mANDUkya upaniShad Part 8

*** Read Part 7 ***

Mantra 7

नान्तःप्रज्ञं न बहिष्प्रज्ञं नोभयतःप्रज्ञं न प्रज्ञानघनं न प्रज्ञं नाप्रज्ञम् ।अदृष्टमव्यवहार्यमग्राह्यमलक्षणमचिन्त्यमव्यपदेश्यमेकात्मप्रत्ययसारं प्रपञ्चोपशमं शान्तं शिवमाद्वैतं चतुर्थं मन्यन्ते स आत्मा स विज्ञेयः  ॥ ७ ॥

nAntaHpraj~naM na bahiShpraj~naM nobhayataHpraj~naM na praj~nAnaghanaM na praj~naM nApraj~nam |adRRiShTamavyavahAryamagrAhyamalakShaNamachintyamavyapadeshyamekAtmapratyayasAraM prapa~nchopashamaM shAntaM shivamAdvaitaM chaturthaM manyante sa AtmA sa vij~neyaH  || 7 ||

This (consciousness) is known as the ‘fourth’. (It is) neither (the knower of) the internal (world), nor the external. Neither (is it the knower of) both. (And it is) not (just) a ‘mass’ of consciousness. (It is) not consciousness (in the empirical sense of conscious ‘of’) nor (is it) unconsciousness. (It is) imperceptible, transaction-less, not ‘graspable’, un-inferable, unthinkable, and indescribable. (It is) the essential ‘I’-experience. (It is) the negation of the experience of all plurality of the universe. (It is) pure, tranquility, and non-dual. This is the Self. This is to be understood.

This 7th mantra is possibly the single most important mantra in the whole of the Vedic scriptures; it attempts to ‘describe’ the nature of absolute reality, knowing that such description is intrinsically impossible.

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mANDUkya upaniShad Part 7

Mantra 6

*** Read Part 6 ***

एष सर्वेश्वरः एष सर्वज्ञ एषोऽन्तर्याम्येष योनिः सर्वस्य
प्रभवाप्ययौ हि भूतानाम् ॥ ६ ॥

eSha sarveshvaraH eSha sarvaj~na eSho.antaryAmyeSha yoniH sarvasya
prabhavApyayau hi bhUtAnAm || 6 ||

eSha – This (i.e. the universal deep-sleep state)
sarva Ishvara – (is) the Lord of everything;
eSha – This
sarvaj~na – (is) omniscient,
antaryAmin – the ‘inner controller’.
eSha – This
yoniH sarvasya – (is) the source of everything;
hi – (is) assuredly
prabhava apayayau – the place of the arising and dissolution 
bhUtAnAm – of all beings.

The macrocosmic deep-sleep state is the Lord of everything, omniscient; Ishvara, the source of everything; indeed the source and final resting place of all beings.

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Q.529 Comments on mithyā

Q: Do the Upaniṣads talk about or mention mithyā? If not, why not, when Advaita seems to speak so much about it?

A: The absolute ‘bottom line’ of Advaita is as expressed by Māṇḍūkya Up. and Gauḍapāda’s kārikā-s, namely that there is no creation, no one has ever been born etc. Māṇḍūkya 7 is the final word on the matter:

“This (consciousness) is known as the ‘fourth’. (It is) neither (the knower of) the internal (world), nor the external. Neither (is it the knower of) both. (And it is) not (just) a ‘mass’ of consciousness. (It is) not consciousness (in the empirical sense of conscious ‘of’) nor (is it) unconsciousness. (It is) imperceptible, transaction-less, not ‘graspable’, un-inferable, unthinkable, and indescribable. (It is) the essential ‘I’-experience. (It is) the negation of the experience of all plurality of the universe. (It is) pure, tranquility, and non-dual. This is the Self. This is to be understood.”

Consequently, anything in experience (i.e. dualistic) cannot be real. Yet we DO experience the world. Therefore, it has to be mithyā. No need to specifically talk about it. Gaudapada does, in fact, in Chapter 2, which is called ‘Vaitathya Prakaraṇa’. Vaitathya is essentially a synonym for mithyā. (My book ‘A-U-M’ is all about this – https://www.advaita.org.uk/extracts/a_u_m_unreal.html).

Ṥaṅkara also talks about it in BSB 1.4.19; 2.1.14; bhāṣya on Mand. Up. 7; Gaud.  kārikā 4.9 and Vivekacūḍāmaṇi 194 -5 (ish).

