pratibandha-s – part 3 of 10

Read Part 2


nididhyAsana is recommended to remove any mental impediments that remain. This may consist of any activity that serves to consolidate the knowledge and fully assimilate the teaching – e.g. reading scriptures, listening to talks from qualified teachers, writing about Advaita oneself, discussing with other seekers and so on. The logic is simple: these activities produce puNya karma which ‘cancels out’ the pratibandha-s.

The vivekachUDAmaNi (267 – ) speaks about this at length:

“Even after knowing that substance (the Atman), powerful desire, which is beginningless (in the form of ‘I am the doer and enjoyer’), which is the cause of the world, does not die. It remains there. What can be done with that? You must do away with that desire carefully, because that is freedom – the lessening of desire. That should be done even after realization.

 “The idea of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ remains in the body and in other things that are non-Self. This is called adhyAsa, and should be given up by the sage identifying himself with the Atman.

 “Knowing the real Self, which is the witness of the intellect and its actions, by this thought, ‘I am That’, conquer the false idea of ‘I am’ in the non-Self.

 “First, give up following the world, then following the body, and then following the scriptures and, in that way, do away with your ignorance of identifying the Self with the non-Self.” and so on… (Ref. 62)

As soon as the person gains Self-knowledge, he/she simultaneously knows that he/she is free. This is frequently referred to as ‘gaining’ mokSha but, as was pointed out earlier, mokSha is not ‘gained’ – the person was already free but did not previously realize this. Thus, liberation is ‘realized already to be the case’. You cannot ‘gain’ what you already have. Therefore, mokSha cannot be a ‘phalam’ in any sense other than figurative. It may be the case that it is used in shruti but, where it is, it has to be figurative.

There is no time gap between gaining Self-knowledge and the ‘as if’ gaining of mokSha. On the other hand, there may be a time gap between gaining Self-knowledge and gaining the so-called ‘fruits’ of knowledge. This is because there may be pratibandha-s associated with the prArabdha that still have to be worked out before the body-mind dies. The destruction of the pratibandha-s is synonymous with the gaining of j~nAna phalam and becoming a j~nAna niShThA or jIvanmukta. If the j~nAnI’s body-mind dies before this happens, then videha mukti results [liberation at death].

The point is that the j~nAnI still has a mind and that mind has had its habitual reactions to situations throughout the lifetime of this embodiment. They are not going to go away instantly, because he or she has now realized identity with Atman. It requires constant alertness for a prolonged period not to react in habitual ways. This process is called vAsanA kShaya – bringing the habitual reactions to an end. Their continued existence means that the j~nAnI will still be subject to moments of desire, aversion, greed, delusion etc. – whatever characteristics were present in the mind before enlightenment, unless they had already been eradicated by spiritual sAdhana-s. It is the function of nididhyAsana to remedy the situation and, once these negative traits have gone, jIvanmukti or j~nAna niShThA results.

viparIta bhAvanA

Another term used in the sense of pratibandha is viparIta bhAvanA. Literally, this means contrary/perverse/wrong (viparIta) impressions or thoughts in the mind (bhAvanA). As noted above, it is the function of nididhyAsana to remove/destroy these by consolidating or cementing the Self-knowledge in the mind. Swami Advayananda of Chinmaya International Foundation suggests that samAdhi would serve the same function so that this idea could help to explain why some teachers point to samAdhi as being the ‘final stage’. If it does work in this manner then, although it would not be a means of attaining j~nAna or mokSha, it could be a means of attaining j~nAna niShThA or jIvanmukti.

He says:

“When these obstacles (pratibandha) of viparIta-bhAvanA-s are brought to a termination, the pure Self shines of its own accord. This is the exact role of nididhyAsana and samAdhi in gaining Liberation; nididhyAsana and samAdhi are not for gaining Knowledge. They are only for destroying the anAtma-vAsanA and viparIta-bhAvanA-s. Knowledge has already been gained by shravaNa and manana – by reflecting on the message of the mahAvAkya-s – but then as long as there are the pratibandha-s (obstacles) of anAtma-vAsanA and viparIta-bhAvanA-s, establishment in Knowledge is impossible.”

