Seven Stages of Chidabhasa

chidAbhAsaSeven Stages of Chidabhasa

Based on Panchadasi by Vidyaranya Swami

Chapter 7.0 “Trupti Deepa”(marathi translation by Pundit Vishnu Shastry Bapat (1908) and hindi translation by Pundit Ramavatar Vidyapati (1912))

Vijay Pargaonkar

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4-4-12



“If a man knows the Self as “I am This” then desiring what and for whose sake will he suffer in the wake of the body.”
(The entire Trupti Deepa chapter of Panchadasi is based on this shruti mantra)

Kutastha, the pure Consciousness, is asanga (without any association) and avikari (immutable). This Kutastha is also the adhisthana (substratum) of “bhrama” (illusions- not to be confused with Brahman) of indriya-sharira (body- mind complex). When it gets associated (the association is only vyavaharic/transactional and not real) with mind through anyonya-adhyasa (mutual superimposition) it is known as Jiva. Kutastha’s reflection in mind “chidabhasa” alone cannot be the Jiva since it has no existence of its own without Kutastha – image in a mirror is not possible unless there is a face behind it. The mixture/combination of chidabhasa and Kutastha is also referred to as purusha in the the shruti above. Continue reading

Science vs. Philosophy – Part II

Y – I can not parse your meaning, i.e. I have no idea what you are trying to say.

Still have no idea what you are trying to say.

X – What I’m trying to say is to point at core insights within Eastern philosophy (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism), particularly in advaita Vedanta – but also in Christianity and Islam in their highest metaphysical conceptions. If you are not interested in any of this, that’s alright.

Actually, whatever science – and its highfaluting ‘scientific method’ – is is shot through with difficulties and controversies, including the sacrosanct falsifiability principle (or dogma). Just read the Wickipedia article on this (and on rationality, etc.) and the respective positions of Khun, I. Lakatos, and P. Feyerabend among others. You must know something about all this already if you are scientifically inclined.

Y – What “core insights”?  There is nothing insightful about making up unevidenced tosh, anyone can do it and each piece of tosh has exactly equal validity, none.

And with regard to your ludicrous and unfounded “criticism” of the scientific method, I have one response, yea shall know them by their fruits.

Continue reading

Panchadashi and Prarabdha

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Another salVo in the ongoing battle over jIvanmukti, j~nAna phalam, pratibhandaka-s and prArabdha – see Knowledge, Action and Liberation and Knowledge, Action and Liberation – AV)

The following is an extract from Chapter 7 of Vidyaranya’s Panchadashi:

indra-jAlam idaM dvaitam achintya-rachanAtvataH
ityavismarato hAniH kA vA prArabdha-bhogataH

[7:174] Never forgetting that the world is unreal and its cause unascertainable, the wise man stands secure from harm in the midst of the enjoyment of his fructifying karma.

nirbandhas tattva-vidyAyA indra-jAlatva-saMsmRRitau
prArabdhasyAgraho bhoge jIvasya sukha-duHkhayoh

[7:175] The function of knowledge of the real is to promote (constant) remembrance of the fact that’ world is unreal; that of the fructifying karma is merely to provide the jIva with experience of pleasure and pain.

vidya-rabdhe viruddhyete na bhinna-viShayatvataH
jAnadbhir apyaindra-jAla-vinodo dRRishyate khalu

[7:176] The knowledge of the spiritual truth and the fructification of prArabdha karma refer to different objects and are not opposed to one another. The sight of a magical performance gives amusement to a spectator in spite of his knowledge of its unreality. Continue reading

Knowledge, Action and Liberation – AV


title figure 1When Ed Witten, the legendary genius Physicist of Princeton, proposed his theory integrating the four or five disparate string theories during the mid-nineties, he called it the M-theory. He did not specify what exactly M stood for.  So Science Communicators went wild with their own interpretations. Some said M is for Mother to say it is the mother of all theories. Others said M is for Meta. Still others said M is for Membrane or Matrix. Some even suggested M is for Mystery or  Magic.

I leave it to the imagination of the reader what AV stands for in the title of this Post.

It can mean Another View, Advaita Vedanta, Alternate Version, Astonishing Vision, Absolute Veridicality or one can even split the two words and pair them to suit to their taste — like Absolute Vedanta or Another Version etc.


