|Vedanta Spiritual Library|
By Sri Vidyaranya Swami
Translated by Swami Swahananda
Published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai
I. THE DIFFERENTIATION OF THE REAL PRINCIPLE
1. Salutation to the lotus feet of my Guru Sri Sankarananda whose only work is to destroy the monster of primal nescience together with its effect, the phenomenal universe.
2. This discussion about the discrimination of Truth (Brahman) (from untruth) is being initiated for the easy understanding of those whose hearts have been purified by service to the pair of lotus feet of the Teacher.
3. The objects of knowledge, viz., sound, touch, etc., which are perceived in the waking state, are different from each other because of their peculiarities; but the consciousness of these, which is different from them, does not differ because of its homogeneity.
4. Similar is the case in the dream state. Here the perceived objects are transient and in the waking state they seem permanent. So there is difference between them. But the (perceiving) consciousness in both the states does not differ. It is homogeneous.
5. A person awaking from deep sleep consciously remembers his lack of perception during that state. Remembrance consists of objects experienced earlier. It is therefore clear that even in deep sleep 'want of knowledge' is perceived.
6. This consciousness (in the deep sleep state) is indeed distinct from the object (here, ignorance), but not from itself, as is the consciousness in the state of dream. Thus in all the three states the consciousness (being homogeneous) is the same. It is so in other days too.
7. Through the many months, years, ages and world cycles, past and future, consciousness is the same; it neither rises nor sets (unlike the sun); it is self-revealing.
8. This consciousness, which is our Self, is of the nature of supreme bliss, for it is the object of greatest love, and love for the Self is seen in every man, who wishes, 'May I never cease to be', 'May I exist forever'.
9. Others are loved for the sake of the Self, but the Self is loved for none other. Therefore the love for the Self is the highest. Hence the Self is of the nature of the highest bliss.
10. In this way, it is established by reasoning that the individual Self is of the nature of existence, consciousness and bliss. Similar is the supreme Brahman. The identity of the two is taught in the Upanishads.
11. If the supreme bliss of the Self is not known, there cannot be the highest love for it. (But it is there). If it is known, there cannot be attraction for worldly objects. (That too is there). So we say, this blissful nature of the Self, though revealed, is not (strictly speaking) revealed.
12. A father may distinguish the voice of his son chanting (the Vedas) in chorus with a number of pupils but may fail to note its peculiarities, due to an obstruction viz., its having been mingled with other voices. Similar is the case with bliss. Because of observation, it is proper to say that the bliss 'is known yet unknown'.
13. Our experience of the articles of everyday use is that they 'exist', they 'reveal'. Now an obstruction is that which stultifies this experience of existence and revelation and produces the counter-experience that they are not existing, they are not revealing.
14. In the above illustration the cause of the obstruction to the voice of the son being fully recognised is the chorus of voices of all the boys. Hence the one cause of all contrary experiences is indeed the beginningless Avidya.
15. Prakriti (i.e. primordial substance) is that in which there is the reflection of Brahman, that is pure consciousness and bliss and is composed of sattva, rajas and tamas (in a state of homogeneity). It is of two kinds.
16. When the element of sattva is pure, Prakriti is known as Maya; when impure (being mixed up with rajas and tamas) it is called Avidya. Brahman, reflected in Maya, is known as the omniscient Isvara, who controls Maya.
17. But the other (i.e. the Jiva, which is Brahman reflected in Avidya) is subjected to Avidya (impure sattva). The Jiva is of different grades due to (degrees of) admixture (of rajas and tamas with sattva). The Avidya (nescience) is the causal body. When the Jiva identifies himself with this causal body he is called Prajna.
18. At the command of Isvara (and) for the experience of Prajna the five subtle elements, ether, air, fire, water and earth, arose from the part of Prakriti in which tamas predominates.
19. From the sattva part of the five subtle elements of Prakriti arose in turn the five subtle sensory organs of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.
20. From a combination of them all (i.e. sattva portions of the five subtle elements) arose the organ of inner conception called antahkarana. Due to difference of function it is divided into two. Manas (mind) is that aspect whose function is doubting and buddhi (intellect) is that whose functions are discrimination and determination.
