pratibandha-s – part 4 of 10

Read Part 3

j~nAna phalam

Here is the sequence of events that I believe represents the traditional understanding:

  • A would-be seeker practices sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti for a length of time in order to gain the qualities of mind (and the overriding desire to attain mokSha) needed to qualify for ‘approaching a qualified teacher’.
  • The seeker gains Self-knowledge from listening to a qualified guru, i.e an enlightened shrotriya [someone with deep knowledge of the shruti, including Sanskrit], who belongs to a qualified sampradAya [teaching lineage]), as he explains the scriptures. This is the stage of shravaNa.
  • When there are no further doubts, the ‘final hearing’ triggers akhaNDAkAra vRRitti (same as brahmakAra vRRitti, but used more frequently) and the seeker thereby immediately becomes a j~nAnI.
  • Whilst there are still doubts, the seeker asks questions of the teacher to clarify and explain. This is the stage of manana. shravaNa and manana are then repeated for as long as needed.
  • The gaining of Self-knowledge simultaneously means that the seeker now knows that he or she is already free. (You can say that they are ‘simultaneously liberated’ if you really want, but this conveys the erroneous notion that they were not free before.) Note that the phalam of ‘j~nAna phalam’ cannot simply refer to mokSha (mukti) because you cannot gain as fruit something that you already have!
  • If the seeker had done sufficient sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti (SCS) previously, he or she also simultaneously gains the phalam (= become a jIvanmukta). (See Section 3o for a discussion on the topic of jIvanmukti.)
  • If their SCS was insufficient, they do not immediately gain the phalam. I.e. they have pratibandha-s and they need to do more nididhyAsana in order to remove them. Thus, they may get the phalam later in life. If they do not, they get videha mukti at death of the body-mind (when the prArabdha karma is used up). (see section 3p)

The phalam relates to the mind, not to Atman. It is ‘I’ the person who gains the phalam, not ‘I’, now known to be Brahman. Note that j~nAna itself is Self-knowledge which, being removal of the belief that one is ‘bound’, equates to realization that one is ‘free’. It does not entail any phalam or fruit; it is simply the knowledge itself. Accordingly, when it comes to statements such as that in the Taittiriya Upanishad bhAShya 2.1.1 – “The man of knowledge, having become Brahman, enjoys as Brahman all the desirable things simultaneously; and he does not enjoy in sequence the desirable things that are dependent on such causes as merit etc.” (Ref. 70) – this does not refer to enjoyment in the sense of jIva’s phalam as a result of destroying pratibandha-s. It is talking about the newly gained knowledge that one IS Brahman resulting in the recognition that one is anantam and therefore cognitively satisfying all desires. Shankara comments:

He (saH) who has recognized in this manner Brahman as himself, as the very sAkShi manifest in one’s own mind (sa evam brahma vij~nAnan) what happens to him (kim)? The RRig mantra says that (iti Aha – the knower of Brahman) attains or enjoys (asnUte) everything, without exception (sarvAn), all the objects of desire (kAmAn).” (Ref. 10)

There is no need to seek out enjoyments of the world when one knows one is pUrNam [‘full’, complete; also ‘accomplished’, ‘ended’].

This is why the phalam may come later than the Self-knowledge that (as if) converts the jIva into a j~nAnI. The arguments attempting to refute this assume a) that the one who is ‘now Brahman’ cannot have to wait for phalam and b) that the phalam is the liberation that has ‘just been gained’. But both these arguments are mistaken because they are making wrong assumptions.

For example, Shankara is quoted as saying: “On the dawn of j~nAna, aj~nAna is got rid of completely and mukti accrues instantaneously, and there is no scope or possibility for anyone to imagine in the manner ‘in due course of time j~nAna will yield a particular fruit’.” (Ref. 190) In this quotation, Shankara is referring to mokSha being the instantaneous result of gaining Self-knowledge; one does not have to wait. He is not referring to the j~nAna phalam of jIvanmukti. The ‘fruit’ of feeling always serene, without worries of any kind etc. comes not from the j~nAna alone but from the assimilated knowledge combined with a purified mind. And this ‘feeling’ belongs to the mind, not to the Atman, which is already perfect and complete, even before the jIva gains Self-knowledge.

When Shankara speaks of how the j~nAnI acts in the Bhagavad Gita bhAShya 2.21, he emphasises “sa vidvAn puruShaH adhikRRito” – that qualified wise person (is not a doer or an instigator of actions, kartA or kArayitA). Only one who has ‘qualified’ by completing sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti can expect to reap the full benefits.

The quotation by Shankara from his bhAShya on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.7 was given earlier to show that ‘liberation’ and the gaining of Self-knowledge are simultaneous: “the shruti uses the words ‘knowledge’ and ‘attainment’ as synonymous. The non-attainment of the Self is but the ignorance of It.” (Ref. 8)

If sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti has been ‘completed’ prior to the gaining of Self-knowledge (i.e. complete control of the mind and senses, total dispassion and acute discrimination etc, then when the Self-knowledge occurs, the ‘bliss’ of the jIvanmukta will also be obtained simultaneously. Likewise, if Self-knowledge is gained first and then the pratibandha-s are eliminated later.

This is effectively what is said in Bhagavad Gita 6.27; the order of attaining is not specified: “Supreme bliss comes to the yogi alone whose mind has become perfectly tranquil, whose (quality of) rajas has been eliminated, who has become identified with Brahman, and is taintless.” (Ref. 6) Since it is rajas that generates the pratibandha-s, this supports the notion that the phalam of j~nAna is loss of pratibandha-s, and it is this that gives jIvanmukti.

Shankara’s reference to the notion of the ‘fruit of gaining enlightenment’ supports this interpretation. In the Bhagavad Gita 6.27, he says that he is referring to one ‘whose mind has been thoroughly stilled’ and ‘whose delusions and other afflictions have dwindled away’. I.e. he is referring to someone who no longer has any pratibandha-s, having eliminated them by completing sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti prior to following shravaNa-manana. Hence, on enlightenment, he/she also gains the phalam simultaneously and therefore becomes a jIvanmukta.

The same idea is expressed in Bhagavad Gita 4.39. This verse itself refers to ‘one who has subdued the senses’ and Shankara reiterates this in his bhAShya. Furthermore, in his introduction to Chapter 3, Shankara says: “Also, because emancipation is not an effect, its seeker stands to gain nothing from works”. [By ‘works’, Shankara means ‘actions’, following rituals etc. The Sanskrit word he uses is simply ‘karma’.]

In his brahmasUtra bhAShya 3.4.52, Shankara says that: “liberation cannot be a product of anything, it being realized through knowledge as a fact eternally present in its own right.” (Ref. 5) This shows that Shankara agrees that the liberation associated with gaining Self-knowledge is simply the removal of the Self-ignorance that obscured the already existing fact. D. B. Gangolli puts it: “In truth, this mukti is not even the resultant effect of j~nAna; rather, being ever existent and eternal, It gets manifested by j~nAna.” (Ref. 190) Rather like switching on a light in a dark room and inescapably seeing what is already there.

Accordingly, the word ‘phalam’ cannot refer to ‘liberation’. This strongly implies that Shankara would agree that any phalam relates to the clearance of pratibandha-s in the event that Self-knowledge occurs before their complete destruction.