First Kudos to Dennis for a smooth and clear explication of a topic usually considered abstruse and difficult in his recent post titled “Knowledge, Action and Liberation.”  He takes off with an elan and panache that only he can. But en route he hits a patch of misdirecting metaphor. The promised destination, alas is missed! Continue reading

The Carpenters Story

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACarpenter’s Malady and Cognitive Consonance –
Rajarajeswari Srinivasan

I would like to start this discussion,with a Tamil verse ascribed to an ancient scripture called ‘Thirumanthiram’ attributed to ‘Thirumular’, considered a yogi who came from the north of India to the south. It is said that this work, consisting of more than 3000 verses formed the basis for the Saiva Siddhantha that developed in Tamilnadu. Only the verse has been taken from the text. A story has been added by me, for explanation.

There was a carpenter in a village, who specialized in making wooden toys. He had a son aged four. One day, the carpenter took his son to the temple. The little boy took a strong liking to the temple elephant and wanted to take it home. The carpenter convinced the adamant boy that it was not possible. But over the next few days he made a wooden elephant of reasonable size using a high quality wood and gifted it to his son. By this time, the child had forgotten his passion for the live elephant, and was very happy to possess a toy elephant and started playing with it, imagining it to be a real one. The carpenter’s father who was watching everything, said in Tamil, “marathai marraithathu maamadha yaanai” (“மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமத யானை”), meaning, ‘the elephant (image) masks the wood’, i.e., “the elephant is perceived and not the wood”. Continue reading

Knowledge, Action and Liberation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost readers will be aware of the Brahmasutras – the third ‘leg’ of the prasthAna traya (the threefold set of scriptures that constitute the authority for Advaita – and some will even have read them! And you may also know that the first, famous sutra is athAto brahma jij~nAsA – Now, therefore, an enquiry into Brahman. It is the claim that Brahman forms the subject matter of Vedanta and has to be enquired into if we are to gain Self-knowledge.

The author of the Brahmasutras is said to be vyAsa, also known as bAdarAyaNa and the purport of the work is to summarize, in an extremely abbreviated form, the philosophy of vedAnta, showing how this naturally derives from the (last portion of) Vedas. (Of course, this does not mean a summary of Advaita. Others have written commentaries on the Brahmasutras and shown how it is commensurate with the philosophies of dvaita and vishiShTAdvaita.)

What fewer readers will know is that there is a similar (much longer) work, called the pUrva mImAMsA sUtra-s, written by the ‘father’ of pUrva mImAMsA philosophy, Jaimini. And, surely not coincidentally, the first sutra in this work is athAto dharma jij~nAsA – Now, therefore, an enquiry into dharma. This makes the claim that dharma forms the subject matter of the Vedas and has to be enquired into if we are to gain liberation from saMsAra. The word ‘dharma’ is often translated as ‘duty’ and the meaning of this word relates to what we ought to be doing with our lives. Their claim is that knowledge is useless, since it cannot produce any benefit. They utilize only the first part of the Vedas – the karma kANDa – believing that only actions can achieve anything and that, consequently, we must assiduously follow the injunctions, rituals and meditations prescribed there in order to attain liberation at some point in the future.

Continue reading

Science and Vedanta (Part 3)

P1030147_hdr_OnonePart 3 of a 3-part essay by Dr. K. Sadananda, AchArya at Chinmaya Mission, Washington.

(read part 2)

What is Absolute Reality?

Vedanta defines the absolute reality as that which can never be negated at any time, trikAla abhAditam satyam. As an example, let us analyze a chair made of wood. Is that chair really real (satyasya satyam) or only transactionally real? When I dismantle the chair or break it into pieces, it is no more a chair. What was there before and what is there now is only wood. Hence wood is more real than chair. Chair is only a name for a form of wood arranged in some fashion to serve some purpose, and gets negated when the form is destroyed. I can do this without breaking the chair into pieces. I can cognitively say that there is really no chair there but what is there is only wood currently in the form of a chair. Chair is only transactionally real but not really real; and what is more real than chair is wood, the material cause for the chair. Continue reading

Science vs. Philosophy (in three parts) – Part I

[Seed of the discussion (in QUORA A young (so I thought) good-natured and apologetic woman made an excellent remark to a leading Question about science and consciousness, though the question was in fact as per the link above. I then tried to support her and, soon after, a rumbustious, self assured ‘pro-science’ male person (Y) entered and started the fray.]

