwara. Hence whatever activity is seen in living beings, it is to be understood as having ensued from Ishwara Himself.
Activity abides in production, attainment, refinement and change. It gets manifested in such actions as are indicated by the verbs, `He does', `He goes', and `He goes', `He rubs' etc. what we mean here is that Kriya is abstract and that it gets manifested through certain actions. `Doing' as in the case of a potter, `produces' a pot. This is Utpatti or production. `Going' as in the case of a traveler returning home results in his `attaining' his home or goal. This is Praapti or attainment. `Rubbing' as in the case of the goldsmith brings about a `refinement' in the ornament through polish. This is Samskaara or refinement. `Cutting' as in the case of a tree-feller makes the tree undergo a `change' or disfigurement. This is Vikaara or change. All these are different aspects of Parinama or transformation. The first, Parispanda or movement has already been illustrated in the boulder example.
Ishwara, in the bodies of Brahma, Vishnu and other deities, appears to be omniscient. In gods, human beings and animals, respectively in the decreasing order, his knowledge becomes limited. Beings born out of the womb, the egg, moisture and springing from the earth-these four classes, again, have less knowledge in the decreasing order starting from the first. Ishwara, the Sarvajna (all-knowing) has become the Jiva who is a Kinchijna (the little-knowing). What is the reason for it? It is just a question of manifestation of knowledge, which depends upon the type of body the Jiva inhabits. In the scale of evolution, higher the type of body, greater the manifestation of knowledge. Similarly, lower the type of body, lesser the manifestation of knowledge. When the Supreme Atman, the unlimited light is realized, it will be discovered that everything from Brahma (the creator) upto a blade of grass is only a fanciful idea like that of a dream. On waking up from sleep, all the fanciful creations of dream just disappear. Similarly, when the infinite Atman is realized, this finite creation also disappears.
The Upanishads describe the Atman thus, ` The Atman, smaller than the smallest and greater than the greatest, dwells in the hearts of the creatures. The desire less one, being free from grief, realizes the glory of Atman through the purity of senses and mind'. Now, let us examine the views of some prominent schools of thought regarding the material cause of the world.
According to the Vaisesika school of thought, the material cause of this world is Paramanu or atoms of the elements earth, fire, water etc. They try to prove their theory as follows: `Just as clay and not Ishwara, is the material cause of a pot, which is seen invariably as consisting of clay, in the same way, it is the atoms combined that form the material cause of the world and not Ishwara. The various qualities like form, taste, smell etc. that may appear in the products of these atoms, are really produced from those qualities in the atoms themselves. Even here, the agency of Ishwara is not needed'.
As far as created objects are concerned, there are three Kaaranas or causes that contribute to their production. They are: Samavayee Kaarana or inherent cause, Asamavayee Kaarana or non- inherent cause and Nimitta Kaarana or efficient cause. `Samavaaya' is a technical term of Nyaya-Vaisesika school. It is the relationship by which a quality inheres in the qualified object (eg. Redness in rose or motion in a moving object). Extending this principle further, this school says that an effect like a pot inheres in the cause, the clay, from which it is made to manifest. So, clay is the Samavayee Kaarana for the pot. The potter's wheel and the stick are Asamvayee Kaaranas or non-inherent causes. The potter himself is the Nimitta Kaarana or the efficient cause. In creation, according to this view, Ishwara plays only the third role as Nimitta Kaarana and not the first two. The material cause is always reflected in its effects. Since Ishwara is not reflected in this world, therefore, He is not the material cause. This is the conclusion of these schools.
Now let us examine briefly the conclusions of the Sankhya school in this matter. Pradhana comprises of the three Gunas or qualities: Rajas, Satva and Tamas. Among them, rajas is red in color and is of the nature of constant change. Satva is white in color and is of the nature of light. Tamas is dark and is of the nature of concealing or covering. They are respectively the causes of creation, sustenance and destruction of the world. This is what the Sankhyas declare. If the Nyaya-Vaisesika school accepts Ishwara at least as the Nimitta Kaarana, the Sankhya school has completely dispensed with Him!
These theories can be easily refuted. Most of these schools of thought depend upon two methods of knowledge: Pratyaksha (direct perception) and Anumana (inference), laying great emphasis on intellect and reasoning. The Vedanta school depends primarily on Aaptavakya or shabda (verbal testimony of the scriptures) using logic also, to meet the other schools on their own ground.
The main contention of Advaita Vedanta is that the fundamental truth is one, without a second, Adviteeya. It is the Atman-Brahman, which is pure existence (sat), pure consciousness (chit) and pure bliss (Ananda). Since this world is a fact of our experience and since its creation has to be explained somehow to satisfy our curiosities, we may consider two examples. Firstly, this world of wonderful varieties existed in Ishwara, even as a mighty tree with its several roots, branches, leaves and fruits, existed in its seed, in an undifferentiated form. When the power of Ishwara called Maya, under His direction, projected space and time, this `seed' of the world got evolved into all its varieties. Secondly, this projection of the world is not a real creation like the potter making a pot out of clay, but the illusionary manifestation brought out by Ishwara just by his own will, like the magician producing articles of magic. This obviates the need for a material cause outside Ishwara, which would otherwise militate against the conception of Advaita.
It is an accepted fact that the material cause is invariably present and perceptible in all the effects. For instance, clay is present and perceptible in the lump, the finished pot, and in broken pot-shreds. Since `existence' is invariably present and perceptible in all objects of the world, that itself is the material cause. If the Paramaanus or the atomic particles are the material cause of this world, they should have been perceived in all the effects, starting from the seed right upto the tree and fruits. But they are not. Again, since the Paramanus are invisible, the world, which is their product, also should have been invisible. Hence the Paramaanus are not the material cause of this creation, but Ishwara.
It is acceptable to all that the effect exists in its cause. Hence existence and revelation follow in all the effects. If the effect pre-exits in the material cause, it is to be conceded that it is the material cause that is appearing in another from, as the effects as for example, the clay appearing as a pot. Since `existence' and Sphurattaa (the capacity to reveal itself) are present in all objects of creation, therefore Brahman, which is sat and chit, should be accepted as the material cause of this world.
When a flower is transformed into a fruit and milk into curd, the qualities of color, taste etc., are seen to be different. It is normally accepted by all that the qualities in the material-cause produce similar qualities in the effects. For instance, the red color of the thread produces red color in the cloth woven out of that thread. If this principle is applied, the attempt of some to show that in a series of transformations (as for example, a seed ultimately becoming the fruit) each succeeding effect becomes the cause for the next, fails. When the flower becomes the fruit or milk becomes curd, they differ from each other very widely. Hence it is to be accepted that all these are appearances of Brahman only.
Cause and Effect (eg. Seed and sprout), part and whole (eg. Threads and cloth), species and individual (eg. Feline family and cat), quality and qualified (eg. Red color and red cloth), action and that which is endowed with action (eg. Movement and a moving object like a wheel)- all these are only ideas superposed on Brahman, which is pure consciousness. These various dualities are only appearances in Brahman brought about by Maya.
Neither for the atomic particles nor for the Pradhana of the Sankhyas, consciousness has been conceded. In the process of creation of the world, consciousness and action are seen associated with the living conscious entity only. It is only a living conscious entity that can set forth the process of creation. Without a potter, the pot can never be produced. Hence it is only Ishwara that can set forth the creative process of the world. The atomic particles of the Vaisesika theory and the Pradhana of the Sankhya theory (comprising of the three Gunas), which are accepted as the matrix for creation, are both without consciousness and hence incapable of creation.
Curd is produced from milk by the power of action of Ishwara, in the form of time. By the power of knowledge of Ishwara, this world of knower, known and knowledge is produced. The Sankhyas who posit Pradhana, the insentient principle as the cause of creation, give the example of milk becoming curd by itself, without being associated with any conscious entity, as the proof. Even here however, it is the Kriya Shakti of Ishwara, in the form of time that is always associated with Ishwara that is responsible for this transformation. Thus, it is never bereft of association with the conscious principle called Ishwara. As regards the creation of this world, which can be divided into the knowing entity, the known entity and knowledge itself, it is due to the Jnana Shakti or the power of knowledge of Ishwara. Knowledge is of two types, the Nirvikalpa (without modifications)- which reveals the object and the Savikalpa (with modifications)- which however is manifold since it reveals name and form. When we perceive a jar, the first cognition that we get is a very general one, `This is jar'. Closer examination reveals many more things like, `This is a small red jar made of clay, with a lid, and two holes on the right side'. The former is Nirvikalpa and the latter is Savikalpa. Other examples for Savikalpa knowledge are will, doubt, misapprehension, memory, cognition of similarity, determination, guess, and the incapacity to determine the real nature of things.
