Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 10.129.4

Alongside Purusha Sukta (10.90), the Nasadiya Sukta (10.129) is one of the most famous Suktas of the Vedas. Known as the Creation Hymn, its fourth mantra says,

In the beginning, there was the disturbance of desire, from which sprung the first seed, which was born of the mind. Sages, searching in their hearts, realised the wisdom of the connection between existence and non-existence.

The creation the Nasadiya Sukta discusses is often believed to be the origin of the universe. However, 10.129.4 does not refer to any ordinary creation but, rather, the illusion of duality. This is attributed to desire in the mind – the first ‘seed’ of ignorance which gives the impression that we are separate. Before this disturbance, there was nothing to realise and no one to know because there was no appearance which was taken to be real as separate from the Self or Brahman. Continue reading

Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 10.90.2

Alongside Rig Veda 1.164.46, 10.90.2, part of the famous Purusha Sukta, is one of the most succinct declarations of Advaita in the Vedas. It goes further than 1.164.46, as it gives a name to ‘what is one’ – Purusha (the Self). It says,

It is the Self who is all this – whatever has been and whatever is to be.

We could easily mistake this for a mantra from the Upanishads or another Advaita text, as it is perfectly in-line with their teachings. For this reason, it is unsurprising that it later appears in the Upanishads, in Shvetashvatara 3.15. Continue reading

What is a jivanmukta’s experience? (Part 3)

In BGB 18.48, Sankara concludes that in jivanmukti, when avidya is no more, logically there can be no action.

“The One Existence, the sole Reality, is by avidya, imagined variously, as so many things undergoing production, destruction and the like changes, like an actor on the stage . . . [Action] is ascribed to the Self through avidya, and it has therefore been said that no ignorant man (avidvan) can renounce action entirely even for a moment (iii. 5). On the other hand, he who knows the Self is able to renounce action entirely, inasmuch as avidya has been expelled by vidya or wisdom ; for, there can be no residue left of what is ascribed by avidya. Indeed, no residue is left of the second moon created by the false vision of the timira-affected eye, even after the removal of timira” – A.M.Sastry

“it is only the one entity called Existence that is imagined variously through ignorance to be possessed of the states of origination, destruction, etc. like an actor (on a stage) . . . An unenlightened person is incapable of totally renouncing actions even for a moment (cf. 3.5). The enlightened person, on the other hand, can indeed totally renounce actions when ignorance has been dispelled through Illumination; for it is illogical that there can (then) remain any trace of what has been superimposed through ignorance. Indeed, no trace remains of the two moons, etc. superimposed by the vision affected by (the disease called) timira when the disease is cured” – Gambhirananda

“Reality is one only, which like an actor, plays numberless roles, assuming attributes like appearance and disappearance due to nescience . . . Through nescience it [action] is superimposed on the Self. The ignorant man cannot wholly give it up. But the wise man, once nescience is dispelled through knowledge can indeed do so; for there is no residue for an ignorantly precipitated superimposition. The double moon, seen with the diseased eye, is not seen once the disease is cured” – A.G.Krishna Warrier

What is a jivanmukta’s experience? (Part 2)

BGB 13.2 provides more detail to BGB 2.69 – in which Sankara establishes that all objects of perception (ie world – body – mind) perceived by the organs of perception, are products of avidya and do not belong to the cogniser. He therefore logically concludes what this means for jivamukti (there can be no jivanmukta per se), where avidya / ignorance has been removed.

When timira is removed by the treatment of the eye, the percipient is no longer subject to such perception, which is therefore not a property of the percipient. Similarly, non-perception, false perception, and doubt, as well as their cause, properly pertain to the instrument, to one or another sense organ, but not to the Kshetrajna, the cogniser. Moreover, they are all objects of cognition and cannot therefore form the properties of the cogniser, any more than the light of a lamp. And because they are cognisable, it follows also that they can be cognised only through some organ which is distinct from the cogniser; and no philosopher admits that, in the state of liberation wherein all the sense organs are absent – there is any such evil as avidya. If they (false preceptiont etc.) were essential properties of the Self, the Kshetrajna, as the heat is an essential property of fire, there could be no getting rid of them at any time” – A.M.Sastry

