‘brahman,’ the Bliss – 2/2

Everyone must face the consequences of his/her actions. But who is it that ensures it? Who brings a guy back, once he is dead, and make him reap his just desserts?

The scripture only can provide an answer. And the answer is:   

विज्ञानमानन्दं ब्रह्म … |  —  3.9.28 (7), brihadAranyaka

Meaning:  Knowledge, Bliss, brahman.

Shankara explains that It is Pure Intelligence and is also Bliss. It is a Bliss not smitten with pain. It is serene, beneficent, matchless, spontaneous, ever content and homogeneous, he amplifies.

Shankara, however, says, we cannot close the issue at that. We should explore and understand better what exactly the word “Bliss” would mean.

In our normal parlance, “the word ‘bliss’ is generally known to denote pleasure.” The shruti uses the word ‘bliss’ as an adjective to brahman. Can we infer from this that shruti says brahman is pleasurable?

Here are a few more examples where the Upanishads talk of brahman and Bliss: Continue reading

‘brahman,’ the Bliss – 1/2

Ha, finally, a gentle streak of relief seems to have descended on to the faces of the assembled august Audience, sitting on the edge of their seats for hours with knotted foreheads, wide-open eyes and mouths, waiting in tension for the next onslaught of verbal missiles. None in the Royal Assembly could answer the final question of the Challenger and that decided what was at stake for the day. The fierce war of words seems to have come to a close with the well-statured Pundit, an embodiment of Knowledge Supreme, just began to take slow and steady steps, along with a horde of his disciples, followers and admirers, towards the exit door of the Royal Court. The gathered experts started to wipe the drops of sweat on their bald pates, foreheads and chest using their upper garment as a hand towel. Rolls of murmurs and exchanges opened up among small groups of the men, cascading into unclear sounds. Some people were talking within themselves or speaking to nobody in particular as they recapitulated the dense moments and the profound depths of the discussions. Continue reading

brihadAraNyaka, 2.4.12-13:

Dennis made the following observations in a Comment at another thread @ 17:52 on Dec 23, 2020.


You have also misunderstood Shankara’s commentary on Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.13. What it is saying is that when the body-mind of a j~nAnI dies, the chidAbhAsa consciousness dies with it, since there is no longer a mind to reflect the ‘original’ Consciousness. It does not say anything at all about the world disappearing or about the individual j~nAnI in any way disappearing prior to death of the body. The chidAbhAsa for the j~nAnI will continue until death. The world will continue to be seen by that j~nAnI even though it is now known to be mithyA.

Quote ends.

I am afraid that the view expressed by Dennis above lacks shruti and bhAShya support. Perhaps, it resembles the confusion that Maitreyi had when she listened to her husband, Sage Yajnavalkya, at 2.4.12, brihadAraNyaka. Continue reading

Q.491 Individuality and the world

Q: Does individuality survive enlightenment? In other words, putting aside any genetic differences, age, etc., would 50 realized people act the same in the same environment? Would they have the same preference for food, clothes, etc?

If not, why not? It seems that If the ego is completely destroyed, and a soul does not exist, and a person is in a permanent state of enlightenment, there wouldn’t be any difference between any of them. (My definition of an ego includes all past experiences.)

In addition, people often say something like, “I always wanted to do that,” or “Deep inside I always knew I would be a doctor or a scientist,” etc. What is that? Where does this “knowing” come from? Is it just an ego playing its games? 

Thank you, I appreciate your help. Your books are really great. I’ve enjoyed reading them.

A: Good questions! But, before I answer them, you have to always bear in mind that questions like these refer to the appearance, not the reality; vyavahAra, not paramArtha. In reality, no one has ever been born; there is no ‘creation’; there is only Brahman. (I’m assuming from what you say that you have read ‘A-U-M’, in which case you will be happy with this!) So the answers are academic, in line with traditional Advaita, but are all mithyA in reality.  Continue reading

Q.463 Individual consciousness

Q: Dennis, I have deep question that in fact no one can answer to me. I can accept that I am consciousness in which appearances take place that are in fact manifestations of my own consciousness. I can accept that unbounded universe of my consciousness is in fact my consciousness. This phenomenal universe exists in my waking state and disappears in deep sleep.