The Charvakas (materialists) accept only Pratyaksha or direct perception as the means of knowledge. The Vaisesika School and the Buddhists accept in addition, Anumaana or inference also. The Sankhyas accept all these, along with Shabda or scriptural testimony. Pratyaksha is the means of knowledge by direct perception through the physical senses like the eyes, nose etc. Anumaana is the inferential knowledge gained by perceiving some signs invariably associated with the objects as; as for instance, in guessing the existence of fire by seeing smoke. Shabda is verbal testimony, the words of honest and authoritative people. Scriptural testimony is the highest among such verbal testimonies since the scriptures contain super-sensory knowledge revealed to the sages. Some of the Vaisesikas also accept this. Others accept Upamaana or comparison in addition.
The Purva Mimamsa school has branched off into two sub- schools founded by Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhakara. Prabhakara accepts Pratyaksha, Anumana, Shabda and Upamana along with Arthaapti or implied knowledge. Consider the example, ` Devadatta, who is growing fat, is never seen to eat by day'. Hence, the implication is, `He must be eating by night!' Kumarila Bhatta accepts all these along with Abhaava or non-existence as the sixth. The Pauranikas accept all the six along with Sambhava (possibility) and Aitihya (tradition). Abhaava is also called Anupalabdhi or non-perception. The non- perception of a pot in the niche proves its non-existence there. The Pauranikas are those who believe in the ancient legends and lores, handed down usually by oral tradition. Sambhava means possibility. When a drum of fifty litres has been fully filled by grain, and if an additional quarter litre of grain is brought near it, it shows Sambhava or possibility of accommodating that additional quantity also. This is another means of knowledge. Aitihya is a means of knowledge that has been handed down by tradition. For example, people may believe that an evil spirit haunts a banyan tree near the burial ground, if that knowledge has been handed down by tradition for generations.
The Vaisesikas describe six Padarthas or categories of objects as follows: Dravya (substance), Guna (quality), Karma (action), Saamaanya (generality), Vishesha (speciality) and Samavaaya (inference). All objects of this world that are perceived by the senses and the mind have been grouped under six headings by the Vaisesikas as narrated here. The Dravyas are nine: the Five Bhootas- earth, water, fire, air and ether or sky, space, time, soul and mind. The Gunas are twenty-four: sound, touch, color, taste, smell, dimension, number, conjunction and separation, separateness (the quality that makes a thing appear to be separate from others), weight, liquidity, distance, nearness, oiliness, tendency, knowledge, aversion, pleasure, pain, desire, merit (invisible good effect produced by the performance of righteous actions), demerit and effort. Tendency again is of three types: the speed that causes movement in an arrow discharged from the bow is the first. The impression that causes remembrance of what is seen, heard and experienced is the second. That which is called elasticity, causing recovery to the former condition- as seen clearly in the case of a branch or the leaf of the birch tree that is pulled-is the third.
The wise ones describe action as fivefold: throwing up, throwing down, motion, expansion and contraction. `Generality' is said to be of two kinds: the superior and the inferior. The superior is `existence' itself. Liquidity, attributes etc., which exist following this `existence', form the inferior generality. Specialties, which are responsible for differential knowledge, are infinite. Because the objects that are met in this world are infinite, the `specialties' in them-what make them appear different from one another- are also infinite.
In Sankhya school, the important categories listed are Prakriti, Pradhana (the chief), Avyakta (the unmanifest), Avidya (nescience), Ajnana (ignorance), Akshara (the indestructible), Avyaakrita (the undifferentiated) and Tamas (darkness). As a result of the contact of the reflection of the consciousness of Brahman in Maya, Mahat (the great), Kaala (time) and Pumaan (Jiva or individual soul) are manifested. From Mahat is born Ahankaara or ego-principle. Mahat is also called Buddhi (cosmic intelligence). It is the first evolute of Prakriti or nature. Kaala or time is a mode of the power of Brahman that arises out of association with Prakriti. Pumaan. The individual soul, though unborn and independent, somehow gets into the grip of Mahat and consequently suffers as doer and enjoyer of good and bad actions. Ahankaara is what endows individuality and separateness to a created object. As already stated, Pradhana consists of the three Gunas. Now, let us consider the evolutes of the Pradhana. The five elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth are produced out of the Taamasic aspect of Ahankaara. So, also the five qualities of sound, touch, color, taste and smell, in that order. These five qualities are the objects of the five sense organs, ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose. Antahkarana (the internal organ) and the five sense organs are produced out of the Satva aspect of Ahankaara. The Antahkarana or the internal organ comprises of Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Ahankara (egoism) and Chitta (mindstuff). Doubt, determination, arrogance and memory are the objects of these four aspects of Antahkarana respectively. The following are understood to be Jnanendriyas or organs of knowledge or perception: ear, skin, eyes, tongue and nose. The five Karmendriyas or organs of action (namely speech, hands, feet, organs of evacuation and generation) and the five vital airs (Pranas) are produced out of the rajas aspect of Ahankara. The objects of these organs of action are respectively speech, seizing, movement, evacuation and pleasure. The five vital airs are: Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana. The followers of the science of Sankhya understand the fundamental principles of the world as twenty-four in number, comprising the five elements, the five vital airs and the fourteen senses. Counting Mahat, Kaala, Pradhaana, Maya, aVidyaa and Purusha (same as Jiva) along with the above, the Pauranikas describe the fundamental principles as thirty. Maya is associated with Ishwara but his under his control. Avidyaa is associated with the Jiva, but overwhelms him. This is the basic difference between the two.
The various Tatvas or principles put forward by these different schools have been dubbed as Vikalpas, only conjectures, and not real. It is Ishwara Himself who has promulgated those various views by assuming the forms of the Rishis (sages) who were the founders of those schools. It was said before that the world was non-different from Ishwara before creation. However, even after the creation has come into existence, it continues to be non-different from Him. All living beings exhibit the traits of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya before they perform any act. And, these three are really the traits of Ishwara. Hence all the beings are aspects of Ishwara. Again, these traits have been manifested because of Ishwara's association with Maya. Hence the world, which is a creation out of these three traits, is also Maya. Since Ishwara possesses infinite power, He is able to create everything, sustain it and destroy it, just by His free will, independently, without needing the help of a second object i.e. without the help of a material cause or an instrumental cause.
Ishwara, who is eternal, does not become a `doer' just by the activity of the means of Kriya. Nor does he become a `knower' by the activity of the means of knowledge. He is verily self-resplendent. The idea is that one who is a knower or doer by virtue of external means, is subject to change. What is subject to change cannot be eternal. Then, how does Ishwara exercise his Kriya Shakti and Jnana Shakti? It is by his mere presence, like a magnet or a king, whose presence is enough for others to do their duties.
According to Advaita Vedanta, Ishwara is Abhinna-Nimitta-Upaadaana-Kaarana i.e. He is both the efficient cause and the material cause of this world. Secondly, creation is a projection out of Himself by his power of Maya. Thirdly, the whole process of creation, sustenance and destruction is just an illusionary exercise. Thus it becomes clear that Ishwara is the unchanging eternal Reality. It is a well known universally accepted principle that while discussing about things beyond the reach of the senses, one should proceed from the seen to the unseen, from the known to the unknown. The of quoted example for the Nimitta Kaarana is the potter. The potter has to exert himself to produce the pot. This exertion involves the use of his limbs. That means, he is a Saririn (embodied being) with limbs or parts. Anything that is embodied or comprising of parts gets destroyed one day. If Ishwara is accepted as only the Nimitta Kaarana, He has perforce to be admitted as an embodied being subjected to change, decay and death. This however is against all scriptural statements. Also, there is no example in this world by which we can illustrate that a thing can be changeable and yet eternal. Hence, the views of the Sankhyas and Vaisesikas cannot be accepted.
If Ishwara possessed Gunas like Buddhi etc. eternally, then, being endowed with an eternal desire, He would have to engage Himself in the act of creation of this world, eternally. Then, since the inclination towards action will not cease, the bondage of transmigration also will not cease. Therefore this creation of the world by Ishwara is only a phenomenon of Maya.
Existence and revelation have passed on from the eternal Ishwara into these objects, which are similar to unreality, insentient and transient. This passing on (Sankrama) is not like the passing on of heat from the fire to the iron ball. In that case, reality will have to be conceded for the free iron ball, which is against Advaita. It is more like the borrowed reality of the snake in the rope or silver in nacre, wherein the snake or silver do not exist apart from the substratum, which alone is real. The existence of these objects is the existence of the Atman alone and not anything apart from it. Similarly, their revelation is not different from the revelation of the atman.
The various kinds of perception as also their objects are connected together in the ego-sense like the groups of pearls on the string. When the light of the Atman is reflected in the mind, it is called Ahamkara or ego-sense. This itself is the Jiva, the individual soul. The various kinds of knowledge that arise out of perceiving various objects of the senses coalesce in this ego-sense. The existence of those objects (Sattaa) and knowledge about them (Sphurana) are perceived only through thus ego-sense, which again is only a reflection of the Sphurana of the Atman. Previously, existence itself had been denied to the objects of the world. Here, granting an empirical existence for them, their unity I the Atman-consciousness is being shown.
This world appears to all as verily non-different from light. The waves, bubbles etc., do not have an existence of their own, separate from water. Neither the waves nor the bubbles have any independent existence apart from water. Similarly, all the objects of this world, which derive their Sattaa and Sphurana from the Atman, are Atman alone in reality.
