Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Tattvabodha - Part 16

Notes on Tattvabodha
Dr. Vishnu Bapat

Dr. Bapat (72) was the co-founder of an Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Industry and served as its Managing Director for 26 years until retirement. He is associated with several professional and spiritual bodies. He is now fully engaged in the study and practice of Vedanta.




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33. Existence

सत् किम्?

सत् किम् कालत्रयेपि तिष्ट्तीति सत् ।।

सत् –Existence or Being किम् - what कालत्रये – in three periods of time (past, present and future) अपि – also तिष्ट्ति - remains इति – thus सत् – Existence or being.

What is existence or Being? That which remains unchanged in the three periods of time (past, present and future) is called sat.

सत् – Existence or being. Everything exists because of the existence principle which is the substratum of the entire universe. Brahman is that existence principle. कालत्रये अपि – in three periods of time (past, present and future) also. We have three periods of time in relation to the present. The concept of three periods is relative. It is in the minds of living beings only. Atman is present in the past, present and future. He is beyond time and space. Self was never born, and shall never die. It is always there. Bhagavad Gita Ch. 17:26 describes sat as below:

द्भावे साधुभावे च सदित्येतत्प्रयुज्यते ।

प्रशस्ते कर्मणि तथा सच्छब्दः पार्थ युज्यते ॥१७:२६॥

Arjuna! The word Sat is employed in the sense of truth and auspiciousness. And the word sat is also used in the sense of a praiseworthy act. Saguna or sat Guna (सद्गुण) means good quality.


34. Consciousness

चित् किम्?

चित् किम्? ज्ञानस्वरूपः ।

चित् – consciousness किम् – what ज्ञान-स्वरूपः – nature of knowledge

What is consciousness? It is the nature of absolute knowledge.

The nature of Brahman cannot be defined. However, Vedanta gives some pointers for us to know the nature of Brahman. In the first place it was described as सत्, existence or being. I say the book exists on the table. Existence is independent of the book. Even if the book is burnt, the existence survives. The second character is चित् consciousness. I know this is a book, I know that I understand or that I do not understand. I know I am hungry. What makes me to know this? It is my consciousness. It is the opposite of inertia. Consciousness is again independent of the object. Even if the object is not there, consciousness survives. It is the consciousness factor that illumines the mind to know the presence or absence of certain things and emotions. This factor is called “I” or self or soul at the body level and the spirit at cosmic level.


35. Bliss

आनन्दः कः?

आनन्दः कः? सुखस्वरूपः ।।

आनन्दः – Bliss कः what – सुखस्वरूपः – of the nature of happiness

What is bliss? It is of the nature of absolute happiness

After explaining the nature of Brahman as सत्, existence or being and चित् or consciousness, Acharya Shankara explains the third factor आनन्दः Bliss. In bliss there is no agony and grief. It is total Ananda. Swami Ramakrishna said, “There are three types of Ananda or joy; the joy of worldly enjoyment, the joy of worship, and the joy of Brahman. The joy of worldly enjoyment is fleeting in nature and always beset with agony. In the joy of worship a bhakta or devotee lays more stress on Ananda or love aspect of Brahman. In the Joy of Brahman, A jnyani lays great stress on the aspect of चित् or knowledge. Both of them have no dispute about the सत्, or existence aspect. (Sat, chit and ananda is a seamless principle - existence, awareness and bliss. Chit is awareness or consciousness. I am aware that I am typing this letter. A man cannot be aware of a thing unless he has knowledge about it. To have the knowledge the thing should exist. I have no knowledge about a space- flower because it does not exist.)


Bliss is everywhere

Brahman is bliss. Since Brahman is all-pervasive there is bliss everywhere. Everything is bliss. Bliss is our own nature too. Bliss is the nature of cosmos. The supreme bliss fully exists in all, from Brahma down to a blade of grass. We are also that undivided Brahman. “मधुवाता ऋतायते मधिक्षरन्ति सिन्धवः” the air spreads sweetness, the waters exude sweetness, everything is sweetness says Rig-Veda.

Vedas declare that everything is Ananda or bliss. Buddha remarked that everything is dukha or sorrow. This is the basic difference between the two paths. Bible looks at Sachchidananda from a different angle. If you see the absolute as relative, then we see Sachchidananda as trinity—father, son and Holy Ghost. Sat is the creating principle, chit the guiding principle, Ananda, the realizing principle which joins us again to the one. (Complete works of Ramakrishna)


36. Existence-consciousness-bliss


एवं सच्चिदानन्दस्वरूपं स्वात्मानं विजानीयात् ।।

एवम् – thus सत्-चित्-आनन्द-स्वरूपम् – the nature of existence-consciousness-bliss स्वात्मानम् – of oneself विजानीयात् - should be known.

Thus one should know oneself to be of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

A rose has a fragrant flavor, red color and soft feel. All these qualities are found in the same rose flower. The self is of the nature of existence-consciousness-bliss. These three qualities are not attributes but aspect of one self. A quality belongs to a substance, and substance has a name and form. A substance is material and insentient. The self is beyond all names, forms and qualities. It is not a material. It is self-effulgent, non-pulsating principle. The qualities of existence-consciousness-bliss are not separate but one unit. That is why a hyphen is added in between these three words to show that they are one.


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Page last updated: 02-Sep-2016