He goes on to explain the terms:

“These habitual notions that are contrary to Self-Knowledge are collectively termed ‘viparIta bhAvanA-s’ or ‘contrary notions’ and they have their source in the deep-seated vAsanA called the ‘anAtma-vAsanA’ (the ‘seed’ or ‘causal form’ of the notion ’I am the body-mind-intellect’) – that exists in the kAraNa-sharIra (causal body). As long as the anAtma-vAsanA exists, viparIta-bhAvanA-s will keep sprouting and prevent the birth of brahmakAra vRRitti, which alone has the capacity to put an end to avidyA (ignorance). For seekers who have already completed the first two steps of shravaNa (listening) and manana (reflection), it is this causal anAtma-vAsanA and its effects of viparIta-bhAvanA-s that are the obstacles (pratibandha) to Realisation.” (Ref. 188)

He clearly believes that shravaNa-manana can be ‘completed’ but then nididhyAsana and samAdhi are needed to ‘cement’ the knowledge and gain j~nAna phalam. It appears that he also equates ‘realization’ with ‘jIvanmukti’, since for him the ‘end of ignorance (brahmakAra vRRitti)’ does not come until the ‘end of pratibandha-s’. I.e. he supports the notion of pratibandha-s but confuses j~nAna and jIvanmukti. He also falls foul of the mistake of believing that samAdhi has a place in the mokSha.

avidyA lesha

This is yet another term that might be construed as being equivalent to pratibandha. The word lesha means ‘trace’, ‘small part or portion’ and the idea is that, following enlightenment, there may still be a trace of ignorance remaining in the mind to cause problems. D. B. Gangolli raises this in Ref. 190. (He also mentions other synonyms: avidyA ChAya, avidyA gandha, avidyA vAsanA, avidyA saMskAra.) And he points to a statement in Shankara’s bhAShya on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: “Knowledge and ignorance cannot co-exist in the same individual, for they are contradictory like light and darkness.” (Ref. 8)

But this is not appropriate in this context. It is obvious from our own experience that we may have knowledge of Chemistry, for example, but ignorance about economics. When we are talking about j~nAna, we may be ‘enlightened’, having gained knowledge about the Self. But this does not, in itself, negate the possibility of habit still triggering desires. We can know that satisfying a desire to eat a cream bun will not do our figure or health any favors, yet still knowingly give in to that desire. Nisargadatta’s beedis have already been mentioned. Consequently, this situation is not a case of ‘knowledge and ignorance co-existing’.

D. B. Gangolli concedes that the notion of avidyA lesha is part of the larger topic of mUlAvidyA, the so-called ‘root cause’ of ignorance. This topic is not relevant here and will be discussed as part of the large topic of ‘Ignorance’ in Volume 2.

Go to Part 4

30 thoughts on “pratibandha-s – part 3 of 10

  1. Hi Dennis,

    As I said before, our disagreement is definitional. Your interpretation of jnana is conceptual knowledge; and of a jivanmukta as one who has “consolidated the knowledge and fully assimilated the teachings”.

    However, in my opinion, Sankara throughout his writings is referring to jnana-nishtha.

    Vivekachudamani, v443-4
    “There is no samsara as before for one who has known (realised) the truth of Brahman. If such samsara still persists, it means that he is not one who has realised Brahman; but he is an extrovert. If it is said that this knower of Brahman is again bound by samsara by the force of past asanas, it is not so; for the asana becomes dull on the realisation of the one true Sat”

    “The fruit of detachment is knowledge; of knowledge abstinence is the fruit. That leads to the experience of bliss of the true self, which in turn leads to peace”

    In the commentary on v.420 of Vivekachudamani by Sri Candrasekhara of Sringeri (who is revered as a jivanmukta), he says:
    “For the yogin who has deeply drunk the nectar of jnana, and who has achieved his purpose, there is nothing to be done; if there is then he is not a knower of Truth. If the succeeding things do not arise, it means the preceding things have been infructuous”.

    best wishes,

  2. Hi Venkat,

    You are still not correctly representing my understanding, which implies that you have not quite appreciated what I am saying. You say: “Your interpretation of jnana is conceptual knowledge; and of a jivanmukta as one who has “consolidated the knowledge and fully assimilated the teachings”.

    I disagree. A j~nAnI is one who has had akhaNDAkAra vRRitti. He/she has fully realized identity with brahman and now knows that he/she is free. No more saMsAra. etc. A jIvanmukta is someone who is a j~nAnI AND has effectively completed all of the sAdhana-s that were at least partially required in order to be able to undertake the shravaNa needed to gain j~nAna. Thus, all of the benefits of controlled mind, absence of fear etc. are also present.

    Your VC quotations do not seem at all relevant to this distinction.