That knowledge which enters into an object producing the awareness `I know (this object)', later on, rests on the inner Self as `This was known by me'. This proves that Sphurana or revelation is a quality of the Atman and not of the outside object. The effects like jar etc. rest upon their material causes like clay etc. Since this world is non-different from light or consciousness, it has to rest on the supreme Lord.
Just as a mirror becomes dirty by the dust on it, knowledge also gets covered by ignorance. Hence, the beings are deluded by that. If the non-dual principle is the Reality, then, how is it that the living beings cannot comprehend it? The dirt on the mirror covers it, making it incapable of reflecting things. Similarly, Ajnana or ignorance which is begginningless (Anaadi) and indescribable (Anivrchaneeya) covers the Jnana of the beings. Consequently, they perceive the world of duality, develop desires, involve themselves in action, get deluded and suffer. Just as it is the `great sky' that appears as the `pot sky' due to the limiting adjunct of the pot, in the same way, the difference between the Jivatman and Paramatman has been wrought by the limiting adjunct of the body. So, it is the body that is the root of all troubles! Once the spirit that pervades it, but which really transcends it, is realized, identity with Paramatman is established. We shall further see the process of achieving this.
The identity between the Jiva and Paramatman is exhibited by sentences such as, `That thou art' – Tat Tvam Asi. Normally Tat refers to a distant object and Tvam to a person nearby. Brahman as Ishwara, who is the creator of this apparently infinite world naturally appears to be `there', at a great distance whereas a person with whom we are talking is `here', near at hand. Hence, the supreme Brahman who is the cause of the world is stated as the meaning of the word Tat (that). On the other hand, the Jiva who is limited by the body etc., is named by the word Tvam (thou). One who is seen in `that' place, time and condition is said to be `that person'. Similarly, one who is seen in `this' place, time and condition is said to be `this person'. Consider a simple example to illustrate the method recognize the identity between Jiva and Brahman. If the person Devadutta whom we saw yesterday evening in the market comes to our house this morning, perhaps in a different dress, we still recognize him immediately as `This is Devadutta'. In doing so, the two times, the two places and the two dresses are brushed aside and only the person himself has been taken into consideration. Similarly, while interpreting the sentence of identity of Jivatman and Paramatman viz., Tat tvam Asi (That thou art), the qualities of the two that appear directly (for eg., being inside the body, being outside; little knowledge and omniscience; little power and infinite power etc. ) should be given up as incidental, and take the person himself who is the Atman\Brahman, the pure consciousness.
Manasollasa is a wonderful treatise on Advaita by Sri Sureshwaracharya, the great disciple of Acharya Shankara. This is actually a commentary on Acharya's Dakshinamurti Stotra In the sentence tat tvam asi, the relation between the words `Tat' (that) and `tvam' (thou) is one called Samaanaadhikarana. Adhikarana means `substratum' and `Samaana' means `same'. So, the word means, `having the same substratum'. When we say, `this is a blue lotus', blueness and lotusness inhere in the same substratum, the flower called the blue lotus. The idea here is that both the words tat and tvam have the same substratum, which is pure Chaitanya or consciousness. Meanings may differ, but the thought remains the same. Also, the relation between the meanings of these two words (tat and tvam) is that of a Visheshana and Visheshya. Visheshana is a quality. Visheshya is that which is qualified. `Blue' is the Visheshana. `Lotus' is the Visheshya. Similarly, the Jiva, being the meaning of `tvam', is the Visheshana. Ishwara, the meaning of `tat', is the Visheshya. This great sentence `that thou art', teaches identity through Lakshya and Lakshana. Lakshana is an implication. Lakshya is what is implied. When a red horse is running, if we say, `Oh! Red is running', the word red implies the red horse. `Red' is the Lakshana and the horse is the Lakshya.
The meaning of a sentence is of three types: Vaachyaartha, Vyangyaartha and Lakshyaartha. Vaachyaartha is the direct meaning as in the sentence, `Bring the cow'. Vyangyaartha is the suggested meaning as in, `Hari is with conch and discus'. The word `Hari' has several meanings such as lion, monkey, Lord Vishnu etc. To show that it is Vishnu that is meant here, the words conch and discus are used. This fixes the meaning of Hari. In Lakshyaartha, t is the implied meaning that is important, rather than the direct. Consider `The Kalinga is a hero'. Though actually the word Kalinga means a country, here it means a citizen of that country.
The Lakshana or implication by which the Lakshyaartha is derived is of three types: Jahad-Lakshana, that in which the direct meaning is completely given up in favor of the implied one. Consider the example, `The cowherd village is in the Ganges'. Since a village cannot exist in a river, it implies that it is `on the bank' of the river Ganga. Here the direct meaning has been completely given up (jahad = giving up). Next comes Ajahad-Lakshana, that in which the direct meaning is not given up, but something in addition is implied. For instance, `White is running'. Since the color white cannot run, it is the white horse or rabbit that is implied. Here, `white' is not given up (ajahad = not giving up), but `horse' is added. The last is the Jahad-ajahad-Lakshana, also called Bhaaga Lakshana and Bhaaga tyaaga Lakshana, in which a part of the direct meaning is given up, but another part is retained. The ofquoted example is, `This is that Devadutta' which we have already seen. In the sentence tat Tvam Asi, both Jahad and Ajahad Lakshanas do not hold good. This sentence, which is a Mahavakya (the great sentence) is to be interpreted by means of Bhaaga Lakshana.
When words coined due to different causes point towards the same object, then, the relationship of these words is one of Samanadhikarana. Just as the `pot sky' is neither a modification nor a part of the sky, similarly the sentence says that the Jivatman- because of the entry (of Paramatman) into the forms created by His own Maya, as the Jivatman- is neither a part nor a modification of Paramatman. This Paramatman is known through the Veda and logic, as being without parts and modifications. In the adhyadina recension of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.1.20) there is this statement: `all these arise out of the atman'. The Gita says, ` In this world of beings, it is My own eternal part that has become the Jiva (15.7)'. Hence the doubt arises whether the Jivatman is a modification (Vikara) or a part (Amsha) of Paramatman. This is confronted by illustrating the above `pot sky' example. If Ishwara consisted of parts or limbs, or were subjected to modifications, He too would be destructible. One who is Himself destructible cannot be the ultimate cause or creator. Thus by logic, we have to concede that He is indeed without parts and modifications. The following Vedic mantras clearly show that He, who is in this body as Jivatman, is really Ishwara or Paramatman. `Having created it, It entered the very same (Taittareya Upanishad 2.6)', `Having entered (it) in the form of Jivatman (Chandogya Upanishad 6.3.2)', `That this (person) has entered here, right up to the tips of the (finger) nails (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.7)'. The following Sruti statements clearly show that the Supreme Self is without parts, beyond modifications and the cause of all causes. ` (I take refuge in Him who is) without parts, beyond all activity, peaceful, without defects and stains (Sve. Upanishad 6.19), ` (The wise see the Original Cause of all beings as) eternal, all-pervading, inherent in all, extremely subtle, indestructible – (Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.6)', `He is the cause, the Lord of the master of all senses; there is none who has generated Him, nor one who is His master – (Sve Upanishad 6.9)'.
The sentence `tat tvam asi' is also not verily devoted to praise as in, `You are Indra'. One who is not Indra (the king of gods) may be praised as if he is Indra. Like that, is the Jivatman being praised as if he is Brahman? No; because in the beginning of that teaching it is stated, `My dear, in the beginning of creation, the eternal Truth, one without a second, alone existed (Chandogya Upanishad 6.2.1)'. At the end again, it is said, `All this has Sat as its self (Chandogya Upanishad 5.8.7)'. Thus it is obvious that the whole topic centers round the Supreme Self.
Nor does this sentence advocate similarity as in, `The boy is like fire'. Nor does it prove a cause and effect relationship as between clay and pot. To prove similarity between two objects, there must be something in common either with regard to physical features or qualities or action. Since Paramatman ahs none of these things, such a comparison is not at all possible. The Sweta Upanishad says, `There is no image of that (4.19)'. Since Paramatman is limbless, cause and effect relation is also impossible.
It is also not a sentence that teaches the relationship between the species and the individual as instanced by `This is a defective cow'. Each of the individual cows has the common characteristics of the species in it. Like that, if Ishwara is the species and Jiva is the individual, then Ishwara will have to be considered as an unconsciousness lifeless entity like the `cowness'. Similarly, this great sentence also does not imply a quality- qualified relation as in, `Blue lotus'. That is, if Jiva qualifies Ishwara, He will become a bound soul. On the other hand, if the Ishwara qualifies the Jiva, the latter will be ever free, thereby nullifying the need for all the scriptures, which are preaching the way to liberation.
This sentence does not advocate contemplation as the attitude of God in images. Upasana or contemplation is not the subject matter of Chandogya Upanishad (6.8.7), wherein this sentence appears. The word `Asi' does not permit of such an interpretation. Nor is the sentence a flattering compliment as for instance in treating the king's representative as if he is the king himself. That the sentence is repeated nine times in the Upanishad, and has some discussions also, does not lend itself to the above said possibility of being mere flattering.