I (X) to the woman: ‘Why did you not just stay with the unquestionable, direct experience of what you are as you stated it? Yes, it is unprovable, to others, that is, but it is truth with capital T. You touched gold, but then covered it with everything else you added’.

— “That which is the subtle essence – in that have all beings their existence. That is the truth. That is the Self. And that, O Svetaketu, THAT ART THOU.”‘ (From Chandogya Upanishad).


Y – ‘Entered’ and made some deprecatory remarks about the foregoing, all in defense of science and against spirituality or metaphysics (for him “making stuff up”):

“science of the spirit”.
Is that anything like engineering of the pixies?

X – Yes, that expression is puzzling and, in principle may be unconvincing, but not so in India, where the foremost philosophy (Shankara’s) is actually neither philosophy, theology, or science per se, but a combination of them all; no compartmentalization there, as is usual in the West. And it is not a blending of spirituality with (empirical) science, which I do not find satisfatory as it is recently being espoused also in the West. It is ‘science’ in a wide, comprehensive sense, definitely to do with knowledge – primarily intuitive knowledge, plus reasoning – for which one needs to be immersed during a usually long time in reading (or ‘hearing’), reflection, and ‘contemplation’. If one studies, e.g. ‘Vedanta or the Science of Reality’, by K. A. Krishnaswami Iyer, one can appreciate that it is not a joke, by any means; this book contains a comparative account of the Indian  tradition of the Upanishads and Western philosophical systems.

Y – You are playing fast and loose with the word “science”.  There is nothing, nadda, zip, zilch, zero in the philosophy of Adi Shankara related to science. it is simply more mystical woo woo.

Make a falsifiable hypothesis regarding “spirits” or regarding Nirguna Brahman or any other religious drivel, and then we’ll talk.

X – If you want to narrow your mind, despite the options it has in terms of getting an understanding of difficult matters, which can only be proven to oneself – not to others – by analysis, introspection, and meditation, it is up to you. The word ‘science’ comes from the Latin ‘scire’ – to discern, distinguish, and this is what, at least myself, am talking about. You write off mysticism because it cannot be proven in the lab or with the tools of empirical science, and put so much stock in the (provisional) notion of falsifiability… again, up to you. That is scientism or reductionism – a narrow view of what constitutes reality, which is immense, ultimately unfathomable.

Y- Your comments regarding the etymology of “science” are terrific, that is frightening, or in this case frighteningly bad.  You see the etymology or the root of a word is not its meaning.  Science has a specific modern meaning that I’m sure you are well aware of, and bastardizing that meaning in this context is self serving hoey.  The philosophy and theology of Adi Shankara has nothing whatsoever to do with science. Unless of course you redefine the word to mean whatever you want it to mean.

And I’m sorry, but the old “narrow mind” argument is simply what gets shoveled out of the male bovine pen.  Having an open mind does not mean simply accepting any old tosh simply because you like it, or because it is part of the proud tradition of my culture or some such nonsense. Being open-minded means being open to evidence.  Please provide some evidence that any mystical experience has any relevance outside the brain of the person experiencing it; if you can’t then any comment you make about it is just making stuff up, and has no more relationship to reality than any other religious rubbish. Continue reading

Q. 366 – Self-knowledge – should we bother?

Q: At the end of the day, what does knowledge of self give us ?

It does not help answer the burning question of why the appearance/dream/mAyA that we are experiencing as humans or animals exists.

(I am not clear on this one but..) It appears that even though one attains knowledge of self in one janma, he/she can actually become a cockroach in the next due to karmic effect, i.e. we are not really liberated from the birth-death cycle.

The only benefit I do see in a janma where one attains knowledge of self is that such a person might lead a life devoid of misery in the mind as they sail through good and bad times (although they may still experience physical pain).

A (Sitara): In Advaita Vedanta we ask the question “who or what is the true Self” because we trust (in the scriptures and/or statements of those who claim to have answered this question for themselves) that the true Self is one without a second, meaning the true Self is all there is. So knowledge of the true Self, i.e. Self-realization, equals the realization that the perceived world is nothing but the Self alone. As to why it is perceived as world and not as the Self there are many answers within Advaita Vedanta and in Sri Atmanandaji’s Direct Path. I cannot sum them up in a few sentences, as they belong to an extended teaching methodology. I recommend, for a taste, to watch an interview with Greg Goode.) Continue reading