    Please (please!) hold off any further objections of this sort until the series is complete. You may find confusions are clarified. Alternatively, you may find another prong for your attack! 😉

    Best wishes,

  3. Hi Dennis

    The beginning of the first para of your article you wrote:

    nididhyAsana is recommended to remove any mental impediments that remain. This may consist of ANY ACTIVITY THAT SERVES TO CONSOLIDATE THE KNOWLEDGE AND FULLY ASSIMILATE THE TEACHING – e.g. reading scriptures, listening to talks from qualified teachers, writing about Advaita oneself, discussing with other seekers and so on. The logic is simple: these activities produce puNya karma which ‘cancels out’ the pratibandha-s.

    The last sentence of your first section on nididhyasana you wrote:

    the j~nAnI will still be subject to moments of desire, aversion, greed, delusion etc. – whatever characteristics were present in the mind before enlightenment, unless they had already been eradicated by spiritual sAdhana-s. IT IS THE FUNCTION OF NIDIDHYASANA TO REMEDY THE SITUATION AND, ONCE THESE NEGATIVE TRAITS HAVE GONE, JIVANMUKTI OR J~NANA NISHTHA RESULTS.

    By implication therefore, the structure of your argument says that a jnani may need to practice nididhyasana, in order to consolidate the knowledge and fully assimilate the teachin, whereby obstacles are removed and jivanmukta ensues.

  4. Hi Venkat,

    Yes, that’s correct. j~nAna comes from shravaNa, although manana may be necessary to remove doubts. jIvanmukta comes from nididhyAsana. There is, of course, the proviso that, if sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti was completed to a high degree prior to gaining j~nAnam, then there will be no need for nididhyAsana, since jIvanmukta will coincide with j~nAna.

    Was your post simply for clarification? I got the impression that you were now going to point out some contradiction in my argument but it did not seem to transpire!

  5. Dennis,

    It is worth considering SSSS’ The Method of the Vedanta. In Section 57, he quotes from Brhad 3.5.1, and Sankara’s bhasya thereon. I will take extracts – you know where to find the full context.

    Therefore the Brahmin, having mastered his ‘learning’, here conceived as knowledge of the Self, should strive to stand based on the strength of the Self. And having mastered BOTH learning and strength, he becomes a silent contemplative sage. When he has mastered both the preparations for statehood and sagehood itself, then he becomes a Brahmin in the true sense of the word, a knower of the Absolute.

    [Note: Only truly a knower of Brahman, once he has mastered learning and strength]

    Therefore even today a Brahmin, that is one who is to get knowledge of the Absolute, first masters this INDIRECT knowledge of the Self called ‘learning’ – that is completes his indirect knowledge of the Self. Then, through the help of the teacher and the traditional teaching he rises above desires . . . having risen above desires, he should strive to stand based on the strength of direct knowledge of the Self . . .
    The phrase ‘preparation for contemplative sagehood means the perfection of wisdom and strength, understood respectively as knowledge of the Self and elimination of all notion of the not-Self.

    SSSS basically is saying that once a seeker has mastered learning, he needs to stand on the strength of that learning, and hence seek to eliminate all that is not-Self. Only once he has done this does he become a true knower of Brahman.

    One could say that this is close to the point you are making – you can have jnana, but you need to continue to practice SCS in order to gain jivanmukti.

    However in SSSS’ discussion above, there is no talk of completing one’s sadhanas once jnana is attained. Rather it is the “Strength” to assimilate and apply the knowledge gained to renounce all that is not-Self. Very akin to BG7.2 that I referenced previously. And only then does one become a TRUE knower of Brahman.
    [VB: jnani]

    SSSS’ Sankara quote continues
    Sagehood is the culminating point and final result of elimination of all notion of not-Self. When this has been achieved, the Brahmin has done all that needs to be done. The idea ‘All is the Absolute arises’
    [VB: ‘done all that needs to be done’ means no further sadhana and implies jivamukta]

    So, SSSS, from his interpretation of Sankara, makes no distinction between a jnani and a jivamukta.

    In his Adhyatma Yoga, SSSS writes about how to derive the strength to stand on the indirect knowledge of the Self:

    5) To practice this Adhyatma Yoga (Nidhidhyasana, Dhyana Yoga, or Manonigraha Yoga), an aspirant, at first, should get ‘Atmaprathyaya’ (meaning, the firm conviction about the real nature of the Self) by listening to theprocess of discrimination taught by the Guru and the Shastra and he must know the process of Manana i.e. method of reflection on the firm ground of intuition and adopting the reasons according to the teachings of the Guru and the Shastra. After this to take a stand in his true nature of the Self and cognise the pervasiveness of the Self in all the dualistic phenomena, he has to practice this Nididhyasana or Adhyatma yoga.

