akhaNDAkAra vRRitti – Some Questions

I have a few questions on the concept and origin of the term akhaNDAkAra vRRitti. Will be grateful for any contribution and thoughts on my dobuts.

1.  Does the term “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” appear in any major upanishads or Bhagavad-Gita? If so, where (citation)?

2.  Where and by whom was the term “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” introduced for the first time in Advaita?

3.  Is the concept “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” an attempt to extend the process of ‘Object cognition’ by the mind as explained in Vedanta Paribhasha to the stage of Self-realization?

4.  Does it occur prior to (and hence causal to) Self-realization or is the term “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” a post hoc  explanation of  a presumed process that might have occurred in the mind on Self-realization?

5.  Does the term have a practical utility for a seeker as a sAdhana tool? If so how?

Thanks and regards,

8 thoughts on “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti – Some Questions

  1. Very interesting questions, Ramesam! Colonel Jacobs’ ‘Concordance’ only seems to give one scriptural reference – to the Ramottaratapani Upanishad (no, I hadn’t heard of it either!) And there doesn’t seem to be any translation of this that I can find, nor even a Sanskrit rendition on the Internet.

    The earliest reference I have in my own archive is from 2006 – from Dhanya! So I suggest that this came from Swami D or Dhanya’s own teacher. I suggest we ask her to ‘enlighten’ us!

    As I said at the outset, I am somewhat skeptical about the whole idea, favoring a more gradual coming to a realization of the truth as the accumulation of intellectual understanding and insight overwhelms the habitual thought processes. One could always argue that a final vRRitti must ‘tip the balance’ but I doubt that it is noticed most of the time. Certainly blinding flashes and the like are usually NOT Self-knowledge in my view.

    Best wishes,

    • Dennis
      Here is a def.(description) from Swami Sivananda. This definition comes from RajaYoga angle but still closer to the ones used by many teachers in advaita context.:
      When the mind thinks of objects and dwells on them, it assumes the shape of those objects. It is termed as Vishayakara Vritti. When it thinks of Brahman or Infinity, the Brahmakara Vritti is formed. The Sadhaka should be very vigilant and circumspect in watching the mind and its activities. He must convert Vishayakara Vritti into Brahmakara Vritti. As soon as the mind drops down from Brahmakara Vritti into Vishayakara Vritti, he should again make the mind assume Brahmakara Vritti. There is very hard struggle, indeed.
      You cannot have Vishayakara Vritti as Ghatapatadi Vritti (modification of pot, cloth, etc.) and Brahmakara Vritti (thought of Brahman) also at the same time. It is Sruti Virodha (i.e. against the utterances of the Srutis). It is against practical experience also. When you try to feel that you are the Infinite Self, the Akhandakara Vritti is generated. It is also known as Brahmakara Vritti. There is no Vritti in Brahman.
      From Mano-Vritti, you must jump to Viveka Vritti. From Viveka Vritti, you must jump to Sakshi Vritti. From Sakshi Vritti, you must jump to Akhandakara Vritti. From Akhandakara Vritti, you must jump to Akhanda Ekarasa which is Brahma Svarupa. This is Kaivalya or final goal of life.

    • Thanks Dennis for your Comment.

      It is also my feeling that the term “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” is just an impressive but hollow concept promulgated and promoted by —— teachers.


  2. Here is a quote from Shankara on the topic:

    “The knowledge of Brahman means only the cessation of the identification with extraneous things (such as the body). The relation of identity with It has not to be directly established, for it is already there. Everybody already has that identity with It, but it appears to be related to something else. Therefore the scriptures do not enjoin that identity with Brahman should be established, but that the false identification with things other than That should stop. When the identification with other things is gone, that identity with one’s own Self which is natural, becomes isolated; this is expressed by the statement that the Self is known. In itself It is unknowable–not comprehended through any means.”
    [The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad with the commentary of Shankaracharya, Translated by Swami Madhavananda, Advaita Ashrama, 4th Edition, 1965. ISBN 81-7505-102-7.]

    Coincidentally, I am just writing on kArikA 3.33 in my Mandukya book and this is on precisely this topic. Amazing sychronicity again!

  3. RamesamJI
    Akhandakar Vritti is considered nothing but Aham Brahma Asmi Knowledge. What is the utility of this Brahmakar/Akhandakar Vritti is your question. Here is an interesting take by Sant Jnaneshwara from Marathi Amrut Anubhava:
    Shri Jnaneshwar seems to take a view that the knowledge which is gained after ignorance is ended is not something entirely different from ignorance and the view that it leads to liberation is also incorrect. He says, `When living, Avidya is the cause of false knowledge (anyatha bodha) and when dead, it arises in the form of real knowledge (yatha bodha). But whether living or dead this Avidya entangles the individual by binding him with the so called freedom (moksha) or bondage (bandha)’ (Amri.III.10-11). But the word `moksha’ is used to denote a state which is opposed to bondage. So raising the objection, `If the freedom (moksha) itself is a kind of bondage (bandha) why the word freedom (moksha) is applied to it?’ (Amri.III.12), he provides the answer by saying, `Can we call him wise who deplores the loss of breaking the jar which does not exist? Therefore, if the bondage (bandha) is unreal, how can freedom (moksha) arise? But Avidya makes room for it by its self-destruction’ (Amri.III.14-15). Shri Jnaneshwar thus concludes that the reality of knowledge which arises after destruction of Avidya, as well as the freedom to which it is supposed to lead, is doubtful.

    • Thanks Shri Vijay.

      The gist of Shri Jnaneshwar’s message quoted above by you is that one cannot destroy the pink elephant that is not there!

      It basically underlines Gaudapada kArikA II-32.

      So do I take it that your answer for the Q. 5 is that the concept of “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” has no utility as a tool for a seeker?


  4. A father and son duo, both of them Vedic Pundits and Sanskrit scholars, answered the four questions as follows:

    1. “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” is a technical term subsequent to Upanishads and Bhagavadgita.

    2. We cannot specify which one of the commentators invented this term first but it has later become very popular.

    3. It is correct.

    4. The second part of the 4th question is correct.

    5. The utility of AV is as follows: –

    The fundamental shutra is “athaato brahma jignasaa”.
    This shutra is ordaining Brahma jignasaa. This extortion could be meaningful only when moksha can be attained by Brahma jnAna.
    jnaana can eradicate only ajnaana and nothing else. brahma jnaana can eradicate brahma – ajnaana alone . This implies that bandha is caused by brahma ajnaana. Hence to attain liberation (moksha) one has to have Brahma vishayika jnaana. Since brahma is akhanda, Brahma vishayika citta vRRitti also must be akhanda Akaara only.

    Hence any sadhaka who tries to attain brahma jnaana must pass through this “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti”

    Since a mind , in general is used to have only khanda vRRittis, a brahma jnAna saadhaka should practice “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti”, which when consolidated culminates into shuddha brahma gnana.

  5. The term ‘akandakara vritti’ is mentioned in Ribu Gita, which is a part of Shiva Rahasya purana, one of the oldest upapuranas.. I am not sure if this is the earliest mention of the word though, but the Ribu Gita is very old.

    Here is the verse from Ribu Gita that has this word:

    “Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a still
    mind devoid of differentiation of Self and non-Self even while
    being engaged in the activities of worldly life, is called the state of
    Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in the
    Self when all differentiation has ceased). This is called Akhandakara
    vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the
    body’ notion of those who have not realised the Self.” – (Ch.18, v.40)

    From http://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/Essence-of-Ribhu-Gita-ebook.pdf

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