Thus, none of the above hold good with regard to the sentence tat tvam asi. The issue can be finally clinched by declaring on the strength of the Srutis that it is Ishwara who has entered the creation and appears as the Jivatman. Hence the sentence teaches identity by pushing aside the differences brought about by the Upadhis (limiting adjuncts), which are not real.
Just like the awareness of heat in iron, wood etc., which have been pervaded by fire, so also the awareness of the atman in the conglomeration of body, senses, mind, intellect, vital airs and ego-sense, due to the pervasion of the atman in them, is experienced by the ignorant. If Brahman is the Self of all, how is it that It is not experienced? Identification with the Upadhis is the reason.
The five aspects of human personality, which cover the glory of the atman, like sheaths as it were, preventing its full manifestation, are called Pancha Koshas. They are: Annamaya Kosha (the sheath of the physical body), Pranamaya Kosha (the sheath of the senses and the vital airs), Manomaya Kosha (the sheath of the mind), Vijnanamaya Kosha (the sheath of intellect) and Anandamaya Kosha (the sheath of bliss). For realizing oneself as the Atman, one has to practice Pancha Kosha Viveka, discrimination that one is not any of these five Koshas.
The Atman, having entered the Annamaya Kosha, which is the physical body, appears variously as fat and lean, as a child, as dark, or as associated with Varna and Ashrama. Then, having entered the Pranamaya Kosha, the Atman feels: `I am living', `I am hungry', `I am thirsty'. Having entered into the Manomaya Kosha, he feels: `I am doubting', `I am definite' and so on. The Atman says in the Vijnanamaya Kosha, thinking: `I know'. Having entered into the Anandamaya Kosha, which is nothing but Ahamkara (the ego-sense), he enjoys the results of merits and meditations practiced in the present and previous lives, thinking, `I am happy'. Thus, the supreme Lord, though omnipresent, being covered by the five sheaths, which are like armors, appears to be limited.
Just as the sun enters into water and shines as many, so also Ishwara enters the various bodies and appears as many. We shall now see that being cause or effect is only an accidental characteristic for the Jiva and the Brahman. It is not considered as real. In order to point out the moon- say, on the first or second day after new moon, when it is scarcely visible-one may guide our sight gradually by pointing out a tree, and then its branch and then the moon seen in the direction of that particular branch. Though the branch has nothing to do with the moon, it serves the purpose of pointing to its whereabouts. This is called Shaakhaachandranyaaya, the maxim of the tree-branch and the moon. Such a devise, which helps to draw our attention to the truth, is called Tatastha lakshana or accidental characteristic. Here, the tree-branch is a Tatastha lakshana of the moon. As opposed to this, there is the swaroopa lakshana, the natural characteristic, like the brightness of the moon. We say that Ishwara (tat) is the `cause' of the world. The Jiva (tvam) is the `effect' since he resides in the body-mind complex, which is an effect of creation. However these are not real and are only Tatastha Lakshanas. The natural characteristic of the moon is said to be great effulgence. Similarly, the natural characteristic of these two (Tat and Tvam) is existence-consciousness-bliss or sat-chit-ananda. Gods, animals and human beings do not have an existence separate from light. Since Jiva is non-different from light, he is said to be the universal Self. Thus, when the knowledge that the Self is of the form of light or pure consciousness is well established, the Jiva will attain the state of Kaivalya, from which there is no return. If one is established – even by chance (say due to the extraordinary merit of the previous lives, suddenly manifesting in this life) – in universal Selfhood, then, being freed from all sins, he will be venerated in the world of Shiva. That great one in whom the universal Selfhood has become perfectly mature, he is verily the Supreme Lord, capable of taking others beyond Samsara.
Some dualists raise this objection, ` Objects like pot, cloth, and so on, exist by themselves and reveal themselves, not because they are pervaded by Ishwara'. The objection is plain and simple. We do not see Ishwara anywhere in these objects. Hence, let us concede that they exist by themselves and reveal themselves to us because they really exist. This objection can be answered as follows.
The cognition of an object which gives us an awareness not only of it existence but also the details about it, producing the knowledge such as, `I know this small red pot full of water', has been analyzed by Vedanta and is described as follows: the Antahkarana (internal organ or mind) is the subtlest Upadi nearest to Atman. The consciousness of Atman is reflected most in it. The Antahkarana is capable of flowing out through the senses like the eyes and establishing contact with the objects outside, bringing back their image. When this image which is also a reflection of the consciousness in that object, becomes one with the reflection of the Atman-consciousness in the Antahkarana, knowledge arises.
A powerful light kept in a pot full of many holes, comes out through these holes and illumines the various objects upon which it falls. Similarly, the consciousness of the Atman (which is the same as Paramatman) comes out through the sense organs like the eyes and produces the knowledge `I know this object'. If outside objects were capable of independent existence and power of revelation, then all people should be getting knowledge of all objects always! Then, sense organs like eyes would have been superfluous. In other words, without the `I –consciousness', the `this-consciousness' would have been meaningless. Then, the world is as good as not existing. If we consider the present time also, there is no independent reality for objects, which did not exist before creation or will not exist after destruction. Therefore, their existence or reality is established in Ishwara, who is without `pastness' and `futureness'. If the insentient objects of this world could reveal themselves without the help of Ishwara, then all would have been revealed to all or nothing at all would have been revealed. Thereafter, all people of the world would have been similar, being either omniscient or ignorant! Again, if the capacity for self-revelation were equal to both the sentient beings and the insentient objects, then, the power to know and the power to be known should both be equally existent in them. In that case, there being nothing to regulate the functions of the senses, taste and smell should be grasped by the eyes!
It is Ishwara who shines in the two reflections – Jnana Shakti and Kriya Shakti – the two portions of the Antahkarana, which are like the clean front part and the dirty hind part of a mirror. Due to the excess of Satva Guna, the intellect (like a clean mirror) is able to comprehend the reflections of objects, since it is impelled by the power of the Atman reflected in it. Thus, we should understand clearly that Jnana Shakti is nothing but the intellect with the reflection of the Atman-consciousness in it. Though the intellect is a product of all the three Gunas, the suppression of rajas and Tamas by Satva is necessary for Jnana to rise. The Gita says, `Knowledge arises by Satva, avarice by rajas, delusion and heedlessness come into existence, as also ignorance, by Tamas – Gita 14.17'.
All the sense organs, by their connection with the Antahkarana, are like the spokes fixed to the rim of a wheel. The sense organs are able to grasp the sense-objects only because of the Antahkarana behind them. The Nadis are woven into the Antahkarana like the threads woven in fishing net. All the sense-organs proceed towards their respective objects like sparks of fire, through these nadis which have spread up to the sense-receptacles. A nadi is an energy channel within the body that carries prana.
The middle part of the body, two angulas (finger widths) above the anus and two angulas below the sex-organ, is called Moolaadhaara. Resembling the vulva of a virgin, it is triangular in shape with the apex down, wherein is established Parashakti, called Kundalini. She is responsible for Prana (the vital air functioning in five different ways), Agni (the heat in the abdomen, responsible for digestion of food), bindu (unmanifested state of sound) and nada (subtle sound). A nadi called Sushumna has one end of it situated at the apex of Moolaadhaara, the other end reaching right up to the Brahmarandhra. At the root, it resembles a half-cut bamboo and comprises six supports. These six supports are variously described as the six lotuses or the six Aadharas.
Two more nadis called the Ida and Pingala exist, which arise from the two side corners of Moolaadhaara. Sushumna goes straight, and intertwining it are Ida and Pingala. The three appear as a single unit. These three are together called nadi Chakra. From this, various other nadis proceed. Gaandhari and Hastijihvaa start from Swadhishthana Chakra and end at the nose. But during Kundalini Pranayama, when Ida and Pingala are filled with air, Gaandhari and Hastijihvaa come into contact with the Nabhi Chakra and are raised upto the eyes.
The region of the navel, resembling a hen's egg, is the center place of nadi Chakra, from which more nadis have sprung. The two nadis, Pusha and Alambusa spread up to the two ears. There is a nadi called Shuklaa, which goes up to the middle of the eyebrows. The named Saraswati, which ends in the tongue, propagates speech. The Nadi Vishwodari digests four types of food. The four types of food are: Bhojya (what does not need chewing, like pudding), Lehya (what is to be licked only, like honey), Bhakshya (what is fit for chewing, like hard sweetmeat) and cosya (what is to be sucked, like fruit juices). Payasvini, situated in the throat, drinks water and causes sneezing.