I am consciousness all the time. It is OK and understood. BUT I also understand that all these experiences and states belong to ONLY MY INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
I mean that others have other experiences. They have their own phenomenal universes, their own states in their own consciousnesses! And I have no access to them.

There is existence of many various individual consciousnesses perceiving various things. So can we say that there is no SINGLE Absolute I and no SINGLE consciousness?

A: All problems of understanding in this sort of question arise because of a confusion between ‘absolute reality’ and the ‘apparent world’.

You begin by saying that “I have a deep question“. This ‘I’ refers to the mind of the person (Fred) in the world. All these things – mind, person, Fred, world – are mithyA. They have no absolute reality. They depend upon the absolute reality for their existence. They are name and form of the non-dual Consciousness. Continue reading

Tattvabodha – Part 22

Part 22 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.

The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.

Part 22 begins the enquiry into the statement ‘That thou art’ (tat tvam asi) and looks at the differences between AtmA and jIva.

There is a hyperlinked Contents List, which is updated as each new part is published.

Life is a dream – The world is real


A. Of course, if everything is like a dream (mithyA), then the sages and their scriptures are a part of that dream. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the teachings and the scriptures are not useful for awakening from the dream.

B. That is true, in my understanding. ‘Life is a Dream’ (Calderón de la Barca’s play), ‘All the world’s a stage’ (Shakespeare). As to Vedanta, here is what a sage (among so many others) has said: “Vedanta plays the role of the dream lion in this world. Vedantic knowledge itself is part of the illusory world. But then it dissolves the entire illusion of this world, revealing reality as it is.” Sw. Parthsarathy.

A. If no one dies, then no one is enlightened either, and yet we still talk as if people really do die and really do become enlightened.

B. True also. That modifier, ‘as if’, is crucial.

In the next para. you write: “…an individual who appears to exist while not really existing (AS AN INDIVIDUAL) has appeared to become enlightened while not really being enlightened (AS THE PURPORTED INDIVIDUAL).” I have taken the liberty of adding the capital letters, for advaitic sense. Further, while ‘everybody is enlightened’, as Neo advaitins claim, ‘no one is enlightened’, as the sage Gaudapada declared. Are these two seemingly contradictory statements true – and in what sense? *

A. I think the problem with brain damage is the possibility that a j~nAnI [sage] would lose most or all of the knowledge (including Self-knowledge) that he gained through his studies.

B. This is as seen from the vyavaharika (empirical) perspective, which cannot be denied (only understood). Jñani/s (sages) also experience thoughts and emotions. With them, these either quickly disappear, or are transmuted or resolved into consciousness; in fact, they are only consciousness, as mind is also a projection of consciousness.

Something more for pondering: “People forget the reality of the illusory world”. Huang Po.

(*) Gaudapada (Shankara, and the whole tradition of advaita Vedanta) deny multiplicity as being real. In essence ‘all is One’. The Neo-advaitin’s dictum (’everybody is enlightened’) is thus true and false at the same time.


Q. 354 – Consciousness and reality

Q: I have an odd question, a question that I am not even sure how to formulate, it concerns consciousness. Why does Advaita philosophy insist on calling the ultimate reality consciousness? The word consciousness implies intelligence and thought – how do we know that anything outside of brains is in any way conscious?  Does this mean that physical reality amounts to the “thoughts” of this consciousness? Can the transcendent consciousness send messages to an embodied consciousness? 

 I know that an advaitin will say that there is only a non-dual reality but I mean this (however unreal or relative a reality my individual reality may be from an ‘ultimate’ perspective’) in much the same way that, until you received this e-mail from me, you were not aware of any ‘message’ or meaning from me.

