‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 2/5

Part – 1

In this and the next two parts of the Series, we shall try to map the occurrence of the word सर्वात्मभाव (sarvAtambhAva) in the prasthAna trayI and/or the Shankara bhAShaya-s there on so that the meaning of the word stands out by itself in its usage and the context.

1. IshAvAsya Upanishad:

मानुषदैववित्तसाध्यं फलं शास्त्रलक्षणं प्रकृतिलयान्तम् ; एतावती संसारगतिः  अतः परं पूर्वोक्तम्आत्मैवाभूद्विजानतःइति सर्वात्मभाव एव सर्वैषणासंन्यासज्ञाननिष्ठाफलम् — Shankara’s introductory words to 15, Isha.U.

Meaning: It is indicated by the scriptures that absorption into prakRiti is the highest result attainable through human and divine wealth. Up to this is the course of worldly existence. Beyond this is the identification with the Self in all, as indicated earlier in the verse: “When to the man of realization, all beings become the very Self” (Isha 7), which is the result of devotion to the Knowledge after denouncing all desires.

2.  taittirIya Upanishad:

 मार्गश्च सर्वात्मभावप्रतिपत्तये वक्तव्य इत्यनुवाक आरभ्यते  Shankara in
his Intro to 1.6.1, taitti.U.

Meaning: The way to the realization (of brahman) as ‘the Self of all’ has to be stated. Hence, this chapter begins.

3.  aitareya Upanishad:

(i)   ऊर्ध्वः परमात्मभूतः सन् अधोभवात्संसारात् उत्क्रम्य ज्ञानावद्योतितामलसर्वात्मभावमापन्नः सन् अमुष्मिन् यथोक्ते अजरेऽमरेऽमृतेऽभये सर्वज्ञेऽपूर्वेऽनपरेऽनन्तरेऽबाह्ये प्रज्ञानामृतैकरसे स्वर्गे लोके स्वस्मिन्नात्मनि स्वे स्वरूपे
अमृतः समभवत् आत्मज्ञानेन पूर्वमाप्तकामतया जीवन्नेव सर्वान्कामानाप्त्वा इत्यर्थः  
2.4.6, ait.U.B.

He, Urdhvah (‘san), having already become identified with the Supreme Self; (then) ‘utkramya,’ having ascended higher up as compared with the lowly worldly state, becoming established in the state of the pure, all-pervasive Self, shining with Knowledge; ‘amuShmin,’ in that Reality, which was described as ageless, deathless, immortal, fearless, and omniscient, which has no cause or effect; inside or outside, which is of the nature of the unalloyed nectar of Consciousness; he became merged like the blowing out of a lamp. He ‘smabhavat,’ became ‘amRitah,’ immortal; ‘svarge loke,’ in his own Self, in his own Reality; ‘sarvAn kAmAn AptvA,’ after the attainment of all the desires; that is to say, after having got all the desirable things, even earlier (when still living), by virtue of his becoming desireless through the Knowledge of the self.

(ii)   ब्रह्मविद्यासाधनकृतसर्वात्मभावफलावाप्तिं वामदेवाद्याचार्यपरम्परया पारम्पर्यश्रुत्यावद्योत्यमानां ब्रह्मवित्परिषद्यत्यन्तप्रसिद्धाम् उपलभमाना मुमुक्षवो ब्राह्मणा अधुनातनाः ब्रह्म जिज्ञासवः अनित्यात्साध्यसाधनलक्षणात्संसारात् जीवभावाद्व्याविवृत्सवो विचारयन्तः अन्योन्यं पृच्छन्ति   Shankara at his Intro to 3.5.1, ait.U.B.

Meaning: The Brahmins of the present time desirous of emancipation, and wishing to acquire the fruit of becoming the Self of all; by means of the Knowledge of brahman, enlightened by the traditional teachings of the preceptors, Vamadeva and the rest, wishing to know the brahman and desirous of turning away from the bondage of saMsAra, ephemeral and characterized by causes and effects, ask each other to inquire … (Trans: S. Sitarama Sastri).

4.  chAndogya Upanishad:

वै मुक्तः स्वरूपापन्नः अविद्याकृतदेहेन्द्रियमनोवियुक्तः सर्वात्मभावमापन्नः सन् एष व्योमवद्विशुद्धः सर्वेश्वरो मनउपाधिः सन् एतेनैवेश्वरेण मनसा एतान्कामान् सवितृप्रकाशवत् नित्यप्रततेन दर्शनेन पश्यन् रमते   8.12.5, chAn.U.B.

