Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 48

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem
D. Venugopal

D. Venugopal is a student of Swami Paramarthananda and a direct disciple of Pujya Swami Dayananda. He has successfully completed the long-term residential course in Vedanta and Sanskrit conducted from May 2002 to July 2005 at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Anaikatti.




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Go to Part 47

IV - The implied meaning or lakñyärtha of “tat tvam asi

We have to now examine which of these three indicators can be applied in the case of the equation, “Tat tvam asi” to arrive at the intended meaning. ‘Tat’, which is Éçvara, consists of consciousness in the upädhi of the causal, subtle and gross manifestation in its totality. ‘Tvam’, which is jéva, consists of consciousness in the upädhi of the causal, subtle and gross body of the individual. Between consciousness in the upädhi of the total and in the upädhi of the individual, there is agreement in regard to consciousness and disagreement in respect of the upädhi.


In jahad-lakñaëä, the primary meaning has to be given up. This would mean giving up of Éçvara. Even though we can bring something else in its place, we can bring in only that which is not the whole in the place of what is the whole. In that case, Tat tvam asi will not give undivided oneness, which is the vision of çruti. As regards tvam, if we give up the direct meaning of that word, which is jéva, then the word asi also goes away leaving behind tat alone. By the mere word tat, we are not teaching anything to anyone. So, the jahad-lakñaëä cannot be applied.


In ajahad-lakñaëä, the direct meaning is accepted in its entirety and we bring in a new word to make the sentence meaningful. ‘Tat’ stands for Éçvara, which includes all names and forms and does not leave out any object. So, ‘tat’ cannot receive another word. As regards ‘tvam’, or jéva, any addition to the limited-I cannot make it into Éçvara. So, it is not possible to make any meaningful addition. In any case, it is not possible to retain the entire meaning of both ‘tat’ and ‘tvam’, since it would retain the contradiction between the total and the individual upädhi, again making the equation unfeasible. So, application of the ajahad-lakñaëä is also ruled out.


It is jahad-ajahad-lakñaëä that can be applied since it is possible to accept one part and drop the other part in each of them. The contradiction between them is due to their upädhis. The jévä’s enjoyership, knowership, doership, confusion and smallness, which are due to upädhi, belong only to the causal (änandamaya), subtle (vijïäna-maya, manomaya and präëa-maya) and gross (annamaya) bodies. Similarly, Éçvara’s jagat-käraëatvam, sarvajïatvam and sarvaçaktitvam, which are due to upädhi, belong only to the total causal, subtle and gross bodies, which constitute the various worlds (prapaïcas). These attributes of the upädhi of both jéva and Éçvara are dependent on Brahman for their existence. By themselves, they are only name, form and function and are mithyä. What is common in both the individual and total with their different mithyä names, forms and functions is that they have their common being in Brahman. So, by jahad-ajahad-lakñaëä, the differences caused by the upädhis, which are mithyä, are dropped and both are revealed as Brahman.


Looking at the equation as revealing the oneness of jéva and Éçvara, Éçvara is:

1. Sthüla prapaïca, the physical universe, which is mithyä;

2. Sükñma prapaïca, the subtle universe, which is mithyä;

3. Käraëa prapaïca, the causal universe, which is mithyä;

4. Consciousness in them as cidäbhäsa, which is mithyä; and

5. Brahman, which is consciousness (cit), and which is satyam.

Jéva is:

1. Sthüla çaréra, the gross body, which is mithyä;

2. Sükñma çaréra, the subtle body, which is mithyä;

3. Käraëa çaréra, the causal body, which is mithyä;

4. Consciousness in them as cidäbhäsa, which is mithyä; and

5. Consciousness (cit), which is Brahman and which is satyam.

Of the five on both sides of the equation, four of them are different and they are all mithyä. One of them is the same, which is Brahman/consciousness and it is satyam. Among them, it is possible to accept what is satyam, which is their true nature and which is päramärthika reality and discard what is mithyä, which is their incidental nature and which is vyävahärika reality. So, by jahad-ajahad-lakñaëä, the mithya aspect of ‘tat’ (Éçvara) and of ‘tvam’ (jéva) are given up and only Brahman/consciousness, which is satyam, is taken as their meaning. This brings us to the conclusion that the equation is valid since the real nature of both jéva and Éçvara is the same limitless Brahman-ätmä [306]. This undivided oneness is called aikya. [307]


The oneness is not what is obtained by joining two divided parts. The oneness is already an obtaining fact as it ever exists and is understood in terms of Brahman knowledge. When Éçvara says: “I am Éçvara “ and jéva says: “I am jéva “, there is no difference in “I am”, which is Brahman. Only from the standpoint of the individual without Brahman knowledge, there is jévatvam (jéva-hood) and only from the point of jévatvam, there is Éçvaratvam (Éçvara-hood). On the other hand, the person with Brahman knowledge knows that in reality there is neither the jéva nor Éçvara but only Brahman. This is the exact import of jéva-éçvara-aikyam.


Çästra gives an example as to how negation of differences set up by upädhi-s brings about oneness. The king has the upädhi of kingdom and the soldier has the upädhi of the armour plate. When we remove the kingdom, the king is no longer a king and is recognized as a human being. Similarly, when we remove the armour, the soldier also ceases to be a soldier and becomes known as a human being. They are the same as human beings. Even when we recognise this fact, there are still two persons with different attributes. Similarly, Éçvara and jéva are two relative entities with different qualities but are the very same in respect of the non-relative vastu, which is one.


306. Real nature is called svarüpa.
307. This is called jéva-éçvara-aikyam.

Go to Part 49


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