Verse 18.66 – Bhagavad Gita [ Part 2/2]

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज।
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्षयिष्यामि मा शुचः।।18.66।।
Meaning: Abandoning all forms of rites and duties, take refuge in Me alone. I shall free you from all sins. (Therefore) do not grieve. [Gambhirananda]. Bhasyam is extensive as it should be [Translation: Gambhirananda]. It discusses four topics.
1 Renunciation of rites and duties
Sarva-dharman includes dhrma (virtuous) and adharma (non-virtuous), i.e., renunciation of all actions as both dhArmic and adhArmic actions are the cause of bondage.  That evil actions have to be given up does not need any explanation. Take refuge in Me,  the Self, that exists in all beings without exception. The necessary sAdhnA is to identify with the Self and not with the mind and body. As the Self is action-free, renunciation of virtuous ones follows. Furthermore, as the Self is free from birth, old age, and death, liberation is assured. Arjuna should not grieve if he engages in war and kills friends and foes. He will incur no sin. He who has not the feeling of egoism, whose intellect is not tainted, he does not kill, nor does he become bound even by killing these creatures! (18.17-Gambhirananda)

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‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 4/5

Part – 3

Words play a significant role in any communication. In imparting the Truth of the Truth, which is the aim of Advaita Vedanta, words, however, lose their rigidity and attain certain fluidity in pointing to something beyond or prior to what their immediate referent stands for. Therefore, it is often suggested that a seeker on the Advaitic path has to approach a teacher who is well-versed with scriptures so that a correct meaning for the words as per the context in the shruti are obtained by a seeker.

In our normal parlance, words refer to something that has one or other of a ‘distinguishing mark such as name, or form, or action, or heterogeneity, or species, or qualities.’ Continue reading

‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 3/5

Part – 2

We shall continue with the shruti and bhAShya citations on sarvAtmabhAva in this Part of the Series. Continuing from Part – 2 :

(iv)  विद्यायाश्च कार्यं सर्वात्मभावापत्तिरित्येतत् सङ्क्षेपतो दर्शितम् । सर्वा हि इयमुपनिषत् विद्याविद्याविभागप्रदर्शनेनैवोपक्षीणा यथा एषोऽर्थः कृत्स्नस्य शास्त्रस्य तथा प्रदर्शयिष्यामः   — 1.4.10, BUB.

While the effect of Knowledge (meditation) has been briefly shown to be identity with all, the whole of this Upanishad is exclusively devoted to showing the distinction between the spheres of Knowledge and ignorance. We shall show that this is the import of the whole book. Continue reading

‘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. Continue reading

‘sarvAtmabhAva’ – 1/5

The single most important word in the entire Lexicon of Advaita Vedanta can be said to be, without any contest, ‘sarvAtmabhAva‘ (सर्वात्मभाव). It, at once, abstracts the totality of the ancient Non-dual teaching and also expresses it most elegantly and efficiently striking a close chord within us. The word is the ‘Touchstone’ to distinguish the brawn from the brain, the grain from the chaff, the True Knower of Truth from the also-rans. It is far less esoteric and ethereal to my mind compared to another popular summation of Advaita Vedanta as the teaching of jIvabrahmaikya (जीवब्रह्मैक्य) – the Oneness of Atman and brahman.

We shall, therefore, try in this and the next few articles to tease out in detail the meaning and the usage of the word, ‘sarvAtmabhAva‘ (सर्वात्मभाव), in the various  canonical texts and the commentaries on them by Shankara. Continue reading

What Happens After Self-realization? – 3/3

Part – 2/3 

What happens to the Consciousness part after Self-realization (figurative merger)? – (Continued from Part – 2/3)

Shankara formulates our question in a slightly different manner in his introduction to the subject matter at the Section 4 of the Chapter 4, Vedanta sUtra-s. He states:

“The chAndogya Upanishad at 8.12.3 tells us that ‘after having risen from this body and after having reached the highest light, this serene happy being becomes established in Its own real form (i.e. Self or nature).’ Does that being become manifest with some adventitious distinction (as it may happen in a special region like heaven) or is It established as the Self alone? What could be the final conclusion?”