21. From the rajas portion of the five elements arose in turn the organs of actions known as the organ of speech, the hands, the feet, and the organs of excretion and generation.
22. From a combination of them all (i.e. the rajas portions of the five subtle elements) arose the vital air (Prana). Again, due to difference of function it is divided into five. They are Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana.
23. The five sensory organs, the five organs of action, the five vital airs, mind and intellect, all the seventeen together from the subtle body, which is called the Suksma or linga sarira.
24. By identifying himself with the subtle body (and thinking it to be his own), Prajna becomes known as Taijasa, and Isvara as Hiranyagarbha. Their difference is the one between the individual and the collective (i.e. one is identified with a single subtle body and the other with the totality of subtle bodies).
25. Isvara (as Hiranyagarbha) is called totality because of his sense of identification with all the subtle bodies (of the universe). The other (the Taijasa) is called 'individual" because it lacks this knowledge (and is conscious only of his self, being identified with his own subtle body).
26. To provide the Jivas with objects of enjoyment and make the bodies fit for such enjoyment, the all-powerful Isvara has made each of the (subtle) elements partake of the nature of all others.
27. Dividing each element into two equal halves and one half of each again into four (equal parts) the Lord mixed the subtle elements so that each gross element thus formed should contain one half of its own peculiar nature and one eighth of that of each of the other four.
28. From these composite elements the cosmic egg arose, and from it evolved all the worlds as well as all the objects of experience and the bodies in which the experience take place. When Hiranyagarbha identifies himself with the totality of gross bodies he is known as Vaisvanara; when Taijasas do so with individual gross bodies (e.g.) of the devas, men or lower animals, they are known as Visvas.
29. They see only external things and are devoid of the knowledge of their true inner nature. They perform actions for enjoyment, and again they enjoy for performing action.
30. They go from birth to birth, as worms that have slipped into a river are swept from one whirlpool to another and never attain peace.
31. When the good deeds performed by them in past births bear fruit, the worms enjoy rest being lifted from the river by a compassionate person and placed under the shade of a tree on the bank.
32. Similarly, the Jivas (finding themselves in the whirlpool of samsara), receive the appropriate initiation from a teacher who himself has realised Brahman, and differentiating the Self from its five sheaths attain the supreme bliss of release.
33. The five sheaths of the Self are those of the food, the vital air, the mind, the intellect and bliss. Enveloped in them, it forgets its real nature and becomes subject to transmigration.
34. The gross body which is the product of the quintuplicated elements is known as the food sheath. That portion of the subtle body which is composed of the five vital airs and the five organs of action, and which is the effect of the rajas aspect of Prakriti is called the vital sheath.
35. The doubting mind and the five sensory organs, which are the effect of Sattva, make up the mind sheath. The determining intellect and the sensory organs make up the intellect sheath.
36. The impure Sattva which is in the causal body, along with joy and other Vrittis (mental modifications), is called the bliss sheath. Due to identification with the different sheaths, the Self assumes their respective natures.
37. By differentiating the Self from the five sheaths through the method of distinguishing between the variable and the invariable, one can draw out one's own Self from the five sheaths and attain the supreme Brahman.
38. The physical body present in one's consciousness is absent in the dreaming state, but the witnessing element, pure consciousness, persists (in both the waking and dreaming states). This is the invariable presence (anvaya) of the Self. Though the self is perceived, the physical body is not; so the latter is a variable factor.
39. Similarly, in the state of deep sleep, the subtle body is not perceived, but the Self invariably witnesses that state. While the self persists in all states the subtle body is not perceived in deep sleep and so it is called a variable factor.
40. By discrimination of the subtle body (and recognition of its variable, transient character), the sheaths of the mind, intellect, and vital airs are understood to be different from the Self, for the sheaths are conditions of the three gunas, and differ from each other (qualitatively and quantitatively).
41. Avidya (manifested as the causal body of bliss sheath) is negated in the state of deep meditation (in which neither subject nor object is experienced), but the Self persists in that state; so it is the invariable factor. But the causal body is a variable factor, for though the Self persists, it does not.
42. As the slender, internal pith of munja grass can be detached from its coarse external covering, so the Self can be distinguished through reasoning from the three bodies (or the five sheaths). Then the Self is recognised as the supreme consciousness.
