Four human goals called purushArthas are kama, artha, dharma, and moksha. Moksha is the final goal. It means freedom from rebirth or samsAra (worldly life) because human suffering is part and parcel of samsara. So, moksha also means freedom from suffering. According to Vedanta, our true nature is consciousness that is distinct from mind and body, and further that consciousness is all-pervasive, infinite, and complete. Human suffering is due to our ignorance that our real nature is consciousness, and we are already complete. Completeness implies contentment, peace, and happiness. Instead of identifying ourselves with infinite consciousness, we identify with finite mind-body and suffer. The root cause of suffering is this misidentification due to ignorance. The remedy is Self-knowledge. JnAn yoga is the method to gain Self-knowledge. It is not knowledge of any object. It is knowledge of the subject requiring sufficient preparation of mind to make it pure and focussed. SAdhanA chatusthyAya meaning four-fold qualifications are prescribed for this purpose. One of the qualifications is an intense yearning for moksha. Thus, four purushArthas and four-fold qualifications together suggest that an intense desire for moksha is required for achieving the goal of moksha. A qualified seeker of moksha who undertakes jnAn yoga in the form of hearing, reflecting, and mediating gains Self-knowledge. S/ he is a jnAni and achieves moksha. It means a jnAni transcends human suffering and is free from rebirth and samsAra. Continue reading
Part 2 of 2
अष्टावक्र उवाच –
आचक्ष्व शृणु वा तात नानाशास्त्राण्यनेकशः।
तथापि न तव स्वास्थ्यं सर्वविस्मरणाद् ऋते॥ 16.1॥
ācakṣva śṛṇu vā tāta nānāśāstrāṇyanekaśaḥ;
tathāpi na tava svāsthyaṃ sarvavismaraṇādṛte.
Ashtavakra says: My child, you may have heard from many scholars or read many scriptures, yet you will not be established in Self unless you forget every single thing.
इदं कृतमिदं नेति द्वंद्वैर्मुक्तं यदा मनः।
धर्मार्थकाममोक्षेषु निरपेक्षं तदा भवेत्॥16.5॥
idaṃ kṛtamidaṃ neti dvandvairmuktaṃ yadā manaḥ;
dharmārthakāmamokṣeṣu nirapekṣaṃ tadā bhavet.
Ashtavakra: When mind is free from pairs of opposites such as ‘this is done’ and ‘this is not done’, it is free from the desire of religious merit, worldly prosperity, sensuality and liberation.
Part 1 of 2
Asshtavakra Gita (also known as Ashtavakra Samhita) is a conversation between King Janaka and sage Ashtavakra. Vakra means crooked. Ashtavakra’s body was crooked since birth because of a curse from his father. The Gita has 298 verses in twenty chapters. Chapter 18 has a maximum number of 100 verses. As Janaka is a jnAni student (he is known as Janakavideha) the conversation is of the highest order and most of the verses are declarations of bare non-dual truths from the Absolute standpoint. There is no recourse to reason and explanation. It is tailor-made for a seeker who has got reasonable success in shravan (listening) and manan (contemplation) and has crossed the intellectual threshold and his heart is ready to throb. The verses can be used for nidhidhyAsana (vedantic meditation). With this view, 40 verses are selected with meaning and presented here. One can as well make another set of different verses.
Note: 1.2 means verse 2 in chapter 1
जनक उवाच –
कथं ज्ञानमवाप्नोति, कथं मुक्तिर्भविष्यति।
वैराग्य च कथं प्राप्तमेतद ब्रूहि मम प्रभो॥1.1॥
kathaṃ jñānamavāpnoti kathaṃ muktirbhaviṣyati;
vairāgyaṃ ca kathaṃ prāptametadbrūhi mama prabho.
Janaka asks the sage Ashtavakra. How is knowledge acquired, how is liberation attained and how is renunciation possible? Please tell me all this; O great one. Continue reading
Verse 3.42 of the Bhagavad Gita says that the sense organs are superior to the gross body, the mind is superior to the sense organs, the intellect is superior to the mind and the Atma is superior to the intellect. Superiority also refers to subtlety. Our interest is in the mind, the intellect and finally in the Atma. There are five fundamental elements called panchabhutas. They are space, air, earth, water and fire. The subtle body is made of panchbhutas in their primary or nascent forms. When the panchabhutas undergo a process of compounding among themselves, the gross or physical body emerges. The mind and the intellect belong to the category of subtle body, i.e., made of the five elements in primary form. The Atma is beyond the panchabhutas because It is not a thing or physical entity.
We all know that we are a conscious entity. We also feel so. We are also certain that consciousness is different from the gross body. However we are not so sure whether the consciousness is different from the mind because consciousness ordinarily gets mixed up with the mind. Vedanta says that the consciousness is different from the mind. It is based on the axiom that the subject (observer) is different from the object (observed). This is Seer-Seen discrimination (Drg Drisya Viveka). Continue reading