Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 14


निद्रा न विद्या ग्रहणम् न विद्या

गृह्णाति किन्चिन्न यथार्थ बोधे

निद्रा प्रदार्थ ग्रहणेतरा स्यात्

चिदेव विद्या विलसन्त्यशून्या—१४

nidrA na vidyA grahaNam na vidyA

gRihNAti ki~nchinna yathArtha bodhe

nidrA pradArtha grahNetarA syAt

chideva vidyA vilasantyashUnyA—14

निद्रा न विद्या = Self knowledge is not sleep;   ग्रहणम् न विद्या= grasping (perceiving) of worldly objects is not self knowledge; गृह्णाति किन्चिन्न यथार्थ बोधे= In self knowledge, as it is, one does not grasp anything; निद्रा प्रदार्थ  ग्रहण् इतरा  स्यात्= It is different from grasping and non-grasping of objects; चिदेव विद्या विलसन्ति अशून्या = consciousness alone is self knowledge which is self effulgent and not a void.

What is knowledge of the self? Is it like the normal knowledge we gain in our worldly transactions or is it a sleep like state where nothing is known?

In this verse, bhagavAn RamaNa is refuting what self knowledge is not. He mentions it is not like the objective knowledge and sleep. On a positive note, he mentions it is where there is no grasping (of objects), the consciousness itself which is self effulgent is the self knowledge.

We have various sciences, art forms, various branches in Mathematics etc. We gain knowledge in these fields and consider ourselves knowledgeable. Is self knowledge akin to this type of grasping? Is it like a gross appreciation of the world? If not, then is it like sleep where one grasps nothing?

Both are not self knowledge. The self is not something that can be grasped per se. It is me, the very subject, the illuminant of all perceptions. How can the sun illumine itself?

In any worldly objective knowledge one grasps an object through the mind and organs. The atma is the basis for the mind and organs to function. Hence the Atma as such cannot be grasped by the mind objectively. The atma being non dual, there is nothing else to be known on knowing it. In self knowledge as it is, there is no grasping of the world, because the world is unreal. There then arises the possibility of self knowledge being a sleep state.  Even this is not acceptable. Since, in sleep there is a very subtle essence of thought of absence of everything else. There is an extremely subtle perception of absence. That is why we get up with the thought of having slept well. There is an experiencer in sleep also. That seer awareness is the consciousness.

Self knowledge is not perception of absence or objective grasping. It is the assertion of  the unreality of the objective appearances and the claiming of the self effulgent consciousness within as one’s true nature. It is important to note that self knowledge not being a grasping of objective knowledge does NOT amount to not seeing the world. The world continues, the body continues, the transactions continue even after self knowledge but the reality status that was attached to it earlier has lost significance. Just as a mirage is known to be sand alone and not real water to quench thirst, so also the world is known to be a mere appearance on the core of atma. The mirages continue to appear every now and then on the desert sands;  so also the world continues. Self knowledge has nothing mystical about it where the whole world vanishes and we land into an ‘all- peace- altruistic- euphoric’ state.

Self knowledge is me, the the atma and claiming it alone to be my true nature. It is definitely not a void as buddhists claim. If it were a void, who knows the void? The atma alone is shining and that am I, the fullness not emptiness.

4 thoughts on “Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 14

  1. Dear Meenakshi

    I’ve been corresponding with Dennis about deep sleep recently, and given your post, I thought I would ask you (and other bloggers) the same question.

    Deep sleep is pointed out by many (Bhagavan Ramana, Swami Paramarthananda, Sri Atmananda) as the closest experience one can get to atma jnana – “experientially there is no difference between turiyam and prajna” says Swami P.
    All state that a jnani does not need to have had a mystical experience of samadhi, etc, for self-knowledge, because the knowledge itself removes the ignorance of one’s true state.
    That presumably means that a jnani does not have any different experience of deep sleep than does a jiva. (In deep sleep, Pure Consciousness as non-dual subject, has no object that it can be aware of, and as subject cannot be aware of itself). And so the differentiating factor between a jnani and an ordinary person, is the fact that a jnani KNOWS that all is non-dual Brahman in the waking state. Is this a valid conclusion?



    [As an aside that you may be interested in, in Michael James’ translation of Guru Vachaka Kovai:
    455: Even though people enjoy the highest happiness in deep sleep, where no other thing exists, instead of understanding that it is the true happiness and trying to achieve it in life, craving to obtain other things, sense objects, as if they were the remedies for the miseries that occur, is utter foolishness.
    Sadhu Om comment: If by means of enquiry, one realises one’s real state as the pure self-existent consciousness devoid of the attachment to the body, the ego-consciousness which was experienced in waking and dream as one’s existence will be found to be unreal, and the knowledge that the state which was referred to till then as sleep is the perfect, real Self-consciousness will dawn. It is only to make this clear that Sri Bhagavan said in Maharshi’s Gospel: “Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full knowledge in sleep and total ignorance in waking . , , “]
    [Sri Atmananda says practically the same thing:”The ignorance of all objects in deep sleep means really the positive knowledge of the self, which shines as happiness there. Consequently the ignorance of the ordinary man in deep sleep is really the knowledge of his own self which is happiness and Consciousness . . . We have already proved that the so-called ignorance of the world in deep sleep is nothing but the knowledge of the Self, which is happiness itself. Thus the experience in deep sleep, if properlyunderstood is only one, and that is our own self, which is happiness and peace” (Note 9, Vol1 of of Discourses)]

  2. “Pure Consciousness as non-dual subject, has no object that it can be aware of, and as subject cannot be aware of itself”, writes Venkat.

    Yes, Awareness cannot be aware of itself as an object, but it cannot not be aware of itself – being pure awareness it is self-reflecting, self-awaring. There cannot be any deficiency, lack or limitation in it. The subject-object dichotomy does not apply here.

    Atmananda: “the experience in deep sleep, if properly understood is only one, and that is our own self”. If properly understood in the waking state, that is, where alone awakening can happen.

    • Dear Martin

      Just to be clear, are you confirming that the jnani’s deep sleep experience is the same as a jiva, and therefore understanding in the waking state is the only jnana that is talked about?

      Also what is it that gets awakened? If what we are is indivisible Brahman that is the witness of all that is experienced (including ‘my’ body-mind) then the illusory bondage is just a vritti of a separate existence, and awakening is the dissolution of this vritti.

      But then, why do the scriptures talk about jivas that must strive to remove ignorance, have to undergo karmayoga, purification, reincarnation etc. This implies that universal consciousness / Brahman is witnessing ‘thorugh’ different body-minds. If the consciousness that is aware of Venkat’s experiences is clearly different from the consciousness that is aware of Martin’s experiences, this implies a spatial differentiation in the experiencing by Brahman and therefore some kind of particularisation of the universal.
      Alternatively there is only the consciousness that is aware of the experiences of this illusory body-mind, and everything else (other jivas, reincarnation, etc) is just an imputation and unreal – and a ‘lower’ level of teaching by scriptures that ultimately needs to be sublated.
      Metaphorically, is there just one screen (of consciousness) on which the world plays out, or are there multiple screens?
      I’m not sure if I’m being clear – but would really appreciate your thoughts.


  3. In my view, the first two paragraphs of your last comment, and the last half of the last paragraph, with its first option, namely, consciousness being only one screen and not many, are the correct answers. Reflected consciousness is not other than pure consciousness, which alone in unsublatable.
    The merit of Advaita Vedanta is that it is the only religious philosophy in the world, as far as I know, that does not claim absolute truth for its own scriptures.

Comments are closed.