The Ghost of Bharcchu

SarvajnatmanSarvajnatman, a well-reputed advaita Acharya of the 9th-10th century, was the author of samkshepa shArIraka.  As the title indicates, this book is a brief presentation of Sankara’s sUtra bhAshya in four chapters corresponding to the four adhyAya-s of the brahma sUtra-s.

Sarvajnatman sums up the essential nature of brahman in ten words. They are:

nityasuddha, buddha,  mukta, satya,  sUkshmasatvibhuadvitIya and Ananda

(eternal, pure, knowing, free, true, subtle, existent, auspicious, without a second and infinite (or happy)).

advaita teaches that you and brahman are one and the same. You being already brahman, the above ten words, therefore, describe you also. That means you, yourself, are Happiness.  So Happiness should be known to you like you know the back of your hand. You do not have to search for or attain Happiness.

But an enigmatic question arises: Okay, I know that I am already eternally existing, knowing and  ever happy brahman.  How come then I don’t know the Happiness which should be present right here? What ghost of an obstruction would block me from feeling it, from seeing it?

The shAstra replies: Oh, Yea, something like the Ghost of Bharcchu can cripple you from seeing the very things that are right in front of you!

“The Ghost of Bharcchu?  What’s that?,” you ask in wonderment.

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Recently there was an interesting question about the disappearance of ‘me’ when a patient is administered anesthesia in preparation for a major surgery.  It is quite intriguing where the missing ‘self’ has gone and when under anesthesia (Q. 313).

Peter, Sitara and Dennis answered the question very ably explaining the Vedantic philosophy behind the various states of consciousness (as we usually understand the term).  The false concept of the sense of a separate ‘self’ we think we possess and the reality of an eternal Self; the misunderstanding that arises if we take the word Consciousness to mean the same in psychology (& medicine) and Advaita;  the possible existence of multiple ‘minds’ which derive their illumination from an unchanging, everlasting, self-effulgent One Brahman were dealt with by them. Hardly can anything be added to their clear exposition made from the stance of Non-duality beyond saying a word of our appreciation and gratefulness to them.

I would like to use this opportunity, if I may, to bring to the notice of a wider audience an approach I developed in 2004 relating the state of our alertness to our body-mind system in order to understand who we really are. We shall also in the process examine what are Deep Sleep and Death and what is the condition of the brain under different states, including awake, dream, deep sleep, death, coma, anesthesia etc.

Let me call this as “A Model for Nirvana.”

Four Outcomes

Four Outcomes


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Pleasure of Sex vs. Bliss of Self in Brain Scans

Khajuraho Temple Sculpture – 10th – 12th Century

Khajuraho and Kamasutra fire the fancy of any foreign tourist to India.  Add Spirituality and the heady mix becomes a killer app for seekers of quick-fix salvation for paying a visit to India!  Biologically sex evolved as a reproductive mechanism to possibly capture the advantageous heritable genetic traits from a partner.  Only humans and a few animals like bonobos and dolphins indulge in recreational sex.  Sex is closely tied to sensory perceptions and lies within the realms of the mind. Salvation transcends both senses and mind. “Rajneesh, the ‘horse’s mouth’ concerning the topic of enlightenment for Westerners for many years,” regrets James Swartz, “wedded two largely incompatible concepts, sense enjoyment and enlightenment.” One may lose ‘self identity’ and get enwrapped in an inexplicable joy in either of them as Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says. But the bliss of enlightenment and the pleasure of sensual gratification are totally different. Our brains can show it all very clearly!

Human brain is a mass of interlinked neurons piled up in three layers. At the bottom is the most primitive brain common to all animals. Continue reading