‘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

Moksha is not escapism


Four human goals called purushArthas are kama, artha, dharma, and moksha. Moksha is the final goal. It means freedom from rebirth or samsAra (worldly life) because human suffering is part and parcel of samsara. So, moksha also means freedom from suffering. According to Vedanta, our true nature is consciousness that is distinct from mind and body, and further that consciousness is all-pervasive, infinite, and complete. Human suffering is due to our ignorance that our real nature is consciousness, and we are already complete. Completeness implies contentment, peace, and happiness. Instead of identifying ourselves with infinite consciousness, we identify with finite mind-body and suffer. The root cause of suffering is this misidentification due to ignorance. The remedy is Self-knowledge. JnAn yoga is the method to gain Self-knowledge. It is not knowledge of any object. It is knowledge of the subject requiring sufficient preparation of mind to make it pure and focussed. SAdhanA chatusthyAya meaning four-fold qualifications are prescribed for this purpose. One of the qualifications is an intense yearning for moksha. Thus, four purushArthas and four-fold qualifications together suggest that an intense desire for moksha is required for achieving the goal of moksha. A qualified seeker of moksha who undertakes jnAn yoga in the form of hearing, reflecting, and mediating gains Self-knowledge. S/ he is a jnAni and achieves moksha. It means a jnAni transcends human suffering and is free from rebirth and samsAra. 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

Moksha and the ‘person’

Kratu Nanadan, a knowledgeable friend I met in Bangalore through another friend, has made some lucid comments in all aspects of Indian philosophy, including the Puranas, which he shared with me and others. The following is an example:

When a ‘person’ reaches mokṣa, there is no more that ‘person’; there was no person, to begin with. The whole thing, including reaching mokṣa was a story that never happened. It was not even a story, and it was nobody’s story. As the well-known analogy puts it, it is like picking up a handful of ocean water and finding that the ocean’s blueness is absent in it. There is no karma, and all that is is the nondual Ātman-Brahman.

The words of the Taittarīyopaniṣat echo such a realization in many ways, one of them being: “He is not agitated as ‘why did I not do good deeds; why did I do bad deeds. Having thus known (the Ātman), he elates/invigorates himself, and verily sees both (bad and good karma) as (Param) ātman. Thus, the upaniṣat.”—Taittarīyopaniṣat, Ānandavallī, VI, ii.

——Karma goes absent with the dawn of Ātman.

Q.509 Direct Path vs Traditional – Pt. 2

Part 2 – Free Will

Q: We talked earlier about the difference between the direct path and the traditional path.

I was looking through the free will section in your book Back to the Truth and I found this quotation by Franics Lucille:

We are entirely conditioned; therefore, there is no free will. It appears as though we exercise free choice, but in fact we are only reacting like automatons, running through the same patterns of our bio-sociological heritage without respite, leading invariably to the same old reactions, like a vending machine dispensing soft drinks in a train station. As individuals, our freedom is illusory, with the exception of the freedom which is ours at each moment to stop taking ourselves for separate individuals and thus putting an end to our ignorance and our suffering.

On the other hand, at the level of our deepest being, everything flows out of our freedom. Every thought, every perception takes birth because we want it to. We cannot understand this at the level of thought, but we can experience it. When we are totally open to the unknown, the personal entity is absent; then we realize that the tangible and intelligible universe arises out of this openness in the eternal present. We want, create and are at every moment everything in the unity of awareness. (Ref. 8)

[Waite, Dennis. Back To The Truth: 5000 Years Of Advaita (p. 76). NBN_Mobi_Kindle. Kindle Edition.]

Continue reading

Tidbits on Advaita

It appears that more and more people are taking to Non-duality as can be seen from the discussions on the social network platforms. One unfortunate fallout of this development is the absence of the rigor and purity of the Advaita message. Keeping in mind new beginners, I made three posts at a popular networking site. I thought of sharing them so that they may be useful for casual readers here and also to benefit myself from the comments/observations of the more senior followers of Advaita.

Post # 1. The Big “Me” and the small ‘me’:

It appears to me that there is some confusion in the concepts and usage of the two terms — the Big “Me” and the small ‘me’ in the Non-dual discussions.

I do not know about other Non-dual systems; but as far as Advaita goes, its doctrine explains these terms UNAMBIGUOUSLY.

It is quite popular in the West to suppose that all there is, is the Big Me alone. Hence, the theory seems to get extended to say that the apparent ‘me’ (the separate self) and the apparent world are also the “Me.” Therefore it’s all Oneness. That is NOT what Advaita says. Continue reading

How To Be Disembodied?

The Post on “The ‘I-am-realized’ Delusion – 5” said, quoting Shankara, towards its end, that “Disembodiedness is the intrinsic nature of Atman” and that is liberation.

अशरीरता हि आत्मनः स्वरूपम् ।   —  Shankara at 8.3.4, chAndogya.

The immediate question that arises then is “How to be disembodied?”

Before we answer this question, it is necessary to be absolutely clear in our mind about who is asking this question and why. If the question is being asked on behalf of the body and the reason for asking is to get rid of the miseries, sorrows and pains that the body undergoes in the world, well, Advaita in general and disembodiment in particular, is not the solution.

Does it mean that the body’s problems of disease, decay, hunger, destitution cannot be solved at all? One cannot say “No.” However, one has to look for some other routes to achieve that. But those routes will not lead one to ‘Liberation’ – freedom from being born in the world. Continue reading

Gaudapada and World Appearance

(Extract from the book)

What exactly happens when a person is enlightened or ‘gains mokSha’?  A popular, although somewhat incomprehensible, belief is that the world somehow ‘disappears’; that, for the j~nAnI, there simply is no longer any duality. Quite how the j~nAnI (apparently) continues to eat, drink and converse is not adequately explained by those who hold such a view. But Gaudapada approaches it from a different and even more dramatic angle.

Prior to my enlightenment, I make the mistake of identifying myself with the body-mind, believing myself to be a separate entity. This is the result of my Self-ignorance – not realizing that I am the unlimited Atman. Gaudapada says that this ignorance is beginningless (anAdi) (K1.16). At the dawn of Self-knowledge, I recognize that I am not the waker, dreamer or deep-sleeper but the non-dual turIya.

As to whether or not the world then disappears, Gaudapada effectively asks: how can it disappear when it didn’t exist to begin with? “If the visible world actually existed, there is no doubt that it might stop (i.e. disappear) (as soon as j~nAna was gained). (But) this (apparent) duality is merely mAyA (and) the absolute truth is non-dual.” (K1.17) Continue reading