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Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 50


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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VI - Sarvätmabhäva

What self-knowledge reveals is the sarvätmabhäva [312]. It is in terms of the upädhi that there are many people. But there is only one ätmä, since all body-mind-sense-complexes are present in it as upädhis. When we count, bodies are many but from the standpoint of ätmä, which is undivided, we can count only one. So, this is the knowledge by which all beings are in one ätmä alone. Also, ätmä that is conditioned by the knower, ätmä that is conditioned by the knowledge and ätmä that is conditioned by the object of knowledge are one ätmä alone. Thus, everything is only in one ätmä [313].

 

From the existence angle, Éçvara and all names, forms and functions of the jéva and the jagat are in one sat (existence) alone as different upädhis. These do not have independent existence apart from sat. Sat that is conditioned by the sentient upädhi and the sat that is conditioned by the insentient upädhi are one alone. And existence of everything, which is sat, is nothing but the awareness of everything, which is cit. Thus, we finally arrive at one vastu alone. This recognition that everything is one vastu is sarvätmabhäva [314]. It swallows all the differences, like those between jéva and jéva, jéva and Éçvara, jéva and jagat and jagat and Éçvara.

 

It is, however, not that the person with Brahman knowledge considers all persons and things as being the very same. He knows them with their varying qualities of their upädhis; at the same time, he recognizes that the truth of everyone and everything is ätmä. He does not overlook their incidental qualities during his transactions with them. But, he knows that the differences between them are incidental and not real. Owing to this perception, his attitude to everyone and everything becomes accommodative and inclusive. Since all beings become the self, there is no other object that can be the cause for revulsion, fear or sorrow.[315]

 

VII - The self with reference to the jéva, the jagat and Éçvara

Now, “I” does not mean the I-sense associated with the body-mind-sense-complex. It means ätmä or Brahman. But the body-mind-sense-complex and the jagat continue to exist very much as before without any change. But I being different from the earlier I-sense, the understanding of I with reference to them has changed. I, as satyam, am independent of the mithyä body-mind-sense-complex, the jagat and Éçvara and am not affected by them. But the body-mind-sense-complex, the jagat and Éçvara are not separate from me, being dependent on satyam-I.

 

It is easy to grasp this situation through an illustration. Consider an actor A who takes on the role of a beggar B in a drama. Where the beggar stands, the actor stands. But there is a distance between the actor and his role. The distance is not physical but mental. The distance lies in that B’s problems and privations are not A’s problems. Owing to this fact, while being the beggar, the actor congratulates himself on doing a good job of shedding real tears. Others too congratulate him. If A were really crying, it is not a matter for congratulation. The congratulations are all because there is a distance between B and A. The cause of this distance is the knowledge of the svarüpa of A. A is A all the way. Even when he is a beggar, he is not affected by the role and does not cease to be A. While being A, he can identify with the role B, and can even make up for the missing lines of the other person who is cast with him in the drama. At the same time, he never misses out being A. This is the essence of the whole knowledge. “Everything is me but I am not anyone of them” (Bhagavadgéta 9.4).[316]

312. Knowing Brahman, Åñi Vämadeva attained sarvätmabhäva. (Åg Veda, 4.26.1.)
313. aham-yeva-idaà sarvaù-asmi-iti .. This (universe) is myself; I am all. Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 4.3.20.
314. Sarvam ätmä iti bhäva.
315. Éçäväsya Upaniñad, 6 and 7.
316. Matsthäni sarvabhütäni na cähaà teñu-avasthitaù |

To be continued...

 

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