There are three nadis arsing out of the nadi Chakra that face downwards. Of them, Raakaa squirts the semen; Siniivaali and Kuhoo are responsible for excreting urine and faeces. The nadi called Shankhini takes the essence of food that is eaten, to the cavity in the head and accumulates nectar there. In total, there are hundred and one nadis. Out of them, only the Sushumna goes to the Brahmarandhra. The Vedanta teaches that by going up through it, one should become liberated. According to the Upanishads, there are two paths by which the soul of a dead person can depart: Dhoomaadimaarga or the path of smoke which brings it back again to this world of transmigration; Archiraadimaarga or the path of light leading to Brahma Loka or Satyaloka from which there is no return. Sushumna, connected to the Brahmarandhra, leads to the Archiraadimaarga. This is clearly proved by the quotation from the Kathopanishad ^6.16): ` There are a hundred and one nadis of which one has proceeded towards the crown of the head. By going up through it, one attains immortality. The others spread out in other directions and they serve the purpose of exit only, but bringing back the soul'.
When a person enjoys objects like sound etc., through sense-organs like ear etc., which are impelled by the merits residing in the intellect, then that state becomes the Jagrat or waking state. It is the Buddhi (intellect), with the Atman-consciousness reflected in it, that thinks it is the Kartaa or the doer. Hence, the results of those actions, Punya and Paapa, reside in the Buddhi. The chief characteristic of Jagrat or waking state is experiencing sense- objects through sense-organs.
When the person – with these sense organs being withdrawn – enjoys the objects created by the mind due to the impressions of the waking state, then, that becomes the Swapna or dream state. The chief characteristic of this state is that the enjoyment or experience of sense-objects is purely internal. Mind itself creates those objects, being impelled by the impressions left on it by the experiences of the waking state. When even the mind is withdrawn, that state is said to be SuShupti or deep-sleep state. In this state, there is no experience based on sense-objects, either external or internal. All that arises in the waking and dream states is unreal, and inert like a blind person. And, it is Ishwara that shines in all beings in the form of `I'. Ahamkara (the feeling of `I') is of three types: Nirvikalpa (without any modification), Suddha (pure) and Malina (dirty). The Nirvikalpa Ahamkara, which is cleansed of all ideas, is the highest Brahman itself and can be compared to the sky, which is free from dust, darkness, smoke and clouds. At the time of discrimination, due to the elimination of body etc., the pure Ahamkara is seen a little as Brahman even as the sky limited by the stars. Ahamkara is the reflection of the Atman in the Buddhi. When this is absolutely pure, it is identical with the Brahman. Like the sky enveloped in darkness and offering no space, the dirty Ahamkara appears impure due to the contact with the body, the senses etc. the total identification with the body, the sense organs, the mind etc., leaves practically no scope to discern the Atman in the Ahamkara. When the Jiva wakes up to the sense of his being Ishwara, he will become omniscient and the doer of all. Ishwara, who had been excessively deluded by Maya, shines by knowledge. By meditation on the Ahamkara, which is without modifications, the Atman knowledge shines. Discriminative knowledge frees the Ahamkara from Maya. Meditation on its true nature fully manifests the Atman. When the covering called Avidya is got rid off, this supreme Lord in the form of Dakshinamurthy shines by himself.
Till now, the various arguments against the identity of Atman and Brahman were countered. Now let us tackle various other views, which often confuse and confound people. Let us begin with the Charvakas. They claim, `Direct perception is the only means of knowledge. The four elements (earth, water, fire and air) are the ultimate truth. There is no liberation apart from death since no soul is admitted to exist. Lust and lucre are the only two values of life to be pursued by human beings. Dharma is just go-by. Moksha is not an independent value to be striven for, since it is nothing but death that is available without much effort. Ishwara, the creator, does not exist. If the Atman existed apart from the body, let then it be seen in front of us like the pot! It is the body that is seen as short, tall, youth, child etc. and hence is the only reality'. This is the view of the Charvakas.
Some ignorant people based on the knowledge of experience as, `I breathe', `I live', `I am hungry' etc., think that the prana is the Atman. Some others, based on the experience, `I hear', `I know', say that the intellect is the Atman. Let us examine their views.
How can objects like the body etc., which are inert like stone and hence the non-self, get the knowledge of `I' without the connection with Ishwara? Firstly, this body is not the Atman for the following reasons: Like the pot, it is seen. It is Drishya (the seen) and not the Drk (the seer). It is inert, because it has no life or consciousness of its own. It has a form and anything that has a form is limited. Also, by losing the form, it can be destroyed. It has parts, and hence is liable to disintegration. It is a compound of the five elements. Any compound can be destroyed when broken into the constituent elements. The body continues to be seen even in states of swoon, deep sleep and death. But the Atman is not comprehended then since it is different from the body. If the body itself were the Atman, then, even when in swoon or deep sleep or death, the `I' consciousness should have continued to exist. Since this is not seen, it should be concluded that the Atman is different from the body. Even as the sun is the first cause of all activities of the earth, the Atman is the chief cause for the activity of the body. Every person considers the body as `my body'. None at any time feels, `I am the body'. Lute and other musical instruments do not produce sound. They just manifest the sound that is already there in an unmanifested form. Similarly, the ear is also just a means of apprehending sound. The eye, like the moon, is also just a means of apprehending form and color. People who are deficient in sense-organs say, `I have no sense organ', `I am dumb', `I am deaf'. Do they then have no Atman?
Neither is the prana the Atman since there is no awareness in the deep sleep state. A person goes to the state of deep sleep in order to get rid of the fatigue of the experiences in the waking and dream states. But the prana is still active, protecting the body. So, it means that in the deep sleep state, the sense organs have retired but the prana is still active. If prana were to be the Atman, then it naturally becomes the Lord of all the sense organs. Then, how can there be retirement of the sense organs when the prana is still active? When the king is still fighting in the war, the soldiers will certainly retire! Therefore the prana cannot be the Lord of the sense organs.
The intellect or Buddhi is not Atman either. It is born out of Atman and dissolved into Atman. Hence, this intellect, which did not exist before birth and after dissolution, cannot be proved to exist by itself. The Buddhists claim the sanctity of the doctrine of Kshanika Vijnana Vaada, according to which the momentary consciousness itself is the Atman. They argue that each wave of knowledge of Buddhi or Vijnana gives rise to the next, thus maintaining a stream of consciousness and this stream itself is the Atman. Now, when the second Buddhi (thought) is born, is it still connected with the first, which is in the process of dying and hence still present? Or is it already dead and gone? If the first alternative is accepted, then it leads to the possibility of innumerable thoughts being simultaneously present creating enough confusion. If the second is accepted, one has to concede that something is produced out of nothing. Both these conclusions are logically indefensible and unconvincing.
Till now, it has been proved that the body, the sense organs, the prana, the mind and the intellect – none of these, singly is the Atman. Let us now refute the possibility of the whole group being the Atman. The moment a part is separated from the whole, the whole ceases to be whole. Hence the moment a person loses a limb or a sense organ, he should continue to live as a conscious being. Then what about those born with physical or mental deficiencies?
The size of the Atman is a point that is often discussed by the various Darshanas. The schools of Nyaya, Vaisesika, Sankhya, yoga and Advaita Vedanta consider the Atman as Vibhu or all-pervading. The Jaina school thinks he is of the same size as the body. Some schools of Vedanta like Vishishtadvaita and Dvaita consider him as Anu or atomic. If the Atman had the same size as the body it occupies, then growth and old age cannot come to a child. If he undergoes changes like the body, he will also get destroyed like it. This disproves the Jaina theory. Vedanta considers the mind as atomic and not the Atman. Like the small mirror reflecting the vast expanse of the sky, the mind can reflect the all-pervading Atman. The mystery of an entire world being created by this atomic mind in the dream state is solved by this reflection theory. It is the delusory feeling of `I' with regard to the body that causes the Samsara. This feeling of identification of the self with the body is due to Avidya or nescience. This then gives rise to Kaama or desire, to fulfill which, karma or action is done. To experience its results, more births become necessary. This is how Samsara or transmigration comes about.
The Veda, for the sake of facilitating liberation, has taught that Ishwara has entered inside the beings. By this, Veda is trying to make us understand that we are different from the body and the senses and to make us strive to realize the true nature of the self. This great delusion, called Maya, can confound even those good at disputation. Doubts and disputes will continue as long as Brahman is not realized, since Maya will then be acting in full swing. It gets dissolved immediately after realizing the Brahman, which is eternal auspiciousness.
Consider some doubts! If it is averred that this world is established in Ishwara in the waking state also, just as it was established in him in the dream state, then: In the deep sleep state, what appears to whom? In that state, who is the being that is constant? This is the objection raised by the Sunyavadins, nihilists among Buddhists. This is funny, but listen to their views: `Everything is momentary and void. Each and everything is born in one moment, stays for one moment and is destroyed in the next moment. Everything is self-comprehending i.e. there is no division of the knower and the known. The bodies of the beings are assemblages of the five Skandhas. These Skandhas are: Roopa skandha, Vijnana skandha, Sanjnaa Skandha, Samskara Skandha and Vedanaa Skandha. The objects and sense organs are called Roopa skandha since they are `formed' (Roopa=form) in the mind. Knowledge of the sense-objects and sense organs is christened as Vijnana skandha. Name, quality, action, species and knowledge of specialty – this is the fivefold aspect of the Samjnaa Skandha. For the cows, the `name' is stated to be`cow'. The `species' is `cowness', which is inherent in all cows. `Quality' is whiteness etc. `Actions' are referred to when we say, `It goes' etc. `Knowledge of the specialty is of this form: `This animal has horns, four legs and a tail'. Thus, the Samjnaa Skandha is stated to be limited to these five. Attachment, as also merit and demerit are called Samskara Skandha. Happiness and misery, as also liberation is named as Vedanaa skandha. Verily, apart from these five Skandhas, no other Atman exists at all. Nor is there any creator called Ishwara at all. The world contains in itself all the excellence. In other words, the various processes in this world, like creation or regulation, take place all by themselves. The world is born out the Skandhas and Paramanus, which are of momentary existence. World of the succeeding moment arises out of the world of the preceding moment'. This is what the Buddhists propose.