The distinction between paramārtha and vyavahāra is also effectively another way of talking about mithyā. Vyavahāra is ‘appearance’, whose substantive reality is actually Brahman. Every discussion about ‘name and form’ as opposed to reality is about mithyā, whether or not the word is used.

Shri Atmananda (Part 2)

The second of a two-part article by Philip Renard, about the Direct Path master, Atmananda Krishna Menon.

*** Read Part 1 ***

And so it goes on, in a sense, throughout the book. Is this confusing? At first it may seem so, but by really reading what the teacher says, really understanding what the meaning of the distinction is, and what is true in the ultimate sense (which means not being able to separate anymore because the ‘substance’ that makes up the objects being noticed as such), you will be able to see the value of this dance. If you never have noticed consciousness itself (often rightly capitalized as ‘Consciousness’) because it is never an object, it is very useful that you are being pointed out that consciousness itself can indeed be recognized and realized. Without being pointed out, it is possible that you keep looking over consciousness itself because of your habituation to objects. Atmananda himself says the following about the apparent two approaches:

During the period of preliminary investigations in the study of Vedanta, you are asked to try to separate body and mind from the ‘I’-Principle. It is only to make you understand the relative values of the terms. Such a separation is not really possible; because, separated from the ‘I’-Principle, the other two do not exist at all. Therefore they are really nothing but the ‘I’-Principle. Vedanta asks you only to recognize this Truth.

   From the position of Consciousness one can say that everything else is not. But from no position can you say that Consciousness is not. Because one has to be conscious of the Truth of that very statement before making it. Therefore Consciousness stands as the background of even that statement.

   Hence even the statement that ‘Consciousness is not’ only proves that Consciousness IS. Therefore Consciousness is self-luminous and permanent.8

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Shri Atmananda (Krishna Menon)

One of the greatest teachers of the twentieth century
by Philip Renard

I am pleased to present the first of a two-part article from Philip Renard, about the Direct Path master, Atmananda Krishna Menon. See Philip’s lineage at https://www.advaita.org.uk/teachers/atmananda_parampara.htm

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It is a pity that until this day the great Advaita teacher Shri Atmananda (Shri Krishna Menon, called Gurunathan by his disciples) remains a rather unknown figure to many people. With this article I hope to contribute to the recognition of the importance of him as a Source for direct understanding of ultimate Truth.

              Two small books written by him, Atma-Darshan and Atma-Nirvriti, form together in fact a modern Upanishad. Upanishads are classical texts that have been added to the Vedas as concluding parts since about the eighth century BC. The term Vedānta (Vedaanta) indicates this; it means ‘the end (anta) of the Vedas’, and is a reference to the Upanishads.1 A modern Upanishad is a collection of statements so definite that the Vedanta tradition begins again, as it were. Not a commentary on something existing, but a text that has emerged from current, ‘ever fresh’ Consciousness.

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mANDUkya upaniShad Part 6

Mantra 5

*** Read Part 5 ***

यत्र सुप्तो न कञ्चन कामं कामयते न कञ्चन स्वप्नं पश्य्ति तत् सुषुप्तम्।
सुषुप्तस्थान एकिभूतः प्रज्ञानघन एवानन्दमयो ह्यानन्दभुक् चेतोमुखः प्राज्ञस्तृतीयः पादः॥ ५॥

yatra supto na ka~nchana kAmaM kAmayate na ka~nchana svapnaM pashyati tat suShuptam |
suShuptasthAna ekibhUtaH praj~nAnaghana evAnandamayo hyAnandabhuk chetomukhaH prAj~nastRRitIyaH pAdaH || 5 ||

tat suShuptam – That (is called) the deep-sleep state
yatra supto – in which the sleeper
kAmyate na ka~nchana kAmaM – desires nothing (not any desired objects)
na pashyati ka~nchana svapnaM – nor sees any dreams.
tRRiitIyaH pAdaH – The third aspect
prAj~naH  – (is called) ‘the one who knows or understands’,
suShuptasthAna – the state of deep sleep.
ekibhUtaH – (In this state), everything is undifferentiated (literally ‘one element’),
praj~nAnaghana eva –  just a homogenous mass of Consciousness
AnandamayaH – full of bliss,
hi Ananda bhuk – indeed the ‘enjoyer’ of bliss.
chetomukhaH – (Literally) it is the one whose mouth is intelligence.

