Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 49

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 48

V - Recognising the true self through the mahäväkya [308]

We may now see as to how we come to recognize the true self through the mahäväkya. Firstly, the relevant points regarding the generation of any knowledge are:

• knowledge always takes place in the form of thought (vrtti) generated in the mind (antaù-karaëa) by the operation of the appropriate means of knowledge;

• the antaù-karaëa is always pervaded by the reflected consciousness (cidäbhäsa), even at the time of deep sleep;

• the operation of the means of knowledge modifies the antaù-karaëa in the form of thought (vrtti);

• since the antaù-karaëa is pervaded by reflected consciousness, the vrtti is pervaded by it and becomes known.

• Every knowledge (jïänam) has thus two components, (i) the vrtti and (ii) reflected consciousness (cidäbhäsa).

As regards knowing of objects through direct perception,

• the antaù-karaëa through the sense organ reaches out to the object in the form of våtti;

• this våtti pervades the object and the pervasion of the antaù-karaëa-våtti is called våtti-vyäpti;

• since the våtti is with cidäbhäsa, there is corresponding pervasion of the cidäbhäsa also. It is called cidäbhäsa-vyäpti. This is also referred to as phala-vyäpti;

• the våtti-vyäpti and phala-vyäpti perform two different jobs;

• the våtti-vyäpti removes the veil of ignorance (ävaraëa-nivåtti) and thereby removes ignorance (ajïäna-nivåtti) in respect of the object. For example, pot-våtti-vyäpti removes pot-ävaraëam and thereby removes pot-ajïäna;

• the cidäbhäsa-vyäpti illumines the object [309];

• as the veil of ignorance is removed and the unveiled object is illumined, knowledge takes place. The user of the antaù-karaëa then says, “This is a pot”.


We may now see as to how the knowledge that, “I am Brahman” takes place.

• When we listen to the teaching, which is çabda-pramäëa, the våtti is produced.

• The pramäëa negates the differences between ‘tat’, which is Éçvara and ‘tvam’, which is jéva and then says, “tat tvam asi” which means, “that Éçvara is you”. After the negation of the differences, what is common between Éçvara and the jéva is limitless-ness or akhaëòa. It means that between what is revealed by the knowledge and the knower, there is no difference or division to create any limitation [310]. This våtti created by the mahäväkya is, therefore, called the akhaëòäkära-våtti [311], or våtti with limitless form.

• The akhaëòäkära-våtti-vyäpti removes the veil (ävaraëa) created by ajïäna in respect of Brahman and removes Brahman-ignorance (Brahma-ajïäna-nivåtti).

• But, as in the case of objects, the cidäbhäsa-vyäpti, which is present, does not have to illumine Brahman, as Brahman is itself consciousness, which is self-luminous. Only the non-luminous requires to be illumined and not the self-luminous. For example, the moon, which reflects the light from the sun, does not have to illumine the luminous sun for the sun to be known. To know anätma, we require the våtti and cidäbhäsa; but to know Brahman, we require only the akhaëòäkära-våtti. So, in the case of Brahma-jïänam, the cidäbhäsa-vyäpti, which is called the phala-vyäpti, is not utilized, even though it is present.

We are always aware of ourself; only, out of ajïäna, we identified ourselves with the body-mind-sense-complex and were saying, “I am the body-mind-sense-complex”. After hearing the mahäväkya, our ajïäna is gone and we recognize that we are Brahman and say, “I am Brahman”. This recognition is called brahma-säkñätkära or ätma-säkñätkära.


Brahman-ätmä is not something that comes into being after the ignorance is removed, since it is ever present in its true nature. Ajïäna-nivåtti is, therefore, not the cause and the true nature of Brahman-ätmä is not the effect. It is like the already present light becoming evident as light when what is obstructing its vision is removed.


The akhaëòäkära-våtti disappears on its own accord in the same way as the kataka, which is used to clarify water with sediments, gets precipitated along with the sediments or like the medicine that gets itself removed after curing the disease. Thus, like any other våtti, akhaëòäkära-våtti is also impermanent and is mithyä. But the knowledge remains intact, as in any other case.

308. This section is based on Swami Paramarthananda’s class No.184 on Païcadaçé.
309. This is called viñaya-prakäçanam or viçaya-sphürthi.
310. That is, there is no difference among the knower, the knowledge and the known. The collective name for these three is tripuöé. The disappearance of the distinction between them is called tripuöé-vilaya.
311. akhaëòa means limitless. Äkära means form.

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