    He concludes: “when one cognises the falsification of the whole phenomena of the dualistic world, including the ‘I’-sense, then he establishes himself naturallv in the non-dual (absolute) Self. This is the final result of Adhyatma Yoga or Nidhidhyasana”

    So nidhidyasana is to apply the knowledge gained through mastering learning.

  6. My problem here is with the idea of ‘practice’. Self-knowledge alone removes Self-ignorance, which prevents realization of ‘I am brahman’. Shankara devotes considerable effort to negating any idea of requiring some sort of ‘action’ in addition to, or in conjunction with knowledge in order to ‘gain’ mokSha. I devote an entire section of the book to this topic (samuchchaya vAda).

    It is however true that one requires both knowledge AND ‘completion of sAdhana-s’ in order to gain jIvanmukta. But this is quite apart from the gain of mokSha.

    I do not know what ‘applying’ the knowledge could possibly mean. And surely one either already knows or does not already know. How could ‘applying’ knowledge make one become a ‘true’ knower? Is one only a ‘false’ knower before performing some action?

  7. Dennis

    OK, forget “applying”, that is my word. Let’s not get side-tracked.

    You need to refer to Sankara’s words in the Brhad w.r.t. “masters indirect knowledge and then strives to stand on the strength of that knowledge”, the latter meaning “elimination of all notion of non-Self”. It is only with these two that one is a “true knower of brahman”. “When this has been achieved, the Brahmin has done all that needs to be done”.

    I am only using Sankara’s words!


  8. Venkat,

    Could you give me the precise reference, please (verse, translator, page number). When you say you are only using Shankara’s words, you mean that you are using Shankara’s words *as translated by X*. During the writing of this ‘Confusions’ book, I have encountered quite a few instances where ‘translations’ are significantly biased by the understanding of the translator! (I am not suggesting that this has occurred here but the danger has always to be borne in mind.)

    Best wishes,

    • Hi Dennis

      I gave the reference at the beginning of my message.

      It is from Alston’s translation of SSS’ “The Method of Vedanta” chapter 3, section 57 (p150 onwards), where he references Br Up 3.5.1, and Sankara’s bhasya thereon. I think you have this book.


      • Hi Venkat,

        If you look back at Part 1 of the series, you will see that I quote this exact reference from Br.U.B (3.5.1) but that the translation (Swami Madhavananda) and my commentary are somewhat different.

        The rest of the SSSS material (and Shankara quotes) really relate to saMnyAsa which, as I have pointed out elsewhere, is a whole other (contentious) topic, which I am about to start writing. So, my apologies for not responding here when you have spent much effort putting together the objections.

        Best wishes,

  9. Dear Dennis,

    I am left with a bit of queasy feeling when I read this piece (Part – 3/6).
    I am certain you do not mean it, but the sense that comes out of it is that :

    (i) there is a well-defined (almost rigid) progressive school-syllabus like curriculum that anyone can follow to achieve “mokSha”; and,
    (ii) there is something more than “mokSha” called “jnAna phalam” that one needs to “obtain” investing further more effort.

    The example for # (ii) above is that of Nisargadatta smoking beedies. He did not have jnAna phalam and that’s why, like eating cream buns, he smoked away the harmful tobacco!

    To the best of my understanding, there is nothing higher than mokSha that Shankara talks about in his bhAShya-s.

    As taught by Sage Yajnavalkya, the “key” element is that the Atman has to be “seen” (द्रष्टव्यः), i.e. “intuitively realized” (2.4.5, brihadAraNyaka). Most of the time the three aspects of studying the Non-dual message, reflecting on it and the deep contemplative assimilation towards that end may happen simultaneously or skipping some steps. The situation of how the message really percolates is more, IMHO, a fluid situation and definitely it is not ladder-like.

    Secondly, I am certain that you are not unaware that the word vAsanA-s is post-upanishadic. However, we do have that concept expressed at 2.6.14-15, kaTha to which a reference also comes at 4.4.7, brihat upa. They emphasize that the realization of the Self comes “When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal becomes immortal and attains here Brahman
    and, When all the ties of the heart are severed here on earth, then the mortal becomes immortal. This much alone is the teaching. (Translation: Sw Nikhilananda).”

    Thus, vAsanAkShaya has to be complete for Self-realization. JMV of Vidyaranya too explains in the same way. Therefore, once the “realization” dawns and the Self is revealed, there is no further “effort” to achieve the understanding. All the “effort” lies only in, figuratively speaking, the conversion of the mediate knowledge to the im-mediated Knowledge (from the mind-memory based vRitti to akhaNDAkAraVritti). IOW, vAsanAkShaya precedes Self-realization and vAsanA-s (if one alludes to that concept), as “attachments,” could act as ‘blocks’ to achieving the “Self-realization.”