The notion that, upon gaining Self-knowledge, one ‘reaches’ or ‘attains’ Brahman is dealt with exhaustively in 3g and ‘Merging with Brahman’ in 3f. We are already Brahman so we cannot ‘reach’ Brahman or ‘merge with’ Brahman or even, as Swami Gambhirananda put it, ‘gain an identity with Brahman’, as though we are presently somewhere else. These expressions are gauNa only (figurative). What happens upon enlightenment is that the previous ignorance about our true nature is destroyed (and ‘gods cannot prevent this’).

Sureshvara’s refutation of suggestions that ‘something more’ needs to be done after gaining knowledge before we can be liberated (naiShkarmya siddhi 1.66 – 67) will be dealt with later in Section 6, where the topic of ‘Action versus Knowledge’ will be discussed at length. Briefly here, 1.67 says that: “The understanding of the scriptures at once (without repetition) destroys the ignorance that bears the forms of action and the factors involved in action. There is no combination of these two.” (Ref. 27)

So j~nAna = knowledge that one is already free. The ‘liberation’ is not = j~nAna phalam, which may come at the same time, at a later time, or not at all. Regardless of whether it comes or not, there is no rebirth. If the phalam comes in life, the j~nAnI becomes a jIvanmukta; otherwise it is a case of videha mukti at death of the body.

Read Part 5

21 thoughts on “pratibandha-s – part 4 of 10

  1. Hi Dennis

    1) It seems to me somewhat odd that Sankara, who went to great lengths to emphasise that liberation arises from knowledge that removes ignorance, and not through any other means, makes no explicit (even cursory) mention of a difference between a jnani and a jivanmukta, and the need for continued SCS to achieve jnana phalam. You seem to be going through a very convoluted and unconvincing logic to dismiss your own very clear quote from Sankara:

    “On the dawn of j~nAna, aj~nAna is got rid of completely and mukti accrues instantaneously, and there is no scope or possibility for anyone to imagine in the manner ‘in due course of time j~nAna will yield a particular fruit’.

    2) The very word jivanmukta means one who has freedom, moksha. We have agreed that a jnani has moksha. Therefore a jnani is one who is a jivamukta, definitionally. Similarly jnana phalam means the fruit of jnana, To argue that those fruits need further action to manifest would go against the very Sanskrit meaning, which seems unlikely, as per the Sankara quote above.

    3) What is jnana phalam – surely it is only the removal of misery / sorrow of the identified person, which is a natural consequence of disidentification.

    In Brhad Up bhasya 1.4.7, Sankara writes:

    “for in the words. ‘When there is something else, as it were’ (IV iii. 31), it is taken for granted that the happiness, misery, etc. are for the satisfaction of the self while it is in a state of ignorance. They are not attributes of the Self, for they are denied of the enlightened self. as in such passages as, ‘Then what should one see and through what?’ (II. iv. 14 ; IV. v. IS), ‘There is no difference whatsoever in It’ (IV. iv. 19 ; Ka. IV. II), ‘THEN WHAT DELUSION AND WHAT GRIEF CAN THERE BE FOR ONE WHO SEES UNITY? (Is. 7) . . . from the standpoint of reason too the Self cannot be miserable. For misery, being an object of perception, cannot affect the Self, which is not an object of perception”

    He continues:

    “Objection : IF THE SUPREME SELF HAS NO MISERY, AND THERE IS NO OTHER ENTITY TO BE MISERABLE, THEN IT IS USELESS FOR THE SCRIPTURES TO TRY TO REMOVE MISERY.
    Reply: NOT SO, FOR THEY ARE MEANT TO REMOVE THE FALSE NOTION OF MISERY SUPERIMPOSED BY IGNORANCE. And the Self being admitted to imagine Itself as miserable, the scriptures help to remove that error.

    So the jnana phalam that we talk of is simply the removal of the false notion of misery, associated with ignorance. It has to be coincidental with jnana.

    4) Later in Brhad Up 1.4.7, he states that remembrance of knowledge of the self comes automatically, and so removes grief:

    Objection : Is not the train of remembrance of the knowledge of the Self generated by the passage relating to It something different from the knowledge itself arising from the hearing of It (and hence that is to be prescribed)?
    Reply : No, for the remembrance of the Self comes automatically. That is to say, as soon as the knowledge of the Self arises in consequence of hearing a dictum delineating It, it necessarily destroys the false notion about It. It could not arise otherwise. And when this false notion about the Self is gone. memories due to that, which are natural to man and concern the multitude of things other than the Self, cannot last. Moreover, everything else is then known to be an evil. In other words, when the Self is known, things other than It are realised as evils, being full of defects such as transitoriness, painfulness and impurity, while the Self is contrary to them. THEREFORE THE MEMORIES OF NOTIONS ABOUT THE NON-SELF DIE OUT WHEN THE SELF IS KNOWN. AS THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE LEFT, THE TRAIN OF REMEMBRANCE OF THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE SELF IS ONE, WHICH COMES AUTOMATICALLY, IS NOT TO BE PRESCRIBED. BESIDES, THE MEMORY OF THE SELF REMOVES THE PAINFUL DEFECTS SUCH AS GRIEF, DELUSION, FEAR AND EFFORT. FOR THESE DEFECTS SPRING FROM THE OPPOSITE KIND OF KNOWLEDGE.”

    Sankara goes on to say in response to a question about control of the mind (presumably akin to your SCS):
    “In the Upanishads nothing is spoken of as a means to the attainment of the highest end of man except the knowledge of the identity of the self and Brahman. Witness hundreds of Sruti texts like the following: ‘It knew only Itself. . . . Therefore It became all’ (I. iv. 10), ‘The knower of Brahman attains the highest’ (Tai. II. i. I), ‘He who knows
    that Supreme Brahman becomes Brahman’ (Mu. III. ii. g) . . . BESIDES THERE IS NO OTHER MEANS FOR THE CONTROL OF MENTAL STATES EXCEPT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF AND THE TRAIN OF REMEMBRANCE ABOUT IT. WE HAVE SAID THIS AS A TENTATIVE ADMISSION; REALIY WE KNOW OF NO OTHER MEANS OF LIBERATION EXCEPT THE KNOWLEDGE OF BRAHMAN.”

    Note that he does not go on to add that a jnani may still need to continue SCS to attain jivanmukti!

    THIS is the context in which your Brhad Up 1.4.7 quote in the very first article – which was provided as evidence to support your theory of a gap between knowledge and jnana phalam – needs to be understood:

    “…nevertheless, since the resultant of past actions that led to the formation of the present body must produce definite results, speech, mind and the body are bound to work even after the highest realization, for actions that have begun to bear fruit are stronger than knowledge; as for instance an arrow that has been let fly continues its course for some time. HENCE THE OPERATION OF KNOWLEDGE, BEING WEAKER THAN THEY, (IS LIABLE TO BE INTERRUPTED BY THEM AND) BECOMES ONLY A POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVE. THEREFORE THERE IS A NEED TO REGULATE THE TRAIN OF REMEMBRANCE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF BY HAVING RECOURSE TO MEANS SUCH AS RENUNCIATION AND DISPASSION.”