Just as blindness of the eyes does not pertain to the perceiver since on being cured through treatment it is not seen in the perceiver, similarly notions like non-perception, false perception, doubt, and their causes should, in all cases, pertain to some organ; not to the perceiver, the Knower of the field. And since they are objects of perception, they are not qualities of the Knower in the same way that light is of a lamp. Just because they are objects of perception, they are cognized as different from one’s own Self. Besides, it is denied by all schools of thought that in Liberation, when all the organs depart, there is any association with such defects as ignorance etc. If they (the defects) be the qualities of the Self Itself, the Knower of the field, as heat is of fire, then there can never be a dissociation from them” – Gambhirananda

When the eye is cured by right treatment, the cogniser’s vision ceases to be defective. Similarly non-apprehension, etc are due to the defects of the instruments of perception, and not to the field-knower who perceives. Besides being objects of knowledge, these defects cannot pertain to the perceiver in the way that light pertains to the lamp. Being knowable, these defects have to be cognised by a principle other than themselves; for all disputants agree that in the state of mukti, where instruments of cognition no longer exist, the perceiver has no flaws like nescience. If any attributes pertained to the Self, who is also the field-knower, as for instance heat does to fire, it would never be free from it” – A.G.Krishna Warrier

What is a jivanmukta’s experience? (Part 1)

Dennis: “The body is inert. How can it do anything unless Consciousness is enabling it to do so?”

Rick: “Are fully realized and liberated jivanmukti conscious during deep sleep?”

BGB 2.69, which is considered to be the quintessence of the Bhagavad Gita, and arguably all of Advaita, sheds light on these questions. Three translations of Sankara:

“And all organs of knowledge (pramanas) are so called because they ultimately lead to a knowledge of the Self. When the knowledge of the true nature of the Self has been attained, neither organs of knowledge nor objects of knowledge present themselves to consciousness any longer.” – A.M Sastry

“Surely, after the realization of the true nature of the Self, there is no scope again for any means to, or end of, knowledge. The last valid means of (Self-) knowledge eradicates the possibility of the Self becoming a perceiver.” – Gambhirananda

“Once Self-realisation is won, it is no longer possible to discuss the distinctions between the means of knowledge and their objects. The last means of knowledge indeed liberates the Self from its status as a knower” – A.G.Krishna Warrier

Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 1.164.20

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In exploring Advaita, we may have heard of the metaphor of the two birds,

Two birds, inseparable friends, cling to the same tree. One of them eats the sweet fruit, the other looks on without eating. [1]

The two birds are the jiva (the one which eats) and paramatman (the one which looks on without eating). The jiva is bound, attached to karma and its fruits, whereas the paramatman is free from karma. Identified as the jiva, the ‘enjoyer’, we ‘taste’ the fruits of action (pleasure and pain). Identified with the paramatman, we do not experience the duality of pleasure and pain as there is no attachment to them.

The two birds highlight the contrasting ways of conducting action – with or without attachment. In the jiva, we act to attain certain fruits (desirable outcomes) of our actions. Whereas, in the paramatman, we act without any desire or discrimination between success and failure or pleasure and pain. The paramatman is the Advaitin witness, whilst the jiva is still caught up in the dualistic experience of self (subject) and ‘other’ (object).

What we may not know is that the ‘two birds’ metaphor originates from Rig Veda (1.164.20). Continue reading

Advaita in the Vedas – Rig Veda 1.164.46

This post marks the beginning of a series called ‘Advaita in the Vedas’, where different Vedic mantras are explored for their similarities with the Upanishads’ to highlight how they share the same truth of Advaita.

We start with Rig Veda 1.164.46. Its famous saying, “The wise speak of what is one in many ways”, perfectly encapsulates Advaita. In the mantra, it is explained that the various devas – including Indra, Mitra, Varuna and Agni – are some of the “many ways” spoken of. By understanding the devas as the different names for “what is one”, it cuts through any need to distinguish between them.

When we take the devas as being separate from one another, it may be confusing when we find instances in the Vedas where they overlap. For example, Agni being credited with Indra’s achievements of slaying Vritra and releasing the waters or attributed with Surya’s characteristic of being the light which shines down on all the worlds. The mantra reminds us that these three devas are not separate, but the diverse expressions of what is one which is at the heart of Advaita.

Continue reading

Lewis introductory post

Hello, everyone! I am honoured to join Advaita Vision. As a new writer, it is only right that I introduce myself. My name’s Lewis and I live in the UK. I first came across Advaita in my first year at university for a presentation on the ‘Hindu views on consciousness’. We could use the Upanishads or Bhagavad Gita and I chose the Upanishads. What was apparent was that consciousness was not taught as how I had been. I found it difficult to reconcile the four states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep and Turiya with my understanding because they seemed so different. 