  10. I really don’t understand why there is so much resistance to the idea of pratibandha-s. Who we really are is brahman. Once we fully realize this knowledge, that is effectively ‘it’. All the rest of the stuff, relating to jIvanmukta, concern the person – the inert body-mind – not who-we-really-are. (Of course the realization is in the mind, so there is scope for ‘forgetfullness’.)

    I don’t know how one can get the notion of ‘school curriculum’ here. All of the sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti has to come even before one embarks upon the ‘syllabus’! If one does not already have significant mumukShutvam, even that would never get off the ground.

    I am not going to respond to any more comments of this type until the series is complete, because I believe that the later parts may clarify this confusion.

  11. Hi Dennis,

    Since you have been asking to hold off the comments until you post the remaining parts I shall keep this brief.

    You have mentioned that Shravana alone or Shravana and Manana are enough to gain Self Knowledge. To support this view you are quoting few sayings of Swami Advayananda.

    I would appreciate if you could quote from Prasthana Traiya which clearly and unambiguously conveys that Nididyasana is not necessary, just Shravana alone is sufficient for gaining Self Knowledge.

    If you could address this in your remaining posts that is also fine and I shall wait.

    My apprehension is you are entitled to have your own views. But in case if you are not able to substantiate by quoting from Prastana Traiya then it would end up as wrong advice for the readers of this website.


  12. Hi Arun,

    Here is one example to be going on with from brahmasUtra 4.1.2:

    Shankara has an opponent ask: “If the hearing of such texts as ‘Thou art That’ (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7) once only does not generate the realization of the identity of Brahman and the Self, then how can it be expected that even a repetition of that will produce it?” Shankara responds later: “Repetition will be unnecessary for one who can realize the Self as Brahman after hearing ‘That thou art’ once only. But for one who cannot do so, repetition is a necessity.”

    Best wishes,

  13. Hi Dennis,

    Yes, I am aware that you raised that quote earlier. A few observations:

    1. If you read SSS’ preamble to these quotes, it is clear that he interprets a true knower of Brahman to have mastered learning AND strives to stand as the Self. Nowhere does SSS make the point of a jnani having to complete SCS to obtain jivanmukti

    2. Alton, I think you will agree, is a credible translator and Sankara scholar, and nowhere does he mention this differentiation between a jnani and a jivanmukta – which btw is quite an important distinction I would have thought?

    3. Sw Madhavananda even in his translation states (p.341, if you have the same copy):
    “What a knower of Brahman should do is to eliminate all ideas of the non-Self; doing this, he accomplishes his task and becomes a yogin. After having known all about SCHOLARSHIP and strength, which respectively mean Self-knowledge and the elimination of ideas of non-Self, he BECOMES A KNOWER OF BRAHMAN, or accomplishes his task: he attains the conviction that all is Brahman. Because he has reached the goal, therefore he is a Brahmana, for then his status as a knower of Brahman is LITERALLY true”
    So, it seems to me that there are a few critical points to surmise from this:
    (a) A true knower of Brahman needs to have both scholarship and have eliminated all ideas of non-Self
    (b) Eliminating ideas of non-Self, is not one of the preparatory. sadhanas described within SCS
    (c) Sankara seems to use the term knower of Brahman to one who also has scholarship, or as SSS/Alston says, indirect knowledge. This knower is one who still has not eliminated ideas of non-Self
    (d) Therefore I think our disagreement really is definitional. You are going with Sankara’s prefatory definition of a jnani who has scholarship. I suggest Ramesam and I are going with Sankara’s definition of a TRUE knower of Brahmam as a jnani, which is what he generally extols through his bhasya.


  14. Hi Venkat,

    I’m afraid I don’t understand any attempts to differentiate states of knowing. How does a ‘true’ knower differ from a mere ‘knower’? To my mind, ‘Self-knowledge’ means that one knows that one is brahman. Nothing further need be said (or known).

    Shankara says that mokSha follows immediately on gaining knowledge (BSB 1.1.4): “The following texts show liberation as coming immediately after the knowledge of Brahman: (Mu.U. 3.2.19; 2.2.8; Tai.U. 2.9; Br.U. 4.2.4; 1.4.10; Ish.U.7) and he says later that no modification/purification of this is possible: “purification is not possible here through the addition of any quality, since liberation is of the very nature of Brahman that is ever pure.” (Quotes from Gambhirananda translation.)