Now, remembrance is actually `re-cognition', cognition of something that has already been cognized. If none existed during the deep sleep state and it was all void according to the Buddhists, then who is it that recognizes himself as, `It is I who slept' after waking up? Devadutta's previous experiences can be remembered or re- cognized by Devadutta only and not by Brahmadutta who did not undergo those experiences. So, this proves the existence of a permanent Atman who endures through all the states of consciousness. If void is the cause of this world, then the world itself cannot be proved to exist. If there is none to assemble the Skandhas and the Paramanus, there will be no assemblage since there is no cause to achieve it. In the absence of a potter, the mere existence of clay, wheel and stick will not automatically produce the pot. Similarly, if Ishwara, the sentient creator is not accepted, then there can be no creation. What for does the Buddhist, who denies the existence of the Atman keep religious vows? Since according to him, the `conscious entity' is constantly changing, the `entities' that perform the religious acts like fasting are different, so also the `entities' that will reap the fruits of these acts! If one earns something and another enjoys it, why should the person take all that trouble?
A person engages himself in some action or desists from it, depending on the previous experience and memories of pleasure or pain. Actions giving pleasure or pain are repeated, others are given up. This is possible only if the continuity of the personality is accepted, which is what Pratyabhijnaa or re-cognition indicates. If this Pratyabhijnaa is an illusion, then no continuity of activities is possible in this world.
Giving room is an essential act of Akasha (space or ether), which proves its existence. In the same way, being a doer, knower etc., are the essential acts that prove the existence of the Atman. Because the Atman is a conscious independent entity, therefore, he can think and act. Conversely, because a person can think and act independently, therefore he is a conscious entity, the Atman. Acts of thinking and doing proceed from the awareness of oneself first as a conscious entity. Because the Atman is of the nature of truth, knowledge and bliss, even at the time of deep sleep, he is recognized through the statement, `I slept happily'! Being a knower and doer, based on which the existence of the Atman was proved, is an obvious fact in the waking state and to a lesser extent, in the dream state also. But what about the dreamless sleepless state? Since there is remembrance of the deep sleep experience (Pratyabhijnaa) after waking up, the existence of consciousness is proved; hence the existence of the Atman also. Awareness of himself (Jnana) and feeling of joy (Sukha) even without the existence of and contact with a second object, prove that he is Satya – Jnana – Sukhatmaka.
Karma is the object of action. Kartru is the agent of the action. When the effect of the action of an object is upon the agent itself, the usage is called Karma Kartari Prayoga. For eg., `Rice is cooked'. Here, in the process of re-cognition, after deep sleep, the person who recognizes and the person recognized are both the same. How is this possible? Because, the Atman is self-revealing. When we say, `I see', `I go' and so on, it is obvious that the rel `I', the Atman, which is separate from the body, the senses, the mind etc., and acting as their Lord, that is doing all this. This fact can be discovered by Viveka or Vichaara (discrimination) as taught in the Srutis by the enlightened sages.
It is because of the great deluding power of the Lord, Maya, that the materialists, Buddhists and others, who, though interested in knowing the truth, could not know it! When this Maya is dispelled by the grace of their Lord, the Atman who is ever present automatically shines. It is the Atman who is beyond the three states of consciousness, namely waking, dream state and the state of deep sleep. It is he who is free from all defects like attachment, aversion or delusion. He is the one who can be compared to the seed of the banyan tree. This seed is extremely small, but produces a mighty banyan tree. Similarly, the Atman is extremely fine and subtle, but is capable of manifesting this apparently limitless universe. The Atman is without parts or modifications. Anything that has parts or gets modified is liable to destruction. Since the Atman is eternal, he is partless and without modifications. He is the unmanifest. He cannot be comprehended by the mind like the other objects. He is full and all-alone. The Atman inside is the Supreme Lord of the outside world also.
Words have been coined to describe experiences got through the senses and the mind. Since the nature of the Atman is beyond the ken of sense-experiences, it cannot be grasped by the ordinary, impure mind nor described through words.
We already proved that the Atman is both the material cause and the efficient cause of the world. Hence, from the standpoint of this world of names and forms, which constantly undergoes changes, the Atman is Savikalpa (with changes). But, when the Upadhis (limiting adjuncts) like the body etc., are ruled out or negated, he shines in his own glory as Nirvikalpa (changeless). If a person considers Brahman as non-existing, then he himself will become verily non-existent. If he knows Brahman as existing, then people know him as existing. Whatever be the state, the sense of `I' inside does not change. `I who was a child, am now an old man', `I who had slept, am waking up now'- this is how the `I consciousness' persists through all the states.
The knowledge, `that is that', with regard to any object perceived previously, and being perceived now, is said to be Pratyabhijnaa or recognition. Just as, after eliminating the different place, time, shape etc., which are incidental, the same object which is inherent is described as, `This is that', in the same way, after eliminating `little knowledge' etc., brought about by the contact of Maya, the knowledge that the Atman is omniscient etc., is Pratyabhijnaa or recognition of the Atman. The young one of an animal proceeds to drink the milk of its mother by itself, because of the remembrance of the experience of the previous lives. Because it is not possible for a newborn baby to drink the milk of its mother's breast without the remembrance of a previous experience, therefore, it is concluded that the Atman is eternal even in different bodies. Hence the wise should Pratyabhijnaa as a means of knowledge. It is to be included under the category of Pratyaksha (direct perception) itself.
The Atman, who exists at the previous time of experience and subsequent time of remembrance, recollects the object, which is in himself as an impression. Let us hear more objections from the dualists. `If mere remembrance of objects is described as Pratyabhijnaa, then how can remembrance attain the status of a valid source of knowledge with regard to the permanence of the Atman? Pratyabhijnaa is a form of memory. At the time of remembering an object, the object is not directly present. Nor is its experience present since it has disappeared after the withdrawal of the sense organ from that object. Inference about the existence of the object based on certain signs is also not there during memory. There is no simultaneous existence of the object and its experience also in the memory. Any other relationship between the two – for instance, that between a quality and the qualified - is also not seen. Hence memory cannot be accepted as a valid source of knowledge. Then, even remembering the object meant by a name, will become a source of valid knowledge! Pratyabhijnaa being memory in another form, cannot be granted the status of a Pramaana or a valid source of knowledge'. This is what they argue. We shall confront and refute this argument.
Memory arises from the basic material called Samskara (inherent tendency) which is routed in the Atman and which springs up from the base of the previous experience that has already passed off. Memory reminds us that, even after the direct experience of the object passes off, the Atman who experienced that object is eternal. For example, a king who has renounced the world in old age may think thus: `I who enjoyed the kingdom of wealth, elephants, horses etc. earlier, am now enjoying this peaceful atmosphere of the Himalayas on the banks of the river Mandakini!'
Not all memories are accepted as valid sources of knowledge. It is only aspect, the Pratyabhijnaa, that is accepted so. If this is not accepted, the continuity of the Atman through the various experiences, cannot be accounted for. When the object disappears and when the experience also goes out of existence, the Atman who never disappears, remembers the object, which is resting in Himself as Samskara or impression. Irrespective of the object and the experience coming and going, the being who experiences is always present.
The ignorance of the Atman of the inquirers has been brought about by the darkness of Maya. Like shade and light of the sun, Maya and knowledge are two powers of the Lord. Maya covers all. Vidya uncovers the truth that the real or essential nature of the Jiva is indeed the Atman or Ishwara. Verily, it is Pratyabhijnaa that proves the validity of all means of knowledge. What we have to follow is that Pratyabhijnaa is not just `re-cognition', an aspect of memory. It is really the reflection of the witness-consciousness (Sakshi- Chaitanya) in the mind. Maya produces the dichotomy as `Ishwara is different and I am different'. The memory that arises in the form, `I am Ishwara', after dispelling Maya by Vidya or knowledge, is Pratyabhijnaa. Ishwara, who was covered by the veil of Maya and hence who shone very little, now shines brightly like the sun, when the veil is removed completely. So, what Vidya does is just to remove the veil and nothing more. It does not produce the Atman-consciousness. The way ignorance hides the reality of an object and the way it is removed, revealing it, are both Anivarchaneeya, beyond words and mysterious!