I was determined to make sense of what I had read and returned to the Upanishads for an essay examining ‘how Hinduism informs our modern understanding of the psychological self.’ I understood the Self to be one’s true nature and Brahman to be an underlying reality which is in and manifests everything, but I couldn’t see how the Upanishads pointed to either or that they are ultimately the same. 

I left the Upanishads alone for another four years, when I suddenly had a breakthrough. I was watching a video by Swami Tadatmananda on Advaita and he quoted Gaudapada’s declaration that, 

The world never really emerged, nor will it undergo dissolution.

There’s really no one who’s bound, no one seeking enlightenment, and no one who becomes enlightened.

This is the highest truth. 

He explained that nothing in the world truly exists as it’s merely a form of Brahman and that this was what Gaudapada was referring to. It finally clicked. With renewed vigour, I picked the Upanishads up again and began applying what I had learned. 

During this period I graduated university and I started a Master’s course in the ‘Traditions of Yoga and Meditation’. I chose essay questions to challenge myself to see how well I understood the teachings of different texts. I was filling in gaps and familiarising myself with the key scriptures, but there was something else which kept cropping up I hadn’t yet looked into – the Vedas. 

When one of my coursemates introduced me to the work of Sri Aurobindo, I began exploring the different Vedic devas and their roles for myself. This was towards the end of my course, alongside working on my dissertation. It was during this period I had my first insight into the Vedas. When I looked for what they said about the senses, I found nothing. It was clear that the Upanishads were much more direct and transparent in which subjects they were dealing with. In comparison, the Vedas’ language seemed cryptic. If they were to make sense, I would have to go deeper. 

This is where the Upanishads come in again. In Katha 3.4, it is declared that the horses are the senses and the chariot is the body. Similarly, Shvetashvatara 2.9 states that the mind should be restrained just like untamed horses are yoked to a chariot. I realised that they were telling us what horses and chariots symbolised in the Vedas! With a new perspective on the Upanishads as the culmination of Vedic thought, I had a foothold in understanding and I have since delved deeper into the symbolism.     

Writing topics

All of this leads into which topics you can expect to see from me. My next post will be the start of a series called, ‘Advaita in the Vedas’, where I look at different mantras and highlight their similar (and, in some cases, identical) language to the Upanishads to show how they share the same truth. Aside from this, I plan on focusing on underexplored passages in the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and unpack how they contain the essence of Advaita. I also had the idea of examining references to the Vedas and their devas in both texts and contextualising how they point to Advaita.

There is nothing I would rather be doing than devoting my time to sharing the wisdom of Advaita as it has been my passion for many years, just as writing has. I have plenty to work with so I am looking forward to getting stuck in and thrilled to be on board! 

Verse1 of Drg Drsya Vivek- An analysis of

Verse 1 of Drk Drsya Vivek (DDV) is translated by Swami Nikhilananda:
“The form is perceived and the eye is its perceiver. It (eye) is perceived and the mind is its perceiver. The mind with Its modifications is perceived and the Witness (the Self) is verily the perceiver. But It (the Witness) is not perceived (by any other).”
Analysis
A seeker understands on the basis of experience that the sense organ is the perceiver of the perceived sense object. On the same basis, it is accepted that the mind is the perceiver and the sense organ is perceived. The two levels of perceiver and perceived are validated by experience. In the third level, the verse says that the Self is the perceiver of the perceived mind and there is no perceiver of the Self. Is this based on experience or reason, or a combination of both?
Pure Consciousness (PC) is the other name for Self. As PC is beyond the realm of experience, it would mean that the third level is to be understood intellectually only. However, a seeker could (rightly) say: I experience the thoughts, i.e., modifications of the mind and therefore the third level is also validated by experience. A little probing would expose the fallacy. Who is ‘I’? It is not PC, it is ego, the conscious mind, the locus of I thought. Thus, in the third level, the ego is the perceiver of perceived modifications of the mind. As the mind is inert and the ego is sentient, reason tells us that its sentiency must have its source outside the inert mind and body complex. The source is PC. And it is to be (only) intellectually understood that PC is the perceiver of the perceived ego and there is no perceiver of PC. It is the fourth level. Please note that in this, ego is perceived.
A guess: The fourth level is merged with the third level ( treating mind and ego as the same) in the verse for the sake of brevity and/or to conform to the requirement of a verse or for a commentator to do the separation.