    5) Sankara seems to use knowledge in its primary sense, but also in the sense of assimilation, or as he puts it ‘remembrance’ as a result of renunciation and dispassion. This is pertinent to the only other quote that you have provided (in that first article) to support your contention:

    “THEREFORE THE KNOWER OF BRAHMAN, AFTER RENOUNCING DESIRES, SHOULD TRY TO LIVE UPON THAT STRENGTH WHICH COMES OF KNOWLEDGE. Those others, who are ignorant of the Self, derive their strength from the means and results of actions. The knower of Brahman avoids that and resorts simply to the strength which comes of the knowledge of the Self, which is naturally different from the means and results of an action. When he does this, his organs have no more power to drag him down to the objects of desire… Strength is the total elimination of the vision of the objects by Self-knowledge; hence the knower of Brahman should try to live upon that strength.”

    But as I pointed out in a previous post, Sankara goes on to write:

    “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”

    It is evident from the words that Sankara is equating a TRUE knower of Brahman as one who understood the knowledge (from sruti / teacher) and assimilates it through remembrance / strength thereby eliminating all notions of non-self and misery. And only thereby “his status as a knower of Brahman is LITERALLY true”.

    As per our email exchange with Ramesam (with many thanks for his investigation into this), the first ‘knower of Brahman’ in the above quote has been inadequately translated, and actually refers to a Brahmin seeker, not a knower of Brahman.

    Conclusion

    So a true jnani, is one who through knowledge and its remembrance and standing on the strength of that remembrance, has eliminated all non-Self, including misery and grief that arises from ignorance. He inevitably has the so-called fruit, which is jivanmukta.

    “And there is no scope or possibility for anyone to imagine in the manner ‘in due course of time j~nAna will yield a particular fruit”

    best wishes,

    venkat

  2. Hi Venkat,

    You still appear to be misunderstanding certain aspects of my contentions. In particular, I am saying that the mental ‘benefits’ associated with what is termed ‘jIvanmukti’ are NOT simply the result of gaining Self-knowledge. They result from Self-knowledge IN CONJUNCTION WITH a purified mind. There is only one place in the bhAShya-s where Shankara uses the term jIvanmukti so I do not believe we can say anything at all about what Shankara understood by this term.

    I have not claimed anywhere that a j~nAnI will ‘suffer’ or not feel liberated etc, regardless of whether or not there are pratibandha-s. The presence of pratibandha-s simply means that the mental reactions to worldly situations will still be triggered in an habitual manner because the j~nAnI did not complete the mental purification by means of sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti. The now-present Self-knowledge will usually enable the j~nAnI to relegate these reactions to the insignificance that they are now known to be. But there may be times when this is delayed or is not completely effective.

    The whole point about j~nAna is it is realized that all of the worldly stuff is of no consequence at all. So why should it be surprising that Shankara does not make an issue about the phalam? I see no incongruity at all, no ‘convoluted and unconvincing logic’ in the quote in point 1. The fruit of gaining j~nAna is immediate realization of this. The knowledge does not give any further fruit. You might ask, then, why is it not called ‘sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti phalam’? Well, apart from that being rather long winded, it does not make it clear that j~nAna is ALSO required. When Shankara refers to this situation he talks about a ‘qualified j~nAnI’ so as to ensure that both aspects are present.

    I’m afraid I did not understand what your point 4 was saying. And, as I noted in our off-line discussion with Ramesam, I did not entirely agree that the quotation in 5 HAD been mistranslated by Swami Madhavananda and believe that this takes us over into the topic of saMnyAsa.

    I know I keep asking this – and you must be getting very frustrated! – but please hold off until the series completes. Parts 5 and 6 introduce an entirely new argument which may help convince you!

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  3. Dennis

    Can I suggest you go back to read point (4) again. They are all quotes from Sankara, rather than my words.

    In effect, he is talking about mental defects such as pain, grief etc.. This is equivalent to your ‘the mental reactions to worldly situations will still be triggered in an habitual manner”. And he says that these come to an end through remembrance of the knowledge of the Self. This “remembrance” seems to be equivalent to what he terms later as “standing on the strength of the knowledge of the Self”, and “renunciation and desirelessness”.

    He goes on to say that there is no means to control [venkat: purify?] the mind – to prevent these mental defects of pain, grief arising – other than self-knowledge and its remembrance.

    This is not about SCS post gaining knowledge. This is about taking the knowledge one has heard and continually remembering it, in order to eliminate all that is not-Self – and THEN one becomes a true knower of Brahman, a true jnani.

  4. Hi Venkat,

    I have read it several times. I do not see anything to contradict what I have been saying. Providing the mind has been adequately prepared, the knowledge (or memory of the knowledge) IS sufficient to remove “painful defects” and to “control mental states”. But, because “actions that have begun to bear fruit are stronger than knowledge”, there may be the need to “regulate the train of remembrance of the knowledge of the self by having recourse to means such as renunciation and dispassion”. This is where the topic transfers into that of saMnyAsa as already mentioned.

    Dennis

  5. OK, so the issue boils down to the interpretation of 3.5.1:

    “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”

    . . . where the translation talks of a knower of Brahman at the start and a true knower of Brahman at the end.

  6. I agree with most of that. Not sure what you mean by ‘the issue boils down to that’ though. It has nothing to do with pratibandha-s or jIvanmukti, as far as I can see. Also, I would have to reject ‘knower of Brahman LITERALLY’. Brahman cannot know Brahman. And Brahman has no attributes for a mind to know Brahman.

  7. What I mean is the following.

    In your quote from 1.4.7 it refers to a knower still needing to have recourse to remembrance, renunciation and dispassion:

    “hence the operation of knowledge, being weaker than they [actions that have begun to bear fruit], (is liable to be interrupted by them and) becomes only a possible alternative. Therefore there is a need to regulate the train of remembrance of the knowledge of the self by having recourse to means such as renunciation and dispassion.”

    The quote from 3.5.1 says practically the same:

    “Therefore the knower of brahman, after renouncing desires, should try to live upon that strength which comes of knowledge . . . 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”

    In other words one can have knowledge, but renunciation / dispassion / renouncing desires / elimination of ideas of non-self are required to accomplish the task. So in both quotes the prescription is the same. It is in 3.5.1 however, that it is stated that one who accomplishes his task is a “true knower of Brahman”.

    Therefore our contention boils down to the translation of a knower of Brahman and a ‘true’ knower of Brahman.

  8. Hi Venkat,

    The passage still seems to be saying exactly what I have been saying all along. One starts off as a j~nAnI – a knower, having gained Self-knowledge. One then ‘gives up desires’, ‘tries to live according to that knowledge’ and ‘eliminate ideas of not-Self’. When that is achieved, one becomes a ‘yogin’, a ‘muni’, a ‘real knower of Brahman’… otherwise known as a jIvanmukta, albeit that term only really gained common usage very much later. Why can we not equate ‘giving up of desires’ with ‘getting rid of pratibandha-s’?

    Here is how Swami Krishnananda translates this (and he gives the original Sanskrit in transliterated form so that even relatively ignorant Sanskrit speakers can argue with the translation):

    yA hy eva putraiShaNA sa vittaiShaNA yA vittaiShaNA sA lokaiShaNA:

    These desires mentioned are interdependent. When one is there, the other also is there. That which is desire for renown, that which is desire for wealth, that which is desire for children—all these are interdependent desires.

    Ubhe hy ete eShaNe eva bhavatah; tasmAd brAhmaNaH, pANDityaM nirvidya bAlyena tiShThAset; bAlyaM cha pANDityaM cha nirvidya, atha muniH; amaunaM cha maunaM cha nirvidya, atha brAhmaNaH:

    “Therefore, knowing this magnificence of the Atman; having realized which, people give up all longing for the world; having known that Reality which is the Atman of all, one becomes what is designated by the term Brahmana. And that Brahmana, the knower of the Atman, renounces all ordinary learning. Having renounced learning of every kind, he becomes like a child. When the pride of learning goes, he becomes like a child, and then he renounces even the state of childhood.” This is the consequence of immense knowledge.

    bAlyena tiShThAset; bAlyaM cha pANDityaM cha nirvidya, atha muniH:

    “He becomes a real sage.” When you transcend learning and transcend even the humility of a child, the innocence of a child, the simplicity of a child; when both these are transcended, you become a Muni, or a real knower, observing true silence inside. That is the state of a sage.

    I do not actually see a word that translates as ‘real’ here. The word ‘muni’ of course usually relates to an ascetic, renunciant, mendicant, literally one who has taken the vow of silence (mauna = silence).

    There is an entirely different reading of this verse, as hinted at by Swami Madhavananda and mentioned by you in our exchange with Ramesam. Interestingly, that interpretation – where ‘brAhmaNa’ refers to someone in the first Ashrama rather than a ‘knower of Brahman’ – is extensively elaborated on by Swami Paramarthananda. He equates pANDitya with shravaNa, bAlya with manana and mauna with nididhyAsana! So the verse is speaking about an enquirer into Brahman rather than a knower and as pointed out earlier, it is suggesting that saMnyAsa is a necessary adjunct to seeking knowledge if one is to become a j~nAnI.

    I am presently somewhat skeptical of this reading, but then my understanding of the Brihadaranyaka is admittedly rather less than that of Swami P! Perhaps when I have fully researched the saMnyAsa topic, I will be in a better position to consider this. Meanwhile, there is the suggestion that maybe here is a case where you subscribe to Swami P and I do not!!

    Finally, I might mention here that I now intend to add a ‘part 7’ to this topic, in which I will discuss the post-Shankara contribution to the notion of pratibandha-s.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  9. Hi Dennis,

    > The seeker gains Self-knowledge from listening to a qualified guru, i.e an enlightened shrotriya

    Removing Avidya (ignorance) and gaining Jnana (Self-Knowledge) is the main message of Advaita that is coming across loud and clear. If that knowledge can be gained just by listening then there would have been several verses, quotations and explanations that would say in an unambiguous and lucid manner that Shravana alone is enough. Without the backing of such citations I think it is inappropriate to be spreading the message that Shravana alone is sufficient for gaining Self-Knowledge.

    I am glad to see that on the other thread you also seemed to agree to this by terming the demand for such citations on the most important point of gaining Self-Knowledge as “reasonable”.

    > the ‘final hearing’ triggers akhaNDAkAra vRRitti and the seeker thereby immediately becomes a j~nAnI.

    This paragraph is immediately followed by

    > Whilst there are still doubts, the seeker asks questions of the teacher to clarify and explain. This is the stage of manana.

    The confusion is very evident here because of your belief that Shravana alone is sufficient. You say the ‘final hearing’ triggers the gaining of Knowledge. After the Knowledge is gained, you say there could be doubts. Isn’t it ludicrous? How can the Knowledge be gained when there are still doubts? Can a person be called as Jnani even if some doubts remain?

    Whatever be the school or whatever be the number of people advocating that “Shravana alone is sufficient”, it is not tenable.

    On the other hand there are innumerous verses that clearly advocate practicing Nididyasana.

    BG 6.34 – Arjuna asks how to practice mind control
    BG 6.35 – Krishna assures that by constant practice mind control can be achieved
    BG 6.12, 6.20 and 6.25 advice practicing of “abiding in the Self” or “being in the I thought” with single pointed concentration and attaining quietude.

    Verse 101 of Aparoksha Anubhuti urges Nitya Abhyasa (Constant Practice) of Nididyasana. Verses 117 and 118 also advice practicing of single pointed concentration on THAT alone.

    There are many more such citations. My point is when all these instances clearly specify that Nididyasana is very much required why they should be ignored.

    From the above citations is it not clear why Samadhana (Chitta Ekagratha – Single Pointed Concentration) is advised as part of Sadhana Chatustaya so that one could practice Nididyasana? Otherwise why Samadhana needs to be practiced?

    Regards
    Arun

  10. Arun,

    Would you please READ the posts of others before criticising them!

    I have never said that shravaNa alone IS sufficient; I said that it MAY be sufficient and provided a Shankara quotation to substantiate this.

    You said: “You say… After the Knowledge is gained, you say there could be doubts. Isn’t it ludicrous?” I did NOT say this. What I said is that “WHILST THERE ARE STILL DOUBTS, the seeker asks questions of the teacher to clarify and explain. This is the stage of manana. shravaNa and manana are then repeated for as long as needed.” This is an accepted part of the traditional teaching.

    You say: “My point is when all these instances clearly specify that Nididyasana is very much required why they should be ignored.” Part 3 of this series began with the sub-topic of nididhyAsana so I am not sure how you can say it is being ignored!

    And then you refer to chitta ekagratA. We have discussed all of these things before in the thread following https://www.advaita-vision.org/who-am-i/. Clearly you feel very strongly about this for some reason but I am not prepared to waste time repeating arguments. And I do not think that visitors want to waste their time re-reading them. Please see the indicated post and its comments.

  11. Hi Dennis,

    Verse 4.5.6 from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad should make it crystal clear. It says

    Atma va arey Drishtavyaha Shrotavyo Mantavyo Nididyasitavyo Maitreyi ….

    My dear Maitreyi, the Self should be seen, heard, reflected upon and meditated / pondered / contemplated upon. Only then Self is known.

    Yagnavalkya is clearly stating that all Shravana, Manana and Nididyasana are required to know the Self and to become a Jnani.

    > I have never said that shravaNa alone IS sufficient; I said that it MAY be sufficient and provided a Shankara quotation to substantiate this.

    Earlier in your post “Who am I?”, in the comments section you had said “I follow the vivaraNa school and accept that it is shravaNa alone that gives Self-knowledge”. That statement of yours was highly assertive.

    Now you are using the words “may be” and saying “Shravana may be sufficient”.

    Shall we put an end to all these nonsense and go with what Yagnavalkya is saying in BU 4.5.6.

    I hope you do not want mislead the readers. In that case let us not advocate anything that cannot be backed using the Prastana Traya which are Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Brahma Sutra.