Just as due to illusion, one moon is seen in water as many, a fierce serpent in a harmless rope, a magical city in the all-pervading sky, water of mirage in bright sunlight, similarly the world which is without reality as it were, is superimposed on the Atman out of delusion. When the ignorance is destroyed, the truth, which is, as always, self-luminous, of the form of existence itself and bereft of both illusion and its negation, is recognized. When the limiting adjunct, such as the body etc., is shaken off, the Atman verily, becomes Ishwara. It is to prove conclusively that Pratyabhijnaa is a valid means of knowledge that the Vedas have described other means of knowledge such as Smriti, Pratyaksha etc.
It may be useful here to discuss briefly the various theories of error. Knowledge is of two kinds: Pramaa (valid knowledge) and Bhramaa (illusion or false knowledge). Pramaa is produced by the various Pramaanaas (valid sources of knowledge) and leads to meaningful actions. Bhramaa, on the other hand, arises due to any one of the several factors like ambiguous nature of the stimulus, defect in the sense organ, physiological disturbances as well as mental disturbances. A through analysis of Bhramaa was considered necessary by the various schools of philosophy so as to prevent it or dispel it, leading to the discovery of truth. For Advaita Vedanta, this was absolutely essential since its entire metaphysical structure is built on the theory of Maya.
The ofquoted and most widely discussed illustration of Bhramaa is that of seeing silver in nacre, technically called Sukhti- rajata-Nyaya. The various views of explanation known as Khyaatis may be set forth below arranged in the alphabetical order.
1. Akhyaati (non-apprehension): According to this theory put forward by the Prabhakara group of Mimamsakas, the erroneous perception of nacre as silver comprises two separate factors, perception of the object and remembrance of silver perceived elsewhere. The error consists in non-apprehension of this separateness, and so mixing up the two.
2. Anivarchaneeya Khyaati (apprehension of the indescribable): This is the most accepted view of Advaita. Since the silver is perceived in the nacre, it is not unreal. Since it is later sublated by the correct perception of the nacre, it is not real rather. Hence it is Anivarchaneeya or indescribable. The knowledge that arises out of this perception is Anivarchaneeya Khyaati.
3. Anyathaa Khyaati (apprehension of other than what it is): According to this view propounded by the logical schools of Nyaya and Vaisesika, the error consists in mistaking one thing for other (Anyathaa). The nacre is mistaken for silver, which it is not. This view is also called Vipareeta Khyaati sometimes.
4. Asat Kyaati (apprehension of the non-existent): One school of the Buddhists (nihilists to be specific) holds that there is only Asat (non-being) and that all perception of internal and external objects is erroneous. The non-existent silver is apprehended as if it exists. This is called Asat Kyaati.
5. Atma Khyaati (apprehension of one's own mental state projected outside): This is the view of another school of Buddhists (subjective idealists) according to which, there is no external objective reality at all. It is the subjective idea of silver that is projected outside and seen as if existing outside.
6. Sat Khyaati (apprehension of the real): This view held by the Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, considers all perception as revealing something real. Since both nacre and silver are ultimately products of the five fundamental elements of earth etc., it is this group of real elements that is appearing as silver. This was a brief note describing the various views on the theory of error (Bhramaa).
If, apart from the light of consciousness, nothing at all exists, then, how does one proceed with the day-to-day life right up to the teaching concerning the highest truth? Let us examine this!
Uncompromising Advaita goes so far as to deny even teacher-disciple relationship as a product of Maya. But it also asserts the importance of this stage, without passing through which, such a realization cannot come. The commentary Tatvasudha quotes the following verse of Sankshepasariraka (2.162.163): `Therefore, you have to understand that it is Brahman, having attained the state of the Jiva by Avidya, being established in your own form that has produced this world of sky right up to the earth, by the vibration of your own mind. Again, when knowledge arises in that Brahman by such means as teacher, Veda etc., which are creations of its own Avidya, then to him who has destroyed his delusion by the rise of this knowledge, comes about the establishment in his own resplendent form'. As long as Avidya or Maya has not been dispelled by Vidya (knowledge of the one atman), multiplicity does appear to exist giving scope to all activities of daily life.
It is the supreme Ishwara, who, by his own sweet will, sports in the form of the deity and the worshipper, teacher and the disciple, master and servant etc. He, who is the son to his father, is verily the father to his own son. The same person, because of the difference of words, is imagined to be different. Therefore, while determining the nature of the highest truth, it should be remembered that effulgence alone exists and that appearance of distinctions is an illusion, imagined in the Atman due to Maya. Illusion means `liable to be dispelled'. When perfect knowledge arises, even the teacher, the disciple, the teaching etc., appear like a dream. Like the icon of a deity, a picture or a reflected image, the Vedanta also, though itself unreal, teaches about a real object. The icon is not the deity. But, the deity accepts the worship of its icon and grants the boons asked for by the worshipper. A picture of a tiger is not the tiger itself. But it can give not only an idea of it, but may even produce fear in the minds of children. The mirror image helps to know if our face is clean and we clean it if needed. Similarly, Vedanta also helps us to know and attain our Atman.
All this activity is a display of Maya. The waking up to the reality of the Atman dispels this Maya, which is like deep sleep. Maya is stated to be the name of that appearance, which is incomprehensible to logical thinking. Being seen, it is not unreal; being sublated, it is not real either. Like the dark shadow of the sun, this Maya is not different from the Effulgence. Because it is insentient, it is not identical with it. Nor does it comprise of both because of mutual contradiction. The shadow, which is dark, is completely different from the sun who is all-light. Similarly is Maya different from the Atman, the effulgence? No. Then is it identical? No, because Maya is insentient whereas Atman is consciousness itself. Then, is it both identical and different? No, because two opposite qualities cannot exist in the same object. It will be interesting to quote here, the Vivekachudamani, a very popular work by Sri Acharya, which gives a highly poetical description of Maya: `Avidya (nescience) or Maya, called also the "undifferentiated", is the power of the Lord. She is without beginning, is made up of the three Gunas and is superior to the effects. She is to be inferred by one of clear intellect only from the effects she produces. It is she who brings forth this whole universe (108)'.
`She is neither existent nor non-existent nor partaking of both characters; neither same nor different nor both. Neither composed of parts nor an indivisible whole nor both. She is most wonderful and cannot be described in words (109)'.
Since this Maya has no parts that have caused it to come into existence (Maya is accepted to be begginningless by Vedanta), it cannot be said to have parts. Nor is it partless since it has parts in its effects. It is the cause that appears as effects. This Maya, who appears when discrimination disappears, verily deceives the Jivatman by her unreal dalliances. Some do not wish to cut down its roots. In their case, how can the liberation of the mind come about? It is the mind full of Vaasanas or impressions carried over from previous lives that causes bondage. Hence liberation comes by Manolaya, the dissolution of mind completely. All the three states of mind, viz., waking, dream and deep sleep, being the primary causes of the delusion of multiplicity, rotate like a wheel. As long as the mind exists in the present form, the rotation of its three states cannot be avoided. In these states, multiplicity is noticed, giving rise to responses and reactions, adding fresh Vaasanas to the arsenal mind. Thus, bondage is perpetuated. Though there is no perception of duality in the deep sleep state, Avidya continues to exist in the seed form.
The mind performs actions and is also bound, due to these states. The supreme Atman, who is other than this mind, is only a witness of the mind. Actually it is the Jiva, a reflection of the Atman in the mind that is meant here. Let me quote a verse from the Brahmabindu Upanishad: `For human beings, it is the mind that is said to be the cause of bondage when attached to sense objects, cause of liberation when freed from them'. Consider this verse from Kathopanishad: `Just as the sun, the eye of the world, is not tainted by the external defects of objects seen by the eye, even so, the one Atman, the inner self of all beings, is not tainted by the sorrows of the world, since he is outside them'. The very fact that we can analyze our three states of consciousness shows that we are the witnesses of our mind.
Just as the sun is not bound by the actions of the living beings, so also, the Atman, being the witness, is not bound by the actions of the mind. Living beings perform good, bad or indifferent actions in the light of the sun. But he is not responsible for that. Similarly, the mind acts impelled by the consciousness of the Atman. The Atman being only a witness, is never affected by these actions. That the Atman performs actions, is bound or is liberated, is only a figurative conception, a mere fantasy. When a red hibiscus flower is kept near a crystal, the latter appears to have become red. When the former is removed, the latter becomes clear again. To say that the crystal became red and then was freed from that color is only a figurative conception or a fantasy. Similarly in this case also.
The sun appears to be covered by smoke, clouds, dust and fog, though he is untouched by them. Similarly, the Atman also appears to be covered by Maya, though he is untouched by it. A boy circling round a pillar in play, sees the world also as circling and the sky as consisting of a number of moons. Similarly, the Jiva being deluded by Maya due to the influence of past impressions, sees this world full of various forms and activities. The sun, due to reflection in water, appears to be many and also shaking. Similarly, the Atman, due to reflection in the mind, appears to undergo transmigration.
