Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Self-realization - what is it?
Some excerpts from a discussion that took place on the advaitin e-list
When we ask a question "is a jnani embodied" or "does a jnani have a
body" - we are by default talking about a particular namaroopa.
So the discussion itself by default - by the very nature of the
question - has become centered onto a locus - which is this 5 feet 8
inches person, 55 years old, living in Bombay, etc who in our eyes
is "a realized one". If we are talking about Brahman, then of course
it is One, without a second. But, we cannot bring a "jnani" into the
picture, and then enquire about Brahman minus any namaroopa.
There are two aspects to a jnani just like there are two aspects to
a ajnani. The sat aspect and the namaroopa or mithya aspect. For a
jnani there is abidance in the sat aspect, a Knowing, or Being, and
hence alone an abiding understanding of the mithya aspect FOr a
Jnani, everything is nonseparate from Brahman including this body -
he harbors no ownership over anything including "his" body. IN Lord
Krishna's words the tattva-vit - the knower of truth - clearly
understands that in reality "guna guