‘sAdhana in Advaita’ – 5/6:

[Part – 4/6]

‘pratyabhijna’ and ‘pravilApana’ form the two limbs of Advaita sAdhana. We have to practice these two with full involvement and clear understanding. Total commitment and unswerving focus are necessary for this practice to happen.

All our thoughts are the particulars sparkling out of the Knowingness. If we look at our thoughts from the stance of Knowingness, everything that is noticed including the body will dissolve in that vision. It is pravilApana.

We have to keep paying attention to the Beingness everywhere. Be focused on the all-pervading space-like Beingness which is present at every spot and ignore the form that pops up at each locus. It is important that we should not look at the Beingness as if it is an object sitting out there. We should get the feel that it is “I” as Beingness and Knowingness that is present at each locus. Such a vision requires total involvement.

“What “I” am is my “Knowing”; Knowing is Being. When I know that I am, that spark of the presence of the Knowing arises inside. When I know the things out there, my ‘Knowingness’ appears as though going outside. But because I am my Knowingness, effectively, I am coming out from inside riding on my Knowingness.” This is the way to experientially feel and expand ourselves. We should keep expanding ourselves as we cognize our Self in every name and form. As we expand thus, all the objects fade into us. Right now, they look solid because we are looking at them with the feeling that they are solid. Practice dissolving the ‘solidity and form.’ Keep looking from the position of Beingness and Knowingness alternately.

The melting process may begin with ‘mithyAtmA’ inside and then proceed to melt the things outside (the gauNAtmA). Alternately, we may start with the melting of the things outside and then melt the mithyAtmA. One can proceed either way.

We have to be ever attentive to the spark of Knowingness in us. This spark extends outside the body too. Wherever that spark of Knowingness is present, “I” am present there. We have to constantly pay attention to that ‘spark’ of Knowingness or Beingness. This is the true Advaitic samAdhi. or nididhyAsana – be able to see, as explained by Shankara at 1.1.5, sUtra bhAShya, that all that is inside, outside as well as in-between (i.e. the body) to be non-different from brahman.

It needs to be emphasized that the seeker must be able to see the body as well as the objects of the world without any difference from (as sajAti to) brahman. It is not enough just to see the thoughts inside to be of the nature of the Self. Nor is it adequate to see the outside world to be the Self. In-between these two lies the body. We should not forget the body. Body is the biggest impediment. We must be able to extricate ourselves from the feel of being inside the body and view the body as one of the objects in the world. It would not serve any purpose so long as we still locate ourselves inside the body and think that everything outside is Self. It is not actually possible to see the world as the Self, if we confine ourselves within the body. It would imply that we are a finite entity. As a finite entity, we cannot ‘see’ (experience) the Infinity. When we can mentally extricate our self from being within the limits of the body, we will not be confined to any one single location. We will be expansive like space, permeating and pervading all that is!

When we ask “Where am I?,” the “I” in the answer usually refers to the dehAtmA (body-self). We have to cultivate the ‘sarvAtmabhAva’ (“I am All that IS”). The Dakshinamurti stotra (hymn) written by Shankara tells us that the ‘sarvAtmabhAva’ is Unity with the Universe:

सर्वात्मत्वमिति स्फुटीकृतमिदं यस्मादमुष्मिन् स्तवे

तेनास्य श्रवणात्तदर्थमननाद्‍ध्यानाच्च सङ्कीर्तनात्

सर्वात्मत्वमहाविभूतिसहितं स्यादीश्वरत्वं स्वतः 

सिद्‍ध्येत्तत्पुनरष्टधा परिणतं चैश्वर्यमव्याहतम्     —  verse 10, Dakshinamurti stotra.

[Meaning: The verse points out to the all pervasiveness of the indwelling Spirit, Atman . By the recital, contemplation and meditation of this hymn, the disciple attains the state of oneness with Atman and realizes Its Unity with the Universe, thus becoming the very essence of the eightfold blessings.]

We have to recognize and realize the fact that “I am not merely confined to the inside of the body but I am present permeating everything everywhere.” Till that is attained, one will have innumerable doubts and questions. As long as I am identified with the body, everything else will be seen to be different from ‘me.’ We think that the Supreme Self is somewhere apart from ‘me’ at a remote location and that we have to make tremendous effort to reach It. As a result, we become vulnerable to multiple problems. The moment “I” see myself to be omnipresent, as the sat-cit that is everywhere, “I” will be the Supreme Self.

When the individual dissolves in the “I” that is now the Supreme Self, the separate-self fades away. The world too fades away like the objects in a dream. A Jivanmukta sees the world in that faded form. The world will not fully disappear for a Jivanmukta because the body still present as an adjunct.

Practicing in this manner, we remain as the substratum Knowledge. We will be an embodiment of Knowledge itself, and not confined to a gross body.  We will be an expansive body that pervades everything. It is called as “mahima” in the chAndogya Upanishad.

भगवः कस्मिन्प्रतिष्ठित इति स्वे महिम्नि यदि वा  महिम्नीति  — 7.24.1, chAndogya Upanishad.

[Meaning:  Revered sir, wherein does that rest? In Its own Majesty, or not in Majesty.]

Questioned by Sage Narada, Sage Saunaka replies that the Supreme Self is Its own expansion. The word ‘mahima’ means to spread. So Self exists in Its pervasion. We may say that the earth is in space. We may say that the Sun is in space. But where does space exist? It exists in its expansion, its spread. Space exists by itself. No container holds the space.

Likewise, “I am in the form of sat.” The “I” is Knowingness. The “am” is Beingness. The “I” in this sentence is not the finite I identified with the body, but the all-pervasive “I.” It is the “I” who is everything. This “I” has to be constantly meditated upon, thought over. We should consider ourselves to be spread everywhere and not confined. The only tool we have for this sAdhana is the mind. Hence, we have to practice using the mind. Rituals, rites, worship, yoga etc. involving the sense and motor organs will not help in this process.

There is only the Self (“I”) appearing as Beingness and Knowingness everywhere. Feel that the “I” is omnipresent. The presence refers to sat. “I” is Knowing. It is cit. We feel that the objects that we are seeing around are present. Who is it that thinks so? It is “I”, Knowingness, that thinks so. Being seated at a specific point, how are we able to know something at a distance? How are we able to see the entire room we are in?


ज्ञानं यस्य तु चक्षुरादिकरणद्वारा बहिः स्पन्दते

जानामीति तमेव भान्तमनुभात्येतत्समस्तं जगत्

तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥ — verse 4, Dakshinamurti stotra.

[Meaning:  He whose light gleams through the senses like the light emanating from a pot with holes (in which a lamp is kept), He whose knowledge alone brings the state of knowing (I am That), He whose brightness makes everything shine – to that DakShinamurti, who is embodied in the auspicious Guru, I offer my profound salutation.]

As Shankara says, our Knowingness spreads out through our senses everywhere. Otherwise, we would not have known anything. And remember that the Knowingness is our Self Itself! So, if it is said that the Knowingness ‘spreads,’ it means that “I” am spreading. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are expanding with each of our cognitions. We should proceed experientially feeling our own expansion. Then our body too fades into our Self. There is no Advaita sAdhana so long we stay confined to our body. We have to cross the boundaries of our body for Non-dual practice. Recognizing the substratum is pratyabhijna and dissolving all that is into the Knowingness is pravilApana.

When everything is dissolved, “I” alone remain. That is advaita. That is the Non-dual Self-realization. We must be able to taste It while we are still alive.


(To Continue ….  Part – 6/6)

7 thoughts on “‘sAdhana in Advaita’ – 5/6:

  1. Hi Ramesam,

    You said

    “The melting process may begin with ‘mithyAtmA’ inside and then proceed to melt the things outside (the gauNAtmA). Alternately, we may start with the melting of the things outside and then melt the mithyAtmA. One can proceed either way”.

    I do not think this is correct. When the Self-Realisation happens then in one stroke both mithyAtma and gauNAtma are melted. That means the entire mithya Jagat which includes this world, body, mind and the ego-self vanishes or loses significance when the Self-Realisation happens.

    All the things you say about every name and form and the gauNAtma are correct and this knowledge is important to do the Sadhana. My point is that “Everything is Brahman”, “The substratum of this entire universe is Brahman”, “Brahman alone is”, etc. are important knowledge but still it is an objective knowledge. That means it is just like the knowledge that “Our solar system has nine planets”, “earth revolves around the sun”, etc. “Brahman alone is” is a knowledge or concept that should be understood but it is just like any other objective knowledge.

    But realising that “I am Brahman” is a SUBJECTIVE knowledge and it is not like all other objective knowledge. When this knowledge dawns the mithyatwa of Jagat is understood well and hence the Jagat loses its significance. Just like a person watching a movie knows that it is after all a movie and remains unaffected by the movie, a Jnani sees this Jagat as a drama or movie and remains unaffected by it though the Vyavaharika satya is very much present.

    Finally this may not be directly related to your post but I want to stress the point which Dennis tried to touch upon in his post “Who am I” which is whenever we use “I” it should always refer to the named person and should NOT refer to “I am Brahman”. I feel that we should never talk from the Brahman point of view but at several places in this website I have noticed the statements being made from Brahman point of view. For example, the question “Who is helping? Who needs to be helped?” seems correct if somebody is asking those questions from the Brahman point of view meaning when everything is Brahman then who is helping? or who needs to helped?

    Actually this is absurd. Do we not send our children to school or college? If we assume Brahman’s point of view then we can say “Who is teaching? Who needs to be taught?”. So we should stop sending children to school which is sheer absurdity. That’s why “Everything is Brahman” is a knowledge that needs to be understood, intuited but we can never make a statement from Brahman’s point of view.


    • Thank you for the observations, Arun.
      I agree with much of what you say.

      Perhaps the speaker was referring to a ‘practice’ of pravilApana by a seeker prior to the achievement of the ‘tipping point’ when he was referring to the dissolution of the sense of me and mine.

      And, more in a lighter vein, is not the entire BG a statement from the brahman’s POV! 🙂


  2. Hi Ramesam,

    Though you mentioned it in lighter vein you have actually made a very important point. Yes. In Bhagavad Gita all the verses told by Lord Krishna are from Brahman’s point of view. My humble opinion is only Krishna / Brahman is entitled and can make such statements and even a highly evolved Self-Realised Jnani cannot make such statements.

    For example, in one of the verses Krishna says “Arjuna, both you and I have had several lives before. You do not remember any of them whereas I am aware of all of them”. A Self-Realised Jnani can never make such a statement, only Krishna can.

    Another common this we come across sentences like “When a Jnani realises Self, he sees Self everywhere”. This statement may be technically correct but could be confusing for an ordinary person. If the same statement is rephrased as “When a Jnani realises that he is a nameless, formless, Conscious entity then he understands that everyone else is also powered by the same Conscious entity”. Now this statement is technically as well as logically correct and makes it easy for anybody to understand.


  3. Hi Arun,

    I would have really wished that we don’t get into this ‘snare’ of a discussion, for it could be unending and without any clear conclusion. But I am tempted to post a rejoinder because I felt that there is a little bit of a misunderstanding lurking somewhere in what you wrote.

    It is not to deny what you said. You may be right and it is me who is a bit unclear.

    When Sage Vyasa has given a “voice” to brahman and a personification as Krishna, does it mean the Sage compromised and made Krishna say certain things that a “Self-Realised Jnani can never make ?”


  4. Hi Ramesam,

    I honestly think that we are having an important discussion which is helping me to clarify more clearly the point I am trying to make. I do not think this needs to be an unending discussion.

    You are right when you said “Sage Vyasa has given a ‘voice’ to Brahman and a personification as Krishna”. But I do not think that Vyasa compromised anything. What is said in BG where Krishna speaks in first person is correct and is required for our understanding.

    My point is we come across sentences like “after Realisation the Jnani knows that ‘I am Brahman’ or Jnani becomes ‘one with Brahman’, etc. Though these sentences are correct, they could also be misleading because of the language used. To put it in simple terms these sentences could be misunderstood as after Realisation one becomes Brahman itself or in other words one becomes Lord Krishna himself. I think this interpretation is wrong. IMO after Realisation the Jnani clearly identifies himself with the nameless, formless, Conscious entity called Atman / Brahman that is powering his body and mind and stops identifying himself with the ego-self, mind and body. After this knowledge the Jnani though sees names and forms just like any other person, clearly understands that the substratum of all those forms is the same Conscious entity called Brahman.

    Krishna as Brahman can say “I am the indweller of all beings” but a Jnani cannot say it. At best the Jnani can say “The indweller in me or my body is the same indweller of all beings”.

    The famous first line of Purusha Suktha which is “Sahasra-Shirsaa Purushah Sahasra-Aksah Sahasra-Paat” meaning the Purusha has thousands of (innumerable) heads, thousands of eyes and thousands of feet. This only Brahman can say (given a voice) and in BG Krishna not only says it he also shows it to Arjuna as his Vishwarupa. A Jnani can never claim he has thousands of heads. At best a Jnani can say that “I am not my body and mind. I am the Conscious entity called Brahman and this Conscious entity called Brahman has thousands of heads and my head is one of them”.

    When I first happened to read statements such as “I am Brahman” or “You are already Brahman” I used to wonder whether after Self-Realization do I become Krishna? or am I already Krishna?

    Just took this opportunity to express my understanding.


  5. Dear Arun,

    You say: “I honestly think that we are having an important discussion which is helping me to clarify more clearly the point I am trying to make.”

    So very kind of you. Thank you very much. Needless to say, it’s true for me too.

    You say: “… after Realisation one becomes Brahman itself or in other words one becomes Lord Krishna himself. I think this interpretation is wrong. … … … At best the Jnani can say “The indweller in me or my body is the same indweller of all beings”.

    I may sound a bit frivolous. I want to share a little anecdote in this context. Please do not mind.

    In the Government (in India) promotions for the staff are usually very late and delayed. It had been like that for a long long time, particularly during the British Raj. It was okay for the few who occupied the higher echelons in the departments and had had a Royal life because the number of the staff was very small and they were the privileged ‘class’ in those Halcyon days.

    But independence coming and Govt. taking more and more works, there was quite a sudden spurt in the staff. People used to rot doing the same thing without improvement of their perks, positions or privileges. This led to lot of disinterest and lack of motivations for the staff.

    But to promote so many would imply a big financial burden for the Govt. which was already running on a deficit budget. So, cleverly, they introduced an intermediary step between almost every two posts —

    An Assistant Executive Engineer between Assistant Engineer and the Executive Engineer;

    A Director between a Deputy Secretary and a Joint Secretary;

    An Additional Secretary between a Joint Secretary and Secretary

    An Additional Munsiff between a Munsiff and a Judge

    And even a crazy Extra Assistant Engineer (Addl) and so on.

    You get the drift.

    Do we need to have such additional “posts” or positions in spiritual development too?

    Do we need to create an intermediate position of a jnAni as Self-realized but not yet brahman, though we have 3.2.9, muNDaka saying “ब्रह्म वेद ब्रह्मैव भवति”?

    Why not leave it just with ‘On or Off’ binary mode – one is Self-realized or not. Like pregnancy.

    Dr. Greg Goode responded equally in a humerous tone: “Yes, let’s have an Interim Assistant Executive Jivanmukta position!”

    For fun only.
    Please don’t shoot me (unless for fun!!!)


  6. Hi Ramesam,

    As you mentioned earlier I definitely do not want this to be an unending discussion. So I shall rest my case after this comment. I shall let you have the last word if you would like to do so 🙂

    I was not suggesting any gradation at all. I do not know where I implied gradation or intermediate position. It would also be nice that in our replies if we try to reply to all the points mentioned by the other person. For example, you tried to reply to my “indweller” example but left out the Purusha Suktha example where it says “Brahman has millions of heads”.

    As mentioned by you according to Mundaka 3.2.9 a Self-realized person realizes that “I am Brahman”. I am in complete agreement with this. So there is no dispute or any kind of gradation.

    Now coming to my point, the sentence “I am Brahman” could be misunderstood. How? Here are three examples.

    1. According to BG Krishna (Brahman) says “Arjuna, I know all the previous lives of mine”. Now my question is does a Self-Realized Jnani suddenly knows all his previous lives immediately after obtaining the knowledge of Self-Realization?

    2. According to BG Krishna (Brahman) says “I am the indweller of all beings”. After Self-Realization can a Jnani also say “I am the indweller of all beings”?

    3. According to Purusha Suktha and Vishwarupa description of BG the Brahman has thousands of heads. Now can a Jnani also say “I have thousands of heads”?

    Though a Jnani is entitled to say “I am Brahman” but in my opinion the answers to all the above three questions is NO. If you dispute this then please express it clearly saying that in your opinion the answers to all the above three questions is YES.

    To put my point in another way here are two statements.

    1. I agree that a Jnani can say “I am Brahman”. I (A) = Brahman (B)
    2. Brahman has thousands of heads. Brahman (B) = Thousands of heads (C).

    According to the transitive law of logic and mathematics, if A=B and B=C then A=C. My point is such kind of deduction should not be made in case of Self-Realization.

    In the above case, A=C means a Jnani can say “I have thousands of heads” but that would be absurd. All the various explanations in the texts are for us to understand. Actually after Self-Realization a Jnani does not even say “I am Brahman”. He just realizes that and enjoys “being” as Brahman.

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