He, who has emptied his mind of all sense objects through the practice of yoga, that person, retiring from the illusionary world, becomes a Jivanmukta immediately. The yoga that we speak here is actually Nidhidhyasana – contemplation on the Atman. Living in this world had been necessitated by desires and attachments. When these disappear, there is nothing to bind him to the world. Rising of the Atma Jnana and liberation are simultaneous. There is no time lag between them. It should be noted that liberation is not something that can be obtained only after death. If that was so, the state of Jivanmukta was impossible!
The Lord, out of Maya, became two birds united in friendship. Enjoying the one Maya, though himself one, became many as it were. Thus declare the Vedas. The ideas contained in two well-known Upanishads have been brought together here. They are: `Two birds, united in friendship, have taken refuge in the same tree. Between them, one bird is eating the tasty fruit while the other, without eating, is looking on (Mundaka – 3.1)'. `A he-goat is lying with a she-goat of three colors (red, white and black), who has given birth to several young ones similar to her, enjoying her. Another he-goat, after having enjoyed her, has given her up (Sveta – 4.5)'. In both these verses, the reference is to a bound soul and a free soul. `Fruit' is the fruit of karma. `Ajaa', which normally refers to a she-goat, also means the `unborn' i.e. Prakriti or Maya, which is begginningless. The `young ones' are the created objects. The three colors refer to the three Gunas.
It is now time to examine how this Maya can be dispelled. The answer is contemplation on Ishwara. Out of the thirty-six principles, which are like forms of the supreme Lord, eight forms are directly perceived by all. The agama Shastra enumerates the total principles of creation as thirty-six. Since it is Ishwara who has `evolved' into this creation, all these principles are his Moortis or forms. A well- known verse defines these forms of Shiva thus: `These are the eight forms of Shiva – water, fire, the sacrificing priest, sun, moon, sky, air and earth'. Since the mind cannot quickly apprehend the immeasurable principles, the Guru (here the guru is Sri Shankaracharya or Lord Mahadeva himself) is teaching meditation on the eight forms of the Lord who is the Self of all.
The meditator or Upasaka should imagine the identity between the five elements in his body and the cosmic elements. He should merge his Prana and Apana, the two vital airs in his body, with the sun and the moon. He should consider himself as identical with Parameshwara, the supreme Lord. This meditation of identity with the Lord will gradually lead to the experience of that identity. The area of operation of the individual mind is within this individual body only. Therefore, the meditator should contemplate on this world, which has Ishwara for its self, as his own body. To transcend the body-consciousness and rise to identity with Ishwara, the path lies through the body itself, by the meditation prescribed here.
The seven worlds starting from BhooH or earth are said to be situated in the cosmos. They reside in the seven Chakras starting from the Moolaadhaara and ending in the Brahmarandhra. One should meditate that the seven worlds exist in the seven Chakras. The backbone is said to be the great Meru, the various other bones the Kula mountains, the nadis Pingala and Ida respectively, the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. The Sushumna nadi is said to be the river Saraswati. Other nadis are the other holy rivers. The seven dhatus (skin, blood, muscles, fat, bones, marrow and semen) are the islands. Sweat, tears and other excretions are the seven seas. Kalagni, the fire that engulfs the world at the time of dissolution, resides in the Moolaadhaara. The Vaadavaagni or the fierce fire residing in the oceans is in the midst of the bones. The Vidyutagni or the fire of lightening is in the Sushumna and Paarthivaagni or the fire in the depths of the earth is in the navel. The fire of the sun is established in the heart and the full-moon in the skull. The eyes, as also the other senses, are said to be stars. Just as the worlds are sustained by the winds, so also, the body is sustained by the ten kinds of Pranas. The prana, in the form of the sun, having reached Ida and Pingala which have risen from Moolaadhaara, and going out through the two nostrils, disappears at a distance of twelve angulas.
The same prana, in the form of moon, enters into the body from a distance of eight angulas, through the two nadis. Impelled by it, the apana excretes faeces, urine, wind and semen. The Udana, taking the combined form of fire and moon, reaching the passage of Sushumna rises up to the Brahmarandhra, growing all the while. The Udana actually becomes active during Utkraanti or the Jiva leaving the body at the time of death. The Vyaana, always spreads the essence of the food that is eaten in the body. The Samaana however, is always engaged in maintaining the heat of the body. The Naaga causes hiccups, Koorma causes the eyelids to open and close, Krikara produces sneezing and Devadutta, yawning. The Dhananjaya causes obesity and does not give up even a dead person! The Akasha is responsible for space both inside and outside the body.
The sun and the moon who regulate time, are the Prana and Apaana of the embodied beings. The supreme Lord is the Jiva or the witness. In contemplating the eightfold form of the supreme Lord by identifying the various parts of the body with their cosmic counterparts, the mind has played a very important part. But this gradually takes the contemplator to the state beyond the mind.
The disciplines, which can be achieved through the mind, are said to be the Yamas. These are:
1. Peace of mind – absence of distractions and excitement
2. Contentment - with regard to the things of the world, to be satisfied with whatever chance brings
3. Silence – controlling the tendency to speak unnecessarily
4. Control of sense organs – keeping all the ten sense organs, the five of knowledge and five of action, under one's mastery
5. Compassion – not going against any living beings, but helping them
6. Politeness – Dakshinya may also mean efficiency in action
7. Faith in things ordained by the scriptures
10. Forgiveness – towards even those who try to harm.
11. Purity of emotions.
14. Remembrance – remembering the intrinsic defects in birth, death, old age, disease, sorrow etc. This helps in acquiring detachment
15. Courage - this refers to energizing the body, senses and the vital airs even in enervating situations
Bath (physical cleanliness, as also keeping the dwelling place clean), worship (of the God and deities), speaking the truth, repetition of the mantras, oblation into the fire, obsequial offerings (to the departed manes), austerities (of body, mind and speech), giving gifts (to the right person at the right time and place), forbearance (putting up patiently with all pairs of opposites like heat and cold, praise and blame etc.), obeisance (accompanied by the inner feeling as na mama `not mine but thine'), circumambulation (to the deity, elders and the guru), keeping religious vows, keeping fasts (according to one's capacity) and such other disciplines pertaining to the body are called Niyamas.
The various Yogic Aasanas are physiological-mystical exercises aimed at building up one's health and stamina as also rousing latent psychic powers. They are expounded in works like Hathayogapradipika and Gherundasamhita. These postures are grouped according to the deities (Pancha Pretas and Sridevi). I have avoided more discussion of these here. Actually for Niralambana yoga (yoga that transcends the need for all kinds of support or symbols), not having any support itself is the Aasana. Controlling the vital energy is called Pranayama and it consists of Rechaka (exhalation), Pooraka (inhalation) and Kumbhaka (of breath). Preventing all the sense organs from flowing towards their respective objects has been defined as Pratyahara. Fixing the mind in some support (like the Chakras or on forms of the Lord) is said to be Dharana. Dhyana is similar to Dharana, but meditation is continuous in Dhyana. Absence of all movement in the Buddhi due to the perfection of Dhyana is Samadhi. The first stage is the Savikalpa Samadhi, in which the division of the knower and the known persists. In the second Samadhi, the mind is dissolved in its cause and hence no vibrations of any type exist. There, Atman alone shines.
When the mind becomes steady, the prana also becomes steady. One should practice yoga along with Dhyana in order to steady the mind. The emphasis should be on making the mind steady through Dhyana and not indirectly through Pranayama. Bandhas, Kumbhaka (kevala to be precise) and Khechari Mudra are the means of attaining this. When the mind attains steadiness, and the prana enters the Sushumna, the following signs manifest themselves separately, due to the conquest of five elements. As a result of the conquest of the earth element, excretion of faeces, urine and phlegm becomes sparingly low. Health, lightness of body as also fine smell and golden color are other signs. Not being pierced by the points of thorns, not getting drowned in water, nor sinking in quagmire, forbearance of hunger, thirst etc., are the signs of the conquest of water element. Consuming large quantities of food and water, bearing the heat of sun and fire, clairvoyance, clairaudience, these are the signs of conquering the fire element. Hopping like a frog on the ground, flying in the sky etc., are some of the signs of conquest over air element. Knowledge of the past, present and the future, powers like Anima etc., are the signs of conquest of Akasha element.
When the prana enters the Sushumna nadi, we hear eight kinds of sounds: those of bell, kettle-drum, conch, sea waves, lute, flute and cymbals. The Sadhaka perceives the form of Ishwara, shining brightly like the fire and the lightening. As many times a man breathes in a day, so many yojanas does the sun move in the sky during each breathing of man. A man breathes 21,600 times per day of twenty-four hours. So, the sun moves a distance of 21,600 yojanas (each yojana being roughly equal to eight and a half miles) during the period taken by one breath i.e. 4 seconds. This works to nearly 46,000 miles per second. In order to live in the body, the Atman repeats the mantra, `So ham' – `I am he', 21,6000 times per day. This mantra, when the letters `sa' and `ha' are elided and the rules of the Poorvaroopa sandhi are applied, becomes Pranava.
The Pranava consists of the letters – a, u, ma, bindu and nada. The chanting of this syllable will lead to the indestructible (Akshara) result of knowledge of Atman. Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Ishwara and Sadashiva are respectively the deities of these letters of Pranava.