The third aspect of the Self is prAj~na. This is the deep-sleep state in which one neither desires anything nor sees any dream. Everything is undifferentiated; simply blissful Consciousness alone, gateway to the other two cognitive states.

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Q.528 Confusions in Advaita

Q: I am reading your book ” Confusions in Advaita Vedanta”.

I am from India, born in the Smarta Brahmin tradition of The revered Adi Shankara.
The purport of Adi Shankara as repeatedly explained by you is that no pramana or meditation except shabda pramana, teaching of scripture expounded by qualified teacher can give jnana. And this understanding happens in the process of listening once. Repetitions don’t help.

This caused both enthusiasm and later negativity in me. I have heard scriptures being expounded by Swami Dayananda, Swami Paramarthananda, Swami Brahmananda, Swami Parthasarathy, Sri Gangolli (translator of Swami Satchidananendra) etc. But no understanding or Jnana has resulted.

Am I doomed? Or Does it mean I was not qualified enough? More yoga sadhana required for purifying my mind? Of course there can be no doubt that the teachers were qualified. So fault is mine.

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Q.527 Experiencing Brahman

Q: What does this mean: You can’t experience brahman, but everything you experience is brahman?

A (ChatGPT): This statement is an expression of the non-dual nature of reality as understood in Hindu philosophy, particularly in the Advaita Vedanta tradition.

According to this view, Brahman is the ultimate reality that underlies all existence. It is an unchanging, infinite and eternal principle that is beyond all concepts and categories. However, because of the limitations of our minds and senses, we cannot directly experience Brahman as an object or as a concept.

Despite this, everything we experience is seen as an expression or manifestation of Brahman. In other words, all the objects and phenomena we encounter in the world around us are ultimately a reflection of the underlying reality of Brahman. In this sense, everything we experience can be seen as a kind of pointer or signpost that can lead us towards a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.

Thus, the statement “You can’t experience Brahman, but everything you experience is Brahman” is a way of expressing the non-dual nature of reality, in which the ultimate reality is both beyond all experience and yet present in everything we experience. It suggests that while we may not be able to directly experience Brahman as an object, we can still recognize its presence in the world around us and use that recognition as a means of coming to a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.

mANDUkya upaniShad Part 5

Mantra 4

*** Read Part 4 ***

स्वप्नस्थानोऽन्तःप्रज्ञः सप्ताङ्ग एकोन्विंश्तिमुखः प्र्विविक्तभुक् तैजसो द्वितीयः पादः॥ ४॥

svapnasthAno.antaHpraj~naH saptA~Nga ekonaviMshatimukhaH praviviktabhuk taijaso dvitIyaH pAdaH || 4 ||

dvitIyaH pAdaH – The second aspect (of the Self)
taijasa – is called taijasa.
svapna sthAna – (Its field of action is) the dream state.
antaHpraj~naH – (Consciousness is) turned inwards (as opposed to the waking state in the previous mantra, where it was turned outwards).
sapta a~Nga – (As with the waking state) (it has) seven divisions.
viMshati mukhaH – (and) nineteen interfaces.
praviviktabhuk taijasotaijasa is the enjoyer (bhug = bhuk = bhoktA; experiencer, enjoyer) of the private, internal world (pravivikta).

The second aspect of the Self is taijasa. This is the dream state in which one’s awareness is turned inwards. taijasa has seven parts and experiences the dream world via 19 interfaces.

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Q.526 MithyA

Q: In your comment on the article by Arun Kumar, I was confused but intrigued that you define Mithya as something that simply explains the fundamental nature of the Brahman in life and its objects. I have not so far found any dictionary that defines mithya as anything other than false or illusory nor discovered any major scholar-philosopher who thought that Shankara viewed this world as a reality – as real as the ornament in your metaphor. You say that Shankara himself by discriminating between the waking and dream states suggests that novel meaning of Mithya. Is this your own interpretation or does Shankara himself link the ability to differentiate between those states to explain mithya?

You raise the example of how jumping into the middle of traffic would help one realize why this world is NOT an illusion… but it is not convincing enough. Potentially, both a person jumping in front of a truck and his consequent “death” could be perceived as illusory events too. The real question I have is whether Shankara himself viewed this world as illusion and used Mithya to convey that or not. And, if it was an illusion for him, what did he think the meaning of life was? If on the other hand life was Not an illusion to him, as you seem to suggest, what was its purpose in that case?

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