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Advaita for the 21st Century

Vedanta - Part 59


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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IV - Nididhyäsanam as set out in Bhagavadgétä

Contemplation is set out in Bhagavadgétä [357] as yoga. In it, the physical preparation consists of choosing a secluded, undisturbed place and a seat which is neither too low nor high and neither too hard nor too soft. The body, neck and head have to be erect and the external objects should be kept out of sight by looking as though at the tip of the nose. The breathing should be even. The mental preparation consists of giving up all desires and withdrawing the mind and sense organs from all other activities with the help of the discriminating intellect. The meditation consists of abiding in the self with a tension-free, undisturbed, withdrawn and one-pointed mind. If the mind gets distracted, it is brought back to one’s own self so that the flow of similar thoughts is constant. When there is absorption of mind, abidance becomes effortless. Thus, the contemplator effortlessly abides as the self with the knowledge that “I am the self”. The abidance in ätmä is purely in the form of clear knowledge. This is called jïäna-samädhi.

 

V - Jïäna-niñöhä

The state of abidance as ätmä is called jïäna-niñöhä [358] (being the knowledge) or brähmé-sthiti (being Brahman) or brahma-nirväëam (absorption as Brahman) or svätmanyavasthänam (established as the self). The person with jïäna-niñöhä is called a sthitaprajïa or as person for whom the knowledge of ätmä stays without any doubt, vagueness or error. The knowledge that “I am the whole”, “paraà brahma aham asmi” is well established and well rooted. He remains in his true nature effortlessly in and through all transactions. The sthitaprajïa is also referred to simply as a jïäné or a wise person. As we shall see, he is a jévan-mukta, or a person who is free even while living in the body.

 

JÉVAN-MUKTA

 

I - The changes that ätmä-jïäna brings about

Çruti says that the person who knows Brahman becomes Brahman itself and asserts that he attains the infinite [359] and becomes immortal here itself [360]. The rationale behind this assertion is simple and is as follows: 

 

• The self, which is Brahman, is limitless;

• It always remains so, since it is unattached (asaìga);

• Owing to in born ignorance (avidyä or ajïäna), the intellect considers the self to be limited to the body-mind-sense complex;

• As soon as the intellect recognizes through the teaching that the self is limitless (jïäna), the intellect drops the wrong notion of its limitation (ajïäna);

• As knowledge removes ignorance in the same way as light dispels darkness, recognition of the self, which is Brahman, in its true nature is immediate. As Båhdäraëyaka Upaniñad says, ‘Being but Brahman, he attains Brahman’ [361].

 

The person who abides in Brahman-knowledge ceases to be a jéva. He is called the jévan-mukta, or the person who is freed even while living [362]. This position does not change even when he transacts with the world. He stays in his true nature regardless of the activities of the body-mind-sense-complex [363]. He does not have to remove a single thought from his mind to be what he is, even as there is no need to remove the wave to discover the water, once it is known that wave is water. For him, there is nothing, which is ever other than Brahman, and that Brahman is ever himself [364].

 

The jévan-mukta continues to have the same old body with the same old features. The body does not disappear along with self-ignorance, as only an existent body is mistaken to be ätmä. It is not like the non-existent snake for it to disappear on being known to be a rope. It is like the colorless crystal continuing to appear to be colored even after knowing that the color belongs to the flower and not to the crystal. Thus, the body-mind-sense-complex continues to exist and is experienced even after the erroneous self-knowledge has been corrected [365]. The jïäné continues to function in it, but without the “I” sense and “my” sense with reference to it. His bio-data remains the same for the world but he has the understanding that it pertains only to the body-mind-sense-complex and not to ätmä. He uses it merely for transacting with the world without any sense of identification with it. He continues to experience the body with its physical pain and disease; but he does not consider them to be his affliction but that of the body and is objective in dealing with it. What he is free from is the mental suffering that usually arises out of owning the physical discomfort as one’s own. He continues to rely on the world for meeting his physical needs as before. Only, he is free from the insecurity that this situation had earlier caused.

 

357. In the sixth chapter.
358. Some times the commitment to the pursuit of knowledge leading to jñäna-niñthä is also referred to as jñäna-niñthä.
359. Brahmavidäpnoti param| Taittiréya Upaniñad, 2.1.
360. Tamevaà vidvän amåta iha bhavati| Puruñasüktam, 7.
361. Brahmaiva sanbrahmäpyeti, 4.4.6.
362. This is called sadyo-mukti (instant mukti).
363. .. svena rüpeëäbhiniñpadyata..| Chändogya Upaniñad, 8.3.4. The achievement of the establishment as the actionless self is called naiñkarma-siddhi.
364. idaà sarvaà yadayamätmä|This all are this self. (Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 2.4.6.)
yevameväsminnätmani, sarvaëi bhütäni, sarve deväù, sarve lokäù, sarve präëäù, sarva eta ätmänaù samarpitäù|
In this self are fixed all gods, all world, all organs and all these selves. (Båhadäraëyaka Upaniñad, 2.5.15.)
365. These were explained in Chapter 14 also.

This section to be continued...

 

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