    Best wishes,

  15. Dennis,

    Venkat, being a Londoner like you, is undoubtedly much more erudite and pellucid in expression than myself.

    If you got the impression from my comments that “there is so much resistance to the idea of pratibandha-s,” obviously, it bespeaks of my inability to say clearly what I have been trying to.

    It is the case of none that there are no pratibandha-s, some culprits coming in my way of Self-realization, but *where and when* they occur. Without going into elaborate debate on it (until the completion of the entire series, which I understand and is well-taken), I felt that it is important that the future parts of the chapter, IMHO, should place them in-between the two events — Obtaining the memory-based stored bookish knowledge and the dawn of intuitional realization of the Knowledge of the Self which is ever new and in the Now (not memory-based).

    Also, my last comment was not for seeking any discussion or response. I was suggesting that there is a slight tweak required in the “style” of writing the future parts, if you like to have some input, so that the reader may not get the sort of impressions that I indicated therein.


  16. Fair points (mostly), Ramesam. I’m afraid the entire series was written before I started posting though. I broke it up into parts of around 1500 words for ease of reading. I can see, though, that by not being able to read the material all at once, additional problems arise of seeing objections that will be cleared later (hopefully).

    My point already made to Venkat still stands, however. There cannot be any ‘in between’ because there aren’t two events. Gaining Self-knowledge IS enlightenment. There may be ‘consolidation’, ‘revision’, or whatever you want to call it but they do not alter the fact that one is already liberated.

    I know I keep saying this but it seems that no one is taking it on board. The pratibandha-s are not obstacles to realization (which is obtained on gaining Self-knowledge) but obstacles to jIvanmukti, which means the mental ‘benefits’ of enlightenment.

    Best wishes,

  17. Dennis

    I fully concur with your points.

    However Sankara in Brhad Up 3.5.1 (in either Alston or Madhavananda translations), clearly says a ‘true’ knower of Brahman has knowledge of the Self plus eliminates ideas of non-Self.

    I’d appreciate if you or Ramesam, could advise on why Sankara seems to make this differentiation in this BU 3.5.1, and perhaps comment on the underlying Sanskrit?

    Many thanks


  18. Hi Venkat,

    I’ve looked through the Madhavananda version several times now but can’t find this quote. Can you indicate the page number (Advaita Ashrama edition 11th impression)? But I’m afraid I will have to defer to Ramesam for commenting on the Sanskrit. I do not have a word for word translation of the Upanishad, let alone Shankara’s bhAShya. And, without such help, my Sanskrit knowledge is pretty usless!

    Best wishes,

  19. Hi Dennis,

    I have the 12th impression!

    But it is easy to find – it is the very last two paragraphs of 3.5.1

    Many thanks for taking the time.


      • Hi Venkat,

        After much searching, including recruiting the help of Ramesam, I managed to dicover what Sureshvara said on this aspect in his vArtika. It is not directly relevant but quite interesting. What I quote here is the comment of Shoun Hino and K. P. Jog, whose translation this is.

        ” It does not mean that absence of transmigration is a characteristic of the knower of Brahman. From this it should be concluded that the proper description of the knower of Brahman is that he has the right knowledge about the nature of Brahman. Absence of any properties spoken about or transmigration does not form an essential characteristic of the knower of Brahman. That characteristic is his being aware of the oneness of the self within himself and the highest Brahman.”

        I take this to mean that a j~nAnI is someone who knows ‘I am Brahman’. All else is irrelvant as far as being a j~nAnI is concerned. I.e. a j~nAnI is NOT (necessarily) a jIvanmukta.

        Best wishes,

  20. Hi Dennis,

    Hope you are able to provide more quotations that clearly provide the message that Nididyasana is not necessary to gain Self-Knowledge.

    Your quote of BS 4.1.2 is not convincing and I feel that it should be taken figuratively. If you take it literally it says hearing “Thou art That” ONCE ONLY is enough. Do you agree with that? Is it really true that hearing it ONCE ONLY is enough?

    I shall refrain from further arguments and shall wait until you complete posting the remaining parts of the series.


  21. Arun,

    It does not say that. It says that repetition is unecessary for someone who gets it on the first hearing. I.e. shravaNa MAY be suffcient on its own. The explanation usually given for this is that all of the preparatory sAdhana-s must have been done in a previous life. E.g. Ramana. The point is that manana and nididhyAsana are not a sine qua non for enlightenment.

    This topic is not really a part of this thread – I deal with it elsewhere in the book. And, as pointed out before, I do not intend to post the entire book on-line!

  22. Hi Dennis,

    There are definitions of lot of technical terms of Advaita in this website and they are really helpful for the sincere seekers.