43. In this way the identity of Brahman and Jiva is demonstrated through reasoning. This identity is taught in the sacred texts in sentences such as 'That thou art'. Their method of explaining the truth is through the elimination of incongruous attributes.
44. Brahman becomes the material and efficient cause of the world when associated with those aspects of Maya in which there is a predominance of tamas and sattva respectively. This Brahman is referred to as 'That ' in the text 'That thou art'.
45. When the supreme Brahman superimposes on Itself Avidya, that is, sattva mixed with rajas and tamas, creating desires and activities in It, then it is referred to as 'thou'.
46. When the three mutually contradictory aspects of Maya are rejected, there remains the one individual Brahman whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss. This is pointed out by the great saying 'That thou art'.
47. In the sentence 'This is that Devadatta', 'this' and 'that' refer to different time, place and circumstances. When the particular connotations of 'this' and 'that' are rejected, Devadatta remains as their common basis.
48. Similarly, when the adjuncts, Maya and Avidya (the conflicting connotations in the proposition 'That thou art') of Brahman, and Jiva, are negated, there remains the indivisible supreme Brahman, whose nature is existence, consciousness and bliss.
49. (Objection): If the denoted object (of 'That thou art' i.e., Brahman) is with attributes, then it becomes unreal. Secondly, an object without attributes is neither seen nor is possible to conceive.
50. (Reply with a counter question): Does the objection you have raise relate to Brahman without attributes or with attributes ? If the first, you are caught in your own trap; if the second, it involves logical fallacies of infinite regress, resting on oneself, etc.
51. The same logical fallacies may be shown in any object having substance, species, quality, action, or relationship. So accept all these attributes as existing (superimposed on) by the very nature of things.
52. The Self is untouched by doubts about the presence or absence of associates, connotations and other adventitious relationships, because they are superimposed on it phenomenally.
53. The finding out or discovery of the true significance of the identity of the individual self and the Supreme with the aid of the great sayings (like Tattvamasi) is what is known as sravana. And to arrive at the possibility of its validity through logical reasoning is what is called manana.
54. And, when by sravana and manana the mind develops a firm and undoubted conviction, and dwells constantly on the thus ascertained Self alone, it is called unbroken meditation (nididhyasana).
55. When the mind gradually leaves off the ideas of the meditator and the act of meditation and is merged in the sole object of meditation. (viz., the Self), and is steady like the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot, it is called the super-conscious state (samadhi).
56. Though in samadhi there is no subjective cognition of the mental function having the Self as its object, its continued existence in that state is inferred from the recollection after coming out of samadhi.
57. The mind continues to be fixed in Paramatman in the state of samadhi as a result of the effort of will made prior to its achievement and helped by the merits of previous births and the strong impression created through constant efforts (at getting into samadhi).
58. The same idea Sri Krishna pointed out to Arjuna in various ways e.g., when he compares the steady mind to the flame of a lamp in a breezeless spot.
59. As a result of this (nirvikalpa) samadhi millions of results of actions, accumulated in this beginningless world over past and present births, are destroyed, and pure dharma (helpful to the realisation of Truth) grows.
60. The experts in Yoga call this samadhi 'a rain cloud of dharma' because it pours forth countless showers of the bliss of dharma.
61. The entire network of desires is fully destroyed and the accumulated actions known as merits and demerits are fully rooted out by this samadhi.
62. Then the great dictum, freed from the obstacles (of doubt and ambiguity), gives rise to a direct realisation of the Truth, as a fruit in one's palm - Truth which was earlier comprehended indirectly.
63. The knowledge of Brahman obtained indirectly from the Guru, teaching the meaning of the great dictum, burns up like fire all sins, committed upto that attainment of knowledge.
64. The direct realisation of the knowledge of the Self obtained from the Guru's teaching of the great dictum, is like the scorching sun, that dispels the very darkness of Avidya, the root of all transmigratory existence.
65. Thus a man distinguishes the Self from the five sheaths, concentrates the mind on It according to the scriptural injunctions, becomes free from the bonds of repeated births and deaths and immediately attains the supreme bliss.
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