Shankara is very categorical and clear in his answer and commentary at the next three aphorisms (# 534-536). In the words of Swami Krishnananda, “Emancipation is a cessation of all bondage and not the accession of something new, just as health is merely the removal of illness and not a new acquisition. If release is nothing new that is acquired by the individual self, then what is its difference from bondage? The jIva was stained in the state of bondage by the three states, i.e., the state of waking, dreaming and dreamless sleep.” Continue reading

What Happens After Self-realization? – 2/3

Part – 1

The brihadAraNyaka Upanishad says:

 यदा सर्वे प्रमुच्यन्ते कामा येऽस्य हृदि श्रिताः  अथ मर्त्योऽमृतो भवत्यत्र ब्रह्म समश्नुत इति   — 4.4.7, brihadAraNyaka.   

Meaning:  When all the desires that dwell in his heart (mind) are gone, then he, having been mortal, becomes immortal, and attains brahman in this very body. (Translation: Swami Madhavananada.]

Shankara clarifies at this mantra that “It is virtually implied that desires concerning things other than the Self fall under the category of ignorance, and are but forms of death. Therefore, on the cessation of death, the man of realization becomes immortal. And attains brahman, the identity with brahman, i.e. liberation, living in this very body. Hence liberation does not require such things as going to some other place.” (Translation: Swami Madhavananada.]

Further, Shankara observes at 4.4.6, brihadAraNaka that “Therefore, as we have also said, the cessation of ignorance alone is commonly called liberation, like the disappearance of the snake, for instance, from the rope when the erroneous notion about its existence has been dispelled.” Continue reading

What Happens After Self-realization? – 1/3

[What exactly happens to the “sense of separate self” after “realization of the Self” depends on whether one seeks saguNa brahman (a favorite Godhead or Ishwara) or nirguNa (attributeless) brahman. The Vedanta sUtra-s in the Section 3 and those at the later part of Section 4 of Chapter 4 deal with the result of following the former. The aphorisms # 534 to 542 in Section 4 of the Chapter 4 tell us about the latter. We shall in this Series of three Posts consider the latter case of following nirguNa brahman.]

“What happens after Self-realization?” is a tantalizing question many of us would like to ask.

But before a sensible answer is given to that question, one should have a very clear idea of two other closely related questions: “What is liberation?” and “Who is it that gets actually liberated?”

There can be many answers to these three questions. The answers will vary depending on one’s own understanding, teaching model followed, the explanatory theories used, devices adopted for practice and so on. However, any given answer has to be within the bounds of an overarching condition that circumscribes the Advaita philosophy. That is to say that the answer has to smoothly and seamlessly segue into the two aspects that the Advaita doctrine holds supreme and uncontestable. The two aspects are: Continue reading

AtmajnAnopadeshavidhi

It is well known that Shankara had written many precise and specific treatises on Advaita Vedanta for the benefit of the followers within his Ashram system. “Atma jnAna upadesha vidhi” (“The Way To Impart Self-knowledge”) is a much valued and revered prakaraNa grantha among the saints but not that popularly known outside the circle of monks. Swami Ananda Giri has a special love for this text.

I give below a short Review of this monograph of Shankara written by Mahamandaleshwar brahma Shri Maheshananda Giri Maharaj, Pontiff of the Shri Dakshinamurti Peetha, Varanasi, India, published in 2004. Continue reading

Role of bhakti in jnAna mArga:

A highly respected Vedantin late Shri S. N. Sastri (see here) observed in his introduction to vivekacUDAmaNi that “There is a wrong impression among some persons, particularly Western scholars, that Sri Sankara did not attach importance to devotion to a personal God.” At the other end, we have some people who say that Shankara was a great devotee and cite the innumerable hymns in praise of various Gods and Goddesses he is supposed to have authored. Naturally, this situation raises the question on the “role” of devotion (bhakti) in Advaita Vedanta, particularly, in the Knowledge Path (jnAna mArga).

As a matter of fact, we cannot really think of exclusive compartmentalized approaches separated by rigid walls in Vedanta. The various methods (upAya-s) suggested in Advaita Vedanta are all only broad generalized schema. One cannot, therefore, take a position that bhakti is required or not required in Advaita. Many things work together in leading a seeker to arrive at the Ultimate im-mediated understanding (aparokSha anubhUti) of Non-dual Oneness. Continue reading