    My apprehension is the statement “Manana and NididyAsana are not a sine qua non for enlightenment” should not end up being a wrong guidance. Just like the way you clearly specified I think some slokas should be quoted which imply the same meaning.

    You said “It says that repetition is unnecessary for someone who gets it on the first hearing” which is what I had also said. This should be treated more like an exception than being the norm. That means somebody who has accumulated lot of good karmas and is ripe enough for a spark to ignite the fire of enlightenment then for such a person “hearing once” is all that may be required.

    In case of Ramana even the hearing was also not required as he gained his enlightenment on his own intuition. What Ramana did was he entered into deep contemplation of Self Enquiry to gain the Knowledge. That means Manana and NididyAsana happened very quickly. BS 4.1.2 is actually implying that where for the one who is qualified, just hearing “That Thou art” only once could trigger Manana and NididyAsana and result in the Knowledge. After all what is “hearing” (Shravana) without “contemplating”, “reflecting” and “understanding” which is Manana. Finally when one succeeds in “existing as Brahman” (NididyAsana) the Knowledge is gained for ever.

    The book “Aparoksha Anubhuti”, a Prakriya Grantha is attributed to Adi Shankara and is considered as one of the important works of Advaita. I would like to specify few quotes from this book.

    Verse 101
    NITYABHYASAdrte praptirna bhavet sacchid atmanah
    tasmad brhahma NIDIDHYASE jijnasuh sreyase chiram

    Without constant practice (in CAPS), the Self which is the nature of pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss, cannot be attained. Therefore, the sincere seekers should always do Nididyasana (in CAPS) which is contemplation / thinking / meditation on Brahman, for their own good.

    Thus “Constant Practice” and “Nididyasana” are advised for the seekers which are contrary to your views.

    Verse 117 starting with “Drasta darshana drushyanam … ” says “One should turn one’s vision (attention) dutifully to THAT alone, where the separateness of the seer-seen-seeing ceases and not to the tip of one’s own nose (like they do in Patanjali Yoga)”.

    Verse 118 starting with “Chittadhi sarva bhuteshu …” says “To quieten all thought disturbances (chitta) by realising them as nothing but ripples in the supreme Consciousness is the true Pranayama (not torturing the nose like they do in Patanjali Yoga)”.

    In the above two verses “turning one’s vision (attention)” and “to quieten all thought disturbances” is advised which is the actual Nididyasana.

    Verse 133
    kusala brahma vartAyAm vrittihinah surAginah
    te api ajnanyata nunam punrayanti yanti ca

    Those, who are experts in vain talk about Brahman and those who are attached (in bondage due to lack of practice) are indeed ignorant and they are born to die again and again.

    This is the sloka I was looking for which I knew I had read somewhere. This is where we could be leading the sincere and unsuspecting seekers by advising Shravana alone is sufficient, read some good amount of material from this website, say “Aham Brahmasmi”, know “You are THAT” and feel enlightened.

    I could provide more quotations. But I think I have made the point.

    Verses 117 and 118 need to be practiced and one should succeed in “turning one’s vision” and “quietening all thought disturbances”. Only then one gains the Self Knowledge.


  23. Arun,

    I suggest that you read carefully what others have written before responding. Also that you read carefully what you have written before posting. By doing so, you will significantly reduce the likelihood of misrepresenting what has been said and also reduce the likelihood of confusing or misleading readers.


  24. Hi Dennis,

    Please do not mistake. If I have misrepresented or misinterpreted any of the slokas I quoted from the book “Aparoksha Anubhuti” please specifically point them out.

    It might have sounded harsh but unfortunately it is true where one could easily after reading / hearing about Brahman after sometime say “Aham Brahmasmi” and declare himself as enlightened. I read it somewhere that in fact this has happened in the past and such kind of false followers of Advaita are cited to be one of the main reasons for Ramanuja’s Vishishtadvaita and Madhwa’s Dwaita to come into being.

    I have been requesting you that if you provide few more citations from the Prastana Traya that unambiguously specify “Manana and Nididyasana” are not essential to become a Jnani please mention them now or in your future posts and I shall stand corrected.

    On the contrary if I provide the citations that do not approve of that view I request you to carefully consider those citations and please do not hesitate to correct your view.

    This is my one last attempt to drive home the point that “Nididyasana” is very much essential to become a Jnani.

    I know that you have utmost respect to Prastana Traya. Hence I want to quote from Bhagavad Gita. FYI I am using the translations of both Swami Ranganathananda and Swami Chinmayananda. If there are mistakes please feel free to point them out.