  If I see a figure in clouds or a face in some wood-grain, should I see this as information with meaning? Does the consciousness ‘behind’ or ‘underneath’ everything communicate meaning with physical events (pictures, or ‘my thoughts’ , or even ambiguous hand-writing!) the way we normally communicate meaning with words and concepts? In other words–if the entire universe is consciousness, can anything be truly mindless or meaningless? Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 12

विद्या कथम् भाति न चेदविद्या

विद्याम् विना किम् प्रविभात्यविद्या ।

द्वयम् च कस्येति विचार्य मूल

स्वरूप निष्ठा परमार्थ विद्या ॥—१२

vidyA katham bhAti na chedavidyA

vidyAm vinA kim pravibhAtyavidyA

dvayam cha kasyeti vichArya mUla

svarUpa niShThA paramArtha vidyA—12


विद्या कथम् भाति = how does knowledge shine? चेदविद्या = if there is no ignorance; विद्याम् विना = without knowledge; किम् प्रविभात्यविद्या = does ignorance shine; द्वयम् कस्येति = the two; विचार्य = having enquired; मूल स्वरूप = original nature; निष्ठा = abidance; परमार्थ विद्या = knowledge that ‘I am the self’


If there is no ignorance, how does knowledge shine? Without knowledge, does ignorance shine? And whose are the two? Having enquired thus, abidance in the original nature is the knowledge that ‘I am Atma’.


Everything in the universe is in duality. When one talks of happiness, it is a relative term, relative to sorrow. With respect to sorrow, we can say there is happiness. The term happiness has no meaning in the absence of sorrow. Light is opposed to darkness. It exists since darkness also exists. No darkness implies, there is no existence for light. This is the world of opposites, the world of duality. Joy-sorrow, victory-loss, peace-agitation, like-dislike, worry-security etc are some such antithetical couples. They mutually exist because of the other and have no meaning without the other.  Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (sad darshanam) – Part 11


द्व्वन्द्वानि सर्वाण्यखिलास्त्रिपुट्यः

किन्चित्समाश्रित्य विभान्ति वस्तु ।

तन्मार्गणे स्याद् गलितम् समस्तम्

न पश्यताम् सच्चलनम् कदापि ॥—११


dvandvAni sarvANyakhilAstripuTayaH = all dualities and triads; ki~nchit = some

(indescribable); samAshritya = due basis;  vibhAnti = appear; vastu = reality; tanmArgaNe =

when that is inquired into; syAd galitam samastam = (dualities and triads) all resolve;

na pashyatAm sachchalanam kadApi = there is no wavering for those who see the truth.


All dualities and triads appear due to some indescribable basis, which is the reality. When that is inquired into, all (dualities and triads) resolve. There is no wavering for those who see the truth.


Any appearance needs a basis to be experienced. For e.g., a rope snake in semi darkness, needs the substratum of either a rope, or a hose or a crack on the ground. In the absence of these, the snake will not be perceived. So also, a mirage needs a dry land and silver seen on nacre cannot be seen without it. All these, the snake, mirage and silver on the mother- of- the- pearl are not really existent, nor can they be called absolutely non-existent (since they can be experienced). They appear by borrowing their existence from the substratum. In other words they have dependent existence….no existence of their own.

To arrive at the truth, meaning to arrive at the basis of these appearances amounts to the appearances getting resolved. Once the rope is enquired into, the snake vanishes. The preconceived notions of, whether the snake was a cobra or not etc, will become irrelevant. Did the snake run away on gaining knowledge of the rope? The snake did not run away. The snake was an appearance. It is no longer seen as the truth. The enquiry into the basis resolves all wrong notions of reality given to appearances. Rope enquiry is not the same as snake enquiry.

So also, if one enquires into the world or the ego while being attached to them, one will not gain anything. It is the substratum that one has to enquire into. Many people get misled by the ‘who am I’ question. If one is overly attached to the body mind, the “who am I’ question is only going to give him material answers like; I am 6 ft tall, father of so and so etc. The enquiry is deeper than this; it is an enquiry into the very basis of the material existence.  Hence, enquiry into the self is enquiry into the substratum of the ego. That substratum has to be the reality.  Once that truth is known, the appearances of the world, body and mind are resolved. Do they disappear? Does a wise man see no world? A wise man does perceive a world. Just as we see the sun rise in spite of knowing that it actually does not rise, so also a wise man will see a world, will have a functional body and mind but will clearly know them to be unsubstantial.


Will the knowledge keep wavering? Will one face misery again? Knowledge once gained is permanent. The misery was born of ignorance. The appearances of duality and triads were taken as the reality. Post knowledge, the substratum is known as the reality. A wise person will never waver. He has gained a firm conviction of the truth as his own self. Though he transacts in the world, he can never regard it as real.