Meaning: sah, he; vai, indeed, who becomes free, who attains his own nature, who becomes free from body, organs, and mind created by ignorance, and attains the state of being the Self of all, eShah, such a one, having become pure like space, the Lord of all, and having the mind as the limiting adjunct; ramate, enjoys, etAn kAmAn, these desires; etena, through this mind which is the lord (of all the organs); pashyan, seeing with a vision eternally spread like the light of the Sun.

5.  brihadAraNyaka Upanishad:

(i)   यथा कर्मविषये फलप्राप्तिं ध्रुवां कर्मभ्यो मन्यन्तेतथा ब्रह्मविद्यायाः  सर्वात्मभावफलप्राप्तिं ध्रुवामेव मन्यन्ते, वेदप्रामाण्यस्योभयत्राविशेषात् ; — 1.4.9, BUB.

Meaning:  As those seekers think with regard to rites that they would bring sure results, similarly they think that the Knowledge of brahman is sure to lead to identity with All, for the Vedas are equally the authority for both. [“All” is explained by Swami Madhavanana to mean “Infinite Existence.”]

(ii)   तस्माद्युक्तं ब्रह्मेति ब्रह्मभावी पुरुष उच्यत इति चेत्, ब्रह्मोपदेशानर्थक्यप्रसङ्गात्संसारी चेद्ब्रह्मभावी अब्रह्म सन् , विदित्वात्मानमेव अहं ब्रह्मास्मीति, सर्वमभवत्; तस्य संसार्यात्मविज्ञानादेव  सर्वात्मभावस्य फलस्य सिद्धत्वात्परब्रह्मोपदेशस्य ध्रुवमानर्थक्यं प्राप्तम् — 1.4.10, BUB.

Meaning: If a man subject to transmigration and only aspiring to be identified with brahman became all by knowing himself to be brahman, although he was not It, then instruction about the Supreme brahman is certainly useless, for he attained identity with all as a result of knowing only the transmigrating self, and the Knowledge of the Supreme brahman is never utilized for attaining human ends.

(iii)   अस्या ब्रह्मविद्यायाः सर्वभावापत्तिः फलमित्येतस्यार्थस्य द्रढिम्ने मन्त्रानुदाहरति श्रुतिः  कथम् ? तत् ब्रह्म एतत् आत्मानमेव अहमस्मीति पश्यन् एतस्मादेव ब्रह्मणो दर्शनात् ऋषिर्वामदेवाख्यः प्रतिपेदे प्रतिपन्नवान्किल ; एतस्मिन्ब्रह्मात्मदर्शनेऽवस्थितः एतान्मन्त्रान्ददर्शअहं मनुरभवं सूर्यश्चेत्यादीन्  तदेतद्ब्रह्म पश्यन्निति ब्रह्मविद्या परामृश्यते ; अहं मनुरभवं सूर्यश्चेत्यादिना सर्वभावापत्तिं ब्रह्मविद्याफलं परामृशति ; पश्यन्सर्वात्मभावं फलं प्रतिपेदे इत्यस्मात्प्रयोगात् ब्रह्मविद्यासहायसाधनसाध्यं मोक्षं दर्शयतिभुञ्जानस्तृप्यतीति यद्वत्  — 1.4.10, BUB. 

Meaning: To strengthen the import of the passage that this knowledge of brahman leads to identity with all, the shruti quotes some Mantras. How? The sage called Vamadeva, while realizing this, his own self, as identical with That, brahman, knew, from this realization of brahman, i.e., in that state of realization of the identity of the self and brahman, visualized these Mantras, ‘I was Manu, and the Sun,’ etc. (R. 4.24.1). The expression, ‘While realizing this (self) as That’ – brahman – refers to the Knowledge of brahman. And the words, ‘I was Manu, and the Sun,’ refer to its result, identity with all. By the use of the form, 1 ‘While realizing’ It he attained this result, viz. identity with all, the shruti shows that liberation is attainable through the aid of the Knowledge of brahman, as in the expression, ‘While eating he is getting satisfaction.

[Note: Translations are adopted from the works of Swami Gambhirananda (for all the Upanishads except as mentioned) and brahmasUtra-s / Swami Madhavananda (for brihadAraNyaka / A.M. Sastri (for BG) / S. Sitarama Sastri (for aitareya).]

(To Continue … Part – 3) 

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