Pravishtha and apravishtha (Does Brahman actually enter an object?)
This is a dialog between guru ParAshara and shishya Maitreya from Swami VishudhAnanda’s book “PakshapAta-rahita Anubhava”. (Parashara says to Maitreya):
Hey shishya remember that you are Self-illuminated Atma. When objects in this world are formed from five elements one can say that these elements actually enter (pravishtha) in the objects and one can also say they are do not enter (apravishtha) in the objects – like gold in ornaments is pravishtha or also apravishtha; mud is pravishtha in the pot or also apravishtha; the rope is pravishtha in the illusive snake or also aprvishtha; the witness of the dream is pravishtha in the dream world or aprvishtha. Similarly, you the name & forms based substratum on which the world is superimposed (namrupatmak vivarta-upadan-karana), Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Atma is pravishtha in the imaginary, names & forms based objects and also apravishtha.
I will explain how it is pravishtha. There is not a single element of any ornament in this names & forms based world that is not occupied, pervaded or apart from the gold that is Brahman. In other words, you the Existence-Consciouness-Bliss (Asti-Bhati-Priyam) Atma is the gold that is pervaded in objects or the ornaments in such a manner that there is nothing apart from gold (that is you). You can say that for the wise ones there is total elimination of of names & forms (atyantabhAva) in ornaments; all they see is gold. Without Brahman the gold, you will not be able to find any ornaments. But in every ornament you will find gold only. That is why we say that gold the Brahman is pravishtha in the ornaments.
Now why is it apravishtha also? The act of entering takes place between two entities. And in this case there aren’t any two – Asti-Bhati-Priyam Brahman the gold and names & forms based ornaments are not apart. In conclusion, this act of entering (PravishthApan) between Brahman the gold and ornaments (objects) is not possible. PravishthApan has been introduced for the sake of ignorant seekers who cannot grasp the opposite concepts of pravishtha/apravishtha fitting in one section (adhikarana). The presence of all pervasive Brahman the substratum of all objects is not obvious to the seekers (mumukshus); they predominantly see names & forms only. The concept of pravishthapana is only a trick to:
- Illustrate and emphasize continuity-like a thread in necklace (anusyutata), non-attachment (asangata); reality (satyarupata) and predominance of advait (non-duality).
- Negate imaginary names & forms based universe (kalpit namarupatmak prapancha).
- Negate the possibility of existence of anything other than the substratum Brahman.
- Illustrate that appearance of the objects is only possible because of the presence of the substratum Brahman.
This is all done for the benefit of seekers. The wise ones know that there is no such thing as pravishtha or apravishtha in Atma!
I have noted that the discussion on pravishta and apravishta from PakshapAta Rahita Anubhava resonates with the cause/effect discussion in Aparokshanubhuti by Y. S. Srinivas Rao. The fundamental idea is that VivartavAda – names and forms (effects) are only an appearance of Consciousness (cause), and since the effect is not different from the cause, there is no cause and no effect!
कार्ये हि कारणं पश्येत्पश्चात्कार्यं विसर्जयेत् ।
कारणत्वं स्वतो नश्येदवशिष्टं भवेन्मुनिः ॥ — 139, aparokshAnubhuti.
[One should verily see the cause in the effect, and dismiss the effect altogether. The Sage himself then becomes what remains.] By following the methodology recommended by Shankara, we will begin to see the cause in the effect. As the process continues, seeing the effect will get dropped altogether and all that will be seen is the cause only. Eventually it will dawn on us that, when there is no effect, there is no cause too because the relationship between cause and effect is correlative. Hence, both cause and effect will disappear. When cause and effect disappear, what remains is Brahman, Pure Awareness.
This is quite an important step for me in crossing from “I (the Brahman) am the witness of this world” to “I and the world/objects are not apart”. The final take away for me is that whatever you see (hear, feel…) is Brahman only!
Acknowledgements: Ramesam & Padma Neppalli for their helpful comments!