    Regards
    Arun

  12. Arun,

    What I said in the ‘Who am I?’ comment was: “Yes, you are right – I follow the vivaraNa school and accept that it is shravaNa alone that gives Self-knowledge. The purpose of nidihyAsana is purely to assimilate and consolidate that knowledge.” I can see that it might be seen as a contradiction to then say that shravaNa MAY be sufficient. But I assure you that it is not contradictory. The point is that one may go around the shravaNa-manana circuit many times, maybe even with nididhyAsana thrown in, but IN THE END, it is the shravaNa ALONE that gives enlightenment. It has to be, because only knowledge can remove ignorance. Any amount of ‘experience’, even samAdhi experience, will be of no use. And it is possible, for a seeker who has done all of the sAdhana preparation and has a fully prepared mind, to gain Self-knowledge merely by hearing ‘tat tvam asi’ once.

    Shankara says that “purely by knowledge alone, the supreme goal, mokSha, can be gained.” (Taittiriya Upanishad shIkShAvallI anuvAka 11). It is shravaNa that gives knowledge, manana that removes doubts and nididhyAsana that ‘consolidates’ the knowledge. Presumably you do not argue with those definitions, in which case the knowledge can ultimately ONLY come from shravaNa. shravaNa is shabda pramANa – the ONLY pramANa that can tell us about Brahman.

    Shankara treats shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana as a ‘three stage process’ to be repeated as needed until realization dawns. He also makes it clear that shravaNa alone can be effective in his bhAShya on the 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.”

    If you need a story or metaphor to help appreciate this, look no further than the tenth man parable. When the leader is told ‘you are the tenth’, he realizes what has happened from just this single hearing.

    Sureshvara, in his sambandha vArttika (219) says: “Hence, renouncing all action, and destroying nescience by a true knowledge of Self, one should, BY MEANS OF KNOWLEDGE ALONE, reach that supreme seat of Vishnu.”

    In his naiShkarmya siddhi, he actually addresses the contrary ideas and establishes that clear understanding ALONE gives liberation and that it is necessary to have clear understanding of this fact. I address all of this in the section on samuchchaya vAda (the idea that it is a combination of knowledge and action that gives mokSha) in the ‘Confusions’ book. And I am not entering into discussion here. (In case you do not accept Sureshvara as an authority on this, I assume you do accept Shankara bhAShya on prasthAna traya? In which case Shankara vehemently attacks samuchchaya vAda in his bhAShya-s on muNDaka and aitareya as well as the first chapter of upadesha sAhasrI.

    I hope this brings this discussion to an end. Please do not continue unless you can provide explanations of how nididhyAsana can be a pramANa for Self-knowledge and provide substantiating references for that claim.

    Dennis

  13. Hi Dennis,

    Thanks for your reply. I highly appreciate it.

    I do not intend to waste the time of yours or the readers and I also value my own time and do not want to waste it.

    I respect you and the work you have done so far with this website and I also expect the same. Let us not be in a hurry. We are discussing an important issue here which is actually the foundation – To attain Self-Knowledge, is Shravana alone sufficient or all the three which are Shravana, Manana and Nididyasana are necessary? So if this foundation is not firm then the castle of theories that gets built on top of it will also be shaky and meaningless.

    To make it easy I shall provide my reply as points so that you could address each of those without missing any of them.

    1. Quoting verse 4.5.6 of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad was the main point in my last post. Your previous reply does not have any mention of it. That verse of BU clearly says Shravana, Manana and Nididyasana are necessary to know the Self. Should this verse not end the dispute right here and clear your misunderstanding? Are you going to overlook this verse and still hold on to your stand that Shravana alone is sufficient to obtain Self-Knowledge?

    2. The BSB sutra 4.1.2 that you are holding onto to defend your stand, unfortunately you have got its interpretation wrong. Your interpretation is

    > “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.”

    I referred to BSB of Sankaracharya translated by Swami Gambhirananda who was the 11th President of the Ramakrishna Order. The section 4.1 is titled as “Repetition of Meditation, etc”. There you go. The whole section is about Meditation or Nididyasana and you are quoting a verse from this very Nididyasana section to say “Nididyasana is NOT necessary, Shravana alone is sufficient”.

    The verse number also you got it wrong. It is not the second verse but it is the very first verse BSB 4.1.1. Here is the extracts from Gambhirananda’s book.

    Doubt: The doubt arises whether the mental act (Nididyasana) is to be undertaken once only or it is to be repeated.

    Opponent: There should be one hearing, one reflection and one meditation and nothing more.

    Vedantin Sankara says: This being the position, we reply:

    “Repetition is necessary, since the Upanishads instruct repeatedly”.

    One of the sentences in the explanation of this sutra says “Continuous remembrance and Nididhyasana (profound meditation) are the implied acts involving this aspect of repetition.

    To cross verify, I referred to the another book I have which is “Brahma Sutras” of Sri Ramanuja translated by Swami Vireswarananda and Swami Adidevananda. In that book also the section 4.1 is titled as “Frequent repetition of meditation” and the sutra 4.1.1 is translated as (I am quoting it verbatim)

    “Repetition (of meditation is to be practised) again and again, on account of the teaching”.

    BSB 4.1.1 is actually saying meditation, which means Nididyasana has to be practiced. Do you need any further proof that Nididyasana is very much necessary for gaining Self-Knowledge?

    3. You said

    > Please do not continue unless you can provide explanations of how nididhyAsana can be a pramANa for Self-knowledge and provide substantiating references for that claim.

    The entire Prastana Traya is the proof where Nididyasana (meditation) is insisted. I shall provide few pointers here.

    i) BU verse 4.5.6 as mentioned above where Yagnavalkya clearly states that Nididyasana is necessary.

    ii) BSB 4.1 which you have been referring to, the entire section is on meditation which is nothing but Nididyasana.

    iii) The entire 6th chapter of BG is titled “Yoga of Meditation” which means Nididyasana and this section discusses in detail about mind control. I hope you agree that the entire BG should be taken in toto for attaining Self-Knowledge and not in bits and pieces such as leaving out this chapter on Meditation (Nididyasana).

    iv) Chandogya 8.7.1 says “The Self (Atman) which is ageless, deathless, sorrowless, hugerless, thirstless, …. – He should be searched out. Him one should desire to understand. – He should be “searched” which implies mental action and not just listening or reading.

    v) Chandogya 3.8.1 says “One should meditate (upasita) in the mind as Brahman”.

    vi) Mundaka Upanishad 2.2.3 and 4 use the verb “penetrate” which means concentrate / meditate / contemplate in the mind on Brahman.

    4. You said

    > If you need a story or metaphor to help appreciate this, look no further than the tenth man parable. When the leader is told ‘you are the tenth’, he realizes what has happened from just this single hearing.

    Your interpretation here is not entirely correct. This tenth man story is very well illustrated in Pancha Dashi of Vidyaranya and one should listen to Swami Sarvapriyananda’s lecture on this. I do not have that youtube link right now.

    Where your interpretation is not correct is “You are the tenth” is not what they “hear” first. Actually what they “hear” from the wise man first is “Be assured. All the ten are present. Nobody has drowned”. Because of the firm assurance they now believe in the wise man and they stop grieving. This is called Paroksha Jnana (Indirect Knowledge).

    Then the wise man asks a man to count and the usual counting starts. When he counts nine then the wise man pulls the outstretched counting hand of the counting man, folds it and points to the counting man himself and says “Here is the tenth. Count it”. Thus they get Aparoksha Jnana (Direct Knowledge) and become realized.

    To correct your stand from “Shravana alone is sufficient” and to understand and realize clearly that all the three Shravana, Manana and Nididyasana please try to understand the terms “Paroksha Jnana” and “Aparoksha Jnana” which are clearly explained in Pancha Dashi.

    If you need please ask me, I can point you to the exact chapter where they are explained.

    Shravana which means hearing from Guru, reading of scriptures, listening / watching lectures, later Manana which means understanding, reflecting upon and clarifying doubts, they together give knowledge but only indirect knowledge (Paroksha Jnana) is obtained. This is like the assurance of the wise guy in the ten man story.

    After Shravana and Manana, one should undertake Nididyasana (Meditation / Concentration / Contemplation) of what has been learnt and understood so far by doing Shravana and Manana. One should keep repeating Nididyasana to finally attain the Self-Knowledge which is nothing but realisation of the Self, by “being” as Self, by “existing” as Self, by clearly “identifying” I with the Self. This knowledge is called Direct Knowledge (Aparoksha Jnana) which is direct realisation of the eternal Self.

    By the way, in the above two paragraphs I provided the correct definitions of Shravana, Manana and Nididyasana which definitely are not exactly the same way you have been interpreting. You were way off especially with the definition of Nididyasana as “assimilation and consolidation”. No my dear friend. Nididyasana means meditation, highly focused concentration, contemplation on what has been learnt, contemplation on Brahman.

    5. Clarification on the use of the word “Knowledge”

    > Shankara says that “purely by knowledge alone, the supreme goal, mokSha, can be gained.”

    > Sureshvara, in his sambandha vArttika (219) says: “Hence, renouncing all action, and destroying nescience by a true knowledge of Self, one should, BY MEANS OF KNOWLEDGE ALONE, reach that supreme seat of Vishnu.”

    Here Knowledge means Aparoksha Jnana (Direct Knowledge) which one gains after succeeding in Nididyasana. This knowledge is what is referred to in the above quotes and this is the knowledge mentioned elsewhere in the texts and this direct knowledge of Self is what has to be attained.

    Knowledge gained by doing Shravana and Manana is only Paroksha Jnana (Indirect Knowledge) which is the prior stage before undertaking Nididyasana. So the word “knowledge” should not be confused with this indirect knowledge.

    You are right when you say “Moksha is instantly attained on gaining Self-Knowledge and becoming a Jnani”. Just like happiness, sorrow, pain, etc. this Moksha also can be felt. If we examine into this Moksha it will throw light on the true Self-Knowledge and not just the bookish theoretical knowledge gained by doing Shravana and Manana.

    Moksha means liberation. What is the Jnani liberated from?

    i) Jnani is liberated from the identification of I with the ego-self. Ego becomes highly subdued.

    ii) Jnani is liberated from desires and wants because the ego-self does not reign supreme anymore. It is the ego that causes desires. Anonya Adhyasa (Mutual Superimposition) is no longer there and the Jnani is able to easily identify I with the Atman.

    iii) Jnani is liberated from being bothered by continuous thoughts in the mind. Thoughts are always due to desires which in turn are due to ego-self. When there are no wants and there is no feeling of lacking what is there to think? Hence the mind automatically and effortlessly becomes calm, serene, quiet, pure and tranquil. Jnani does not have to put any effort (such as stilling the mind) to make the mind calm and become devoid of thoughts, instead it becomes his second nature.

    iv) Jnani is liberated from attachments to worldly things as they no longer attract as they used to when he was not a Jnani.

    v) Jnani is liberated from the sway or the influence of Arishadvargas (band of six enemies). They are Kama (desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (miserliness), Moha (obsession), Madha (pride) and Matsarya (jealousy).

    vi) Jnani is liberated from the clutches of Raaga (likes) and Dwesha (hate and dislikes).

    vii) Jnani is liberated from alternating between pleasure and pain that are associated with gaining something or losing something.

    viii) Jnani is liberated from the feelings associated with the praise and insults as he remains impervious to them.

    ix) Jnani is liberated from engaging in unnecessary talks and gossips. It actually pains him.

    x) Jnani is extremely humble. For example, a successful runner might look down upon a crippled man. But if he is a Jnani, he would know that it is exactly the same Atman powering him as well as the crippled man, it is just that the other person’s body has defect and himself has been lucky to be blessed with an able body. Thus the pride and arrogance give way to humility and humbleness. This is exactly the same feeling that allows a Jnani to engage in any action without having the feeling of ownership or doership. He is always thankful and grateful for the Atman and for being blessed with the able mind and able body that has the capabilities to engage / perform a particular action.

    There could be many more qualities. But the point is to gain the Self-Knowledge as well as after gaining the Self-Knowledge there is a marked change in one’s personality as the transition happens from an Ajnani to a Jnani. Such kind of changes in personality cannot happen by doing just Shravana and Manana. It happens by practice, by being THAT and intense practice of Nididyasana.

    Of all the qualities mentioned above, the ability of the mind to remain without any thoughts is the most difficult challenge that needs to be overcome. It is not for nothing that Brahma Vidya (Self-Knowledge) is considered as the most difficult Vidya (Knowledge). But a Jnani effortlessly remains in a thought free state.

    Though we all are Brahman, normally we exist as Jiva with the continuous barrage of thoughts in the mind.

    The bottom line is to succeed in remaining in a thought free state. What happens in that state? In that state one exists as Pure Consciousness, Pure Awareness and that is the state of being in “I am Brahman” state and only in that state one becomes Brahman itself (Mundaka 3.2.9).

    I would be really elated if I am able to convince you without any doubt that all the three, Shravana, Manana and Nididyasana are necessary to gain Self-Knowledge.

    Regards
    Arun

  14. Arun,

    I have patiently attempted to respond to all of your comments. I even read through most of your remarks here, endeavoring to ignore the supercilious tone, but had to give up before I reached the end. Please stick to the point and do not branch out into other topics. You have ‘blogging’ privileges if you want to post on these other matters.

    You are still missing the point. No one is denying the importance of shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana or the authority of the Br.U. that introduces this. The question is ‘what is it that removes Self-ignorance?’.

    Basically, all that you say is irrelevant if you are unable to answer the key question: How can nididhyAsana be a pramAna for Self-knowledge? Shankara himself clearly says that scriptural statements should not contradict reason. (‘Even a hundred Vedic texts cannot become valid if they assert that fire is cold or non-luminous!’). And Gaudapada said (3.22): ‘That which is settled by the shruti and supported by reasoning is true, and not anything else’.

    Only shravaNa can remove ignorance. manana and nididhyAsana are indeed supportive, and you may have to go through all three numbers of times – if that is the case, then you can say that ‘all three were necessary’ if it makes you happy. But only shravaNa provides knowledge; and only knowledge removes ignorance. You can sit in samAdhi for months on end but you will come out of it none the wiser. And you will not convince me otherwise, I’m afraid. Nor, I sincerely hope, will you mislead any of the visitors into thinking otherwise!

    Dennis

  15. Hi Dennis,

    I shall keep this reply really crisp.

