In our normal parlance, the knower is different
from the known - the subject object distinction
is clear; duality is inherent in all objective
knowledge. If I ‘know’ a table, the
table that I know is different from the knower,
I. By knowing the table, I cannot (in principle!)
become a table.
But there is a declaration in the shruti that ‘the knower
of Brahman becomes Brahman’. Brahman means infinite. First
of all, we cannot know the infinite - if we could, the infinite
would become finite, which would negate the infiniteness. Secondly,
I cannot become the infinite – what is finite cannot become
infinite; that is mathematically illogical.
Thus, there would seem to be a double illogicality in the statement:
I cannot 'know' Brahman and I cannot 'become' Brahman. But, since
the scripture says so and that is a means of knowledge, it implies
that first of all, we have to drop the logic (laukika anumAna
or worldly logic) in order to be able to appreciate the language
of the Upanishad. For this, the help of teacher is needed.
Shankara explains that, if I am already infinite, ‘knower
of Brahman’ involves realization of my true nature as sat
chit Ananda. I must cease to take myself as 'this', which involves
an equation of the conscious entity, I am, with the unconscious
entity, 'this is'. We never seem to question this equation, since
we are so used to accepting the presumed finitude of ‘I
am’ than accepting its infinite nature.
Hence, when the scriptures point out that you are infinite, that
knowledge involves recognition (re-cognition)that I am Brahman
- and not this finite BMI that I usually take myself to be.
Hence, ‘becoming’ a knower of Brahman involves the
realization of one true identity and a recognition of the error
involved in the misapprehension that ‘I am =this ‘.
Hence, ‘knowing Brahman’ is not objective knowledge
like knowing the table but knowing myself.
Now if you look at the statement of the Upanishad,
the obviousness of the statement immediately
follows. The knower of Brahman becoming Brahman
has nothing to do with the finite becoming
infinite; it is the already-infinite 'as though'
realizing its true nature. I do not ‘become’ Brahman,
since I am already Brahman but subsequently
I am not only Brahman but recognize the
fact that I am. And it is not Brahman recognizing Brahman.
The statement does not relate to Brahman but to the seeker who
thinks he is a finite BMI. It is I, the individual or egotistical
entity who mistook myself to be finite, who drops those notions
of finiteness and subsequently recognizes my true nature.
Hence, the statement ‘brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati – he
who knows brahman become brahman’ (Mu. U. 3.2.9) entails
the recognition ‘aham brahmAsmi - I am Brahman’.
That is the only way that the equation and the statement are
fulfilled. That is how Vedanta teaches.
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