    BG 6.34
    Verily the mind, O Krishna, is restless, turbulent, strong and unyielding. I regard it quite as hard to achieve its control as that of the air.

    Prior to this verse, Arjuna has already received several instructions from Krishna. That means good amount of Shravana has happened and the Guru is Lord himself. Yet Arjuna is asking this all important question to become a Jnani.

    “Controlling the mind” is the action that is required and is part of Nididyasana.

    Here we also get the definition of a Jnani. A Jnani is not just a person with the knowledge that “I am Brahman” but Jnani is also one “whose mind is tranquil and not restless, turbulent and unyielding as mentioned in the above verse”.

    We do not have that many articles on how to achieve this mind control on this website and if provided they would immensely help the seekers.

    BG 6.35
    Sri Bhagavan Uvacha
    Without doubt, O mighty-armed, the mind is restless and difficult to control; but through PRACTICE and renunciation, O son of Kunti, it can be achieved.

    Lord himself is advising the PRACTICE to control the mind which is Nididyasana.

    BG 6.12
    There, having made the mind one-pointed, with the actions of the mind and the senses controlled, let him, seated on the seat, practice Yoga, for the purification of the self.

    BG 6.20
    When the mind, absolutely restrained by the practice of concentration, attains quietude and when seeing the Self by the self, one is satisfied in the Self.

    BG 6.25
    With the reason or intellect held firm, having made the mind established in the Self, let one attain quietude step by step and let him not think of anything else.

    In the above three verses single pointed concentration of the mind, practice of concentration, mind established in the Brahman, Quietude, etc. are clearly specified. Without practising these which is nothing but Nididyasana, Self-Knowledge or Self-Realization is not possible.

    This is what I have already mentioned several times which is to “exist” as Pure Consciousness or “be” in Silent Awareness without being bothered by any kind of thought.

    This is exactly was the teaching of Ramana Maharshi which is “Summa Iru” meaning “Be Silent” which BG 6.25 is mentioning as “Kinchidapi Chintayet” meaning “without doing any kind of thinking” or “without any kind of thought” or “be or exist with a silent mind”.

    IMHO without practising and succeeding in this mind control, just reading the texts and possessing a bookish knowledge that “I am Brahman” cannot provide enlightenment and such a person cannot be called as Jnani.

    What’s happening is the texts sometimes say one who “knows” “I am Brahman” is a Jnani. Here “knows” should be interpreted as one who “realizes” through “Aparoksha Anubhuti” meaning “Direct Experience”.

    Elsewhere in the scriptures it is clearly mentioned that Brahman cannot be “known” or “comprehended” by the mind.

    By “existing” with a silent mind without any thoughts “Direct Experience” of Atman can be had.


  25. Arun,

    Volume 1 of the book I am writing (‘Confusions… for the seeker in Advaita Vedanta’) is specifically about ‘Knowledge, Experience and Enlightenment’. I address the sorts of concerns and misunderstandings that you seem to have in this book, and I’m afraid I have neither time nor patience to try to point out specific aspects here. As I pointed out before, these topics are not relevant to the topic of pratibandha-s. (Or, rather they may well be relevant but they are dealt with elsewhere in the book.) Suffice it to say that it is precisely because there are so many confusions of the sort that you exhibit here that I decided to write the book. Hopefully it will be completed and available by the end of next year. Please be patient! 😉


    P.S. I cannot refrain from commenting on your last sentence: “By ‘existing’ with a silent mind without any thoughts ‘Direct Experience” of Atman can be had.”

    This is nonsense I’m afraid! You exist with a silent mind, without any thoughts, every night in deep-sleep!

  26. Hi Dennis,

    BG 6.12, 6.20 and 6.25 by saying “quietude” are implying existing with the silent mind. By dismissing my statement as nonsense you just dismissed these three verses of BG as nonsense.

    You are not appreciating the difference in being with silent mind in the waking state and the deep sleep state.

    In deep sleep the mind is not silent, it is completely absent as it is at rest. Chidabhasa is not happening in deep sleep.

    In waking state when the mind is silent, the mind is not at rest but highly alert, existing as Pure Consciousness and is in complete Awareness. Chidabhasa is very much happening. But during waking state existing as Pure Consciousness with a silent mind and without any thought is the most difficult thing to do.

    This difficultly is what is expressed by Arjuna in BG 6.34. But without succeeding in this difficult task and if one is not able to exist as Pure Consciousness in the waking state which is called as Chathurtha by Taittiriya Upanishad one cannot have Self-Realization and cannot be called as Jnani 🙂


Comments are closed.