    > Only shravaNa can remove ignorance (of Self)

    This is your view which is very clear. Please provide scriptural evidence that backs your view and if you do then I want to correct myself.

    On the other hand I want to provide evidence from Prastana Traya which directly contradicts your view and clearly states that “Shravana alone is NOT sufficient to gain Self-Knowledge”. This is what is conveyed by Katha Upanishad 1.2.23. It says

    nayamatma pravachanena labhyo
    na medhaya na bahuna srutena ……

    “This Atman (Self-Knowledge) cannot be attained by the study of Vedas nor by intelligence, nor by much HEARING. It is gained by him who chooses (prays to) this (Atman) alone. To him this Atman reveals its true nature”.

    I am using the translation of Swami Chinmayananda.

    I want to draw your attention to the words “na bahuna srutena” which means “nor by much HEARING”.

    > The question is ‘what is it that removes Self-ignorance?’

    This question of yours is answered by the very next verse of Katha Upanishad 1.2.24. It says

    “But he who has not turned away from bad conduct, whose senses are not subdued, whose mind is not concentrated, whose mind is not pacified, can never obtain this Atman by knowledge”.

    Mind should be in highest concentration and the mind should be pacified and be in tranquility to attain Atman. This is nothing but Nididyasana.

    I never used the word “Samadhi” in any of my replies here. You are assuming that Nididyasana means samadhi. No that is not true. I provided the definition of Nididyasana in my last reply which is meditation / concentration / contemplation. The above verse is also implying the same. Nididyasana, the single pointed concentration can be done with eyes closed or eyes open. Tranquility of the mind and at the same time the mind being in full Awareness or Consciousness is what has to be achieved after constant, determined and intense practice of Nididyasana.

    This is what is conveyed by another verse of Katha Upanishad 1.3.12.

    “The Atman is hidden in all beings and does not shine forth, but is seen by subtle seers through their sharp and subtle intellect”.

    One gains this sharp and subtle intellect after constant Nididyasana which is highly focused concentration.

    Let us consider another verse of Katha Upanishad 1.3.14 which was made popular by Swami Vivekananda.

    “Arise! Awake! Having reached the great (Teachers) learn (realise that Atman). Like the sharp edge of a razor is that path, difficult to cross and hard to tread – thus say the wise”.

    What is the sharp edge of a razor? It is staying concentrated and highly focused.

    Katha Upanishad 2.4.11 says “By mind alone this (Brahman) be obtained (realised)”.

    Thus it is Nididyasana, the mental action that provides the ultimate Self-Knowledge and removes Self-Ignorance. In my previous reply in point no. 3 I quoted several other Upanishads, BSB section 4.1 titled “Meditation” which you have been trying to use as a proof, the entire chapter 6 of BG on meditation, etc. all insist practicing Nididyasana to gain Self-Knowledge. Without Nididyasana it is not possible to become a Jnani.

    Why am I persistant in opposing the view “Shravana alone is sufficient to attain Self-Knowledge”?

    Because it is a very wrong view. It is dangerous and misleads one to believe that after just Shravana (hearing and reading) of scriptures for some time one can start proclaiming “I am Brahman”, “Now I know all that is there to be known”, “I am a Jnani”, etc.

    Though not deliberate and intentional, but once down the wrong road then all further theories that are built based on the initial wrong view also become wrong.

    Just to hold on to your view “Shravana alone is sufficient” and at the same time you do not want to completely ignore Nididyasana, so you start saying “Shravana is sufficient to become a Jnani” and “Nididyasana is required for a Jnani to become Jivanmukta” and these kind of views are not backed by any scriptures. I hope I am not misrepresenting you. I think that is what you tried to convey in your post “pratibandha-s-part 3 of 6” under the topic “Nididhyasana”.

    By Shravana one just merely knows that we all are Brahman. But frequently contemplating (Nididyasana) on what has been heard and understood, one finally attains / realizes the Self.

    Shravana and Manana assure us and provide the indirect knowledge (Paroksha Jnana) that we are Brahman. Nididyasana provides the direct knowledge (Aparoksha Jnana) and the realisation that “I am Brahman” and exist as Brahman itself which means to exist as Pure Consciousness.

    I sincerely request you to look up the terms “Paroksha Jnana” and “Aparoksha Jnana” and let me know in case if my understanding is not correct.

    Finally I want to again quote Katha Upanishad 1.2.23 which implies “This Atman (Self-Knowledge) cannot be attained by READING or by much HEARING”.

    If you still insist that “Shravana (hearing) alone is sufficient to attain Self-Knowledge” it will be in direct contradiction to KU 1.2.23.

    Regards
    Arun

  16. Hi Arun,

    It is interesting that you mention that the Katha Upanishad 1.3.14 quotation was “made popular by Swami Vivekananda” because you had previously indicated to Ramesam that “I said I have never read Vivekananda and found his “Complete Works” very terse and verbose”. Having done a little background research, I also find your remark to Ramesam very strange. The book that you co-wrote was also part-authored by Dr. Yogi Devaraj, who I now see is the founder President of ‘Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research & Holistic Health Trust’, who ‘for more than 20 years has been passionately pursuing his interests in Yoga’. Is it really possible that you jointly wrote a book with someone with whom you do not share at least some common beliefs?

    I here issue an apology. Having asked you to stick to the point, I am now clearly diverging myself. However, it does seem germane to our discussions. Vivekananda is a major source of confusion to seekers. His understanding began with his teacher Ramakrishna, who was a mystic – not at all a qualified sampradAya teacher. And Vivekananda was significantly influenced by science, the Brahmo Samaj (influenced by Christian Unitarianism) and Yoga Philosophy, all of which became incorporated into his (mis)representation of Advaita. Your own understanding is apparently gained merely from reading extensively for the past 15 years. Your real expertise would seem to be in science and software engineering. And then you become closely associated with someone who follows Vivekananda…

    The main point I would like to make here is one that I have made elsewhere. Scriptures, and even Shankara’s comments on them, are only as good as their translation. I have found all too often that a translation can entirely mislead, because the English words and sentence construction used are biased towards the translator’s own understanding of Advaita. I am just as susceptible to this problem as anyone else, because my Sanskrit knowledge is very limited. This is why I always try to find out the actual Sanskrit words used if there is a questionable interpretation. And I look at as many different versions of the text as I can so as to determine relative consistency. Fortunately, because of my involvement with an organization some years ago, together with 20 years of downloading material from the Internet, I have what is probably the largest library of Advaita books in the UK, so I usually have access to many versions.

    Now, to return to the question of shravaNa being the only source of Self-knowledge:

    I have never said that “shravaNa alone is sufficient to gain Self-Knowledge”. What I have said (several times now) is that, although one may have to go around the shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana (SMN) cycle many times, in the end it is the shravaNa that gives Self-knowledge and nothing else, because shravaNa is shabda pramANa; nididhyAsana is not a pramANa. You may quote as many scriptural passages as you like, and I need not quote any at all, but you cannot contradict this statement: nididhyAsana is not a pramANa.

    Furthermore, although I have not said this in this pratibandha thread (because I did not think it significant – I have said it many times elsewhere), you cannot even begin the SMN cycle unless you have been practising sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti for long enough to prepare the mind adequately. You quote Katha U. 1.2.24 “But he who has not turned away from bad conduct, whose senses are not subdued, whose mind is not concentrated, whose mind is not pacified, can never obtain this Atman by knowledge” and go on to say: “Mind should be in highest concentration and the mind should be pacified and be in tranquility to attain Atman. This is nothing but Nididyasana.”

    NO! It is sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti that has to be done in order to ‘subdue senses, concentrate mind’ etc. before embarking on SMN, NOT nididhyAsana.

    You quote Katha Up. 1.2.23 in support of your argument but have you interpreted it correctly? You give the translation: “This Atman (Self-Knowledge) cannot be attained by the study of Vedas nor by intelligence, nor by much HEARING. It is gained by him who chooses (prays to) this (Atman) alone. To him this Atman reveals its true nature”. You have capitalized ‘hearing’ but I would capitalize ‘chooses’. I suggest that what this mantra is in fact saying is that, unless one desires to realize Atman above else (‘chooses’ Atman), nothing one does in respect of shravaNa, manana or nididhyAsana is going to be of any use in gaining enlightenment. I.e. mumukShutva is the essential element of sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti.

    Essentially the same verse occurs in Mundaka 3.2.3 and Shankara comments:

    “For that wise man who chooses to attain Atma, Atma reveals its own superior real nature, which is covered by ignorance. Just as objects like pot etc. reveal themselves when light falls on them so also, in the presence of Atma j~nAnam, born from shAstra pramANa, the ignorance cover having been removed from it, the Atma becomes self-evident, as though it is revealing itself.”

    Katha Up. 1.2.24 merely reiterates what i have said – that you will not get (i.e. be qualified to get) enlightenment without doing sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti first. Ditto Katha 1.3.12 – both are nothing to do with nididhyAsana. And your ‘Vivekananda popularized’ 1.3.14 is the same. It is j~nAna yoga that is the ‘razor’s edge’. You have to do the sAdhana-s (karma yoga) and then approach a traditional teacher to embark on shravaNa-manana. Simply doing more karma will be of no avail.

    Your reference to Katha 2.4.11: “By mind alone could this (Brahman) be obtained (realised)” should actually be to Katha 2.1.11 (there is no fourth chapter). Realization occurs IN the mind and the mind is the INSTRUMENT for gaining Self-knowledge. Therefore the mind has to be purified by sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti before fruitful shravaNa-manana can be undertaken. Again, nothing whatsoever to do with nididhyAsana.

    I suggest that you forget about quoting more scriptural statements for a moment, especially since they are proving so misleading, and answer the following simple questions:

    1) Do you agree that we are all already ‘free’; we are already Atman/brahman?
    2) The problem is that we are ignorant of this?
    3) Therefore, what is needed is to remove this ignorance?
    4) In order to remove the ignorance, we need the input of some knowledge to cancel it?
    5) Action of any kind cannot remove ignorance because it is not opposed to it?
    6) It is scripture (ideally as interpreted by a qualified teacher) that is the only source of this knowledge?
    7) Listening to scripture explained by a qualified teacher is what is termed ‘shravaNa’?
    8) I leave you to draw your own conclusion.

    Your understanding of parokSha and aparokSha is also wrong. Shankara effectively differentiates parokSha and aparokSha j~nAna in his bhAShya on the Taittiriya Upanishad (brahmAnandavallI anuvAka 1). He explains that the shruti tells us that brahman cannot be known by the usual pramANa-s of perception etc. It tells us firstly that brahman is something to be known (vedyatayA); then it provides a ‘definition’ of satyam j~nAnam anantam. We thus come to know what Brahman is. This is the ‘intellectual’ sense of parokSha j~nAnam. In fact, of course, we are brahman but are still ignorant of this. shruti then tells us aham brahmAsmi and the realization of the truth of this is what is called aparokSha j~nAnam. This is what is meant by the statement that ‘the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman’.

    Finally, I do wish you would stop misconstruing what I say. I referred to samAdhi as an example of how far the ideas you express may take one. I didn’t say that you had mentioned it. I was certainly not suggesting that nididhyAsana meant samAdhi – this was where Vivekananda ended up!

    Regards,
    Dennis

  17. Hi Dennis,
    Please allow my comments to be posted.

    You can tear me apart as part of your reply . I shall promise that I wiill not post any reply.

    Defend yourself and be a man. Please don’t chicken out. I shall definitely honour my promise no matter what your reply is.

    Regards
    Arun

  18. I did not disallow your reply; it was blocked automatically by WordPress because it contained a link. But, having read it, I am calling a halt to this discussion. Your reply consisted of two elements: 1) promoting your book and 2) being personally abusive and again demonstrating failure to read and appreciate what I have been saying. I have now spent far too long repeatedly trying to explain the topic to you and asking you to respond to specific, simple questions. I have only had occasion once before to remove someone from the subscriber list but I am afraid you have to be the second.

  19. 1) BSB Bhasya 4.1.2: “Repetition will be unnecessary for one who can realise the Self as Brahman after hearing ‘That thou art’ once only. But for one who cannot do so, repetition is a necessity . . . Those of sharp intellect who have no obstruction like ignorance, doubt and confusion with regard to the object to be known can realise the meaning of ‘That thou art’ even from the first utterance, so that a repetition is certainly useless.”

    2) In a footnote to BSB Bhasya 1.1.4, Sw Gambhirananda writes:
    “Reflection and profound meditation are enjoined for one who does not realise from the first hearing . . . Thus hearing generates knowledge, and knowledge brings liberation. Reflection and meditation deal with the thing known from hearing. They are not meant for a fresh knowledge.”

    3) Sw Nikhilananda’s translation of Katha Up 23:
    “This Atman cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas; or by intelligence; or by much hearing of sacred books. It is attained by him alone whom It chooses. To such a one Atman reveals its own form.”

    Nikhilananda writes:
    “Atman, which is the seeker’s own Self, reveals its real nature to him, being pleased with his earnestness and devotion. As long as a man remains egotistic and desires to know Atman through such external means as scriptural knowledge or erudition he fails in his quest. When all external disciplines are proved inadequate, the earnest seeker then realises the futility of the ego and develops self-surrender, which makes possible the descent of the divine grace, resulting in the realisation of Truth.

    4) Sankara’s Upadesa Sahasri

    18.9: (An opponent’s view continued to verse 18). No permanent liberation results from the mere statement ‘thou art the real’. In order to achieve it one therefore should practice prolonged meditations combined with reasoning.

    18.19: But all this is not so, for the secret doctrine of the upanishads culminates in neti, neti. Goals which depend on activity are revealed in the earlier texts. But liberation is not such, for it is eternally in being.

    18.21: This erroneous super-imposition [of the ego-sense on the Self].though not a fact, appears to be a fact, and the text ‘neti, neti’ serves to prohibit its practice further. After that, no later injunction to (perform acts involving) superimposition is explicable on any grounds whatever.

    Alston, the translator writes:
    “Action of any kind involves the superimposition of the Self onto the not-self and vice versa. It is therefore contradictory to suppose that the Veda would prescribe action of any kind, such as meditation, in the context of the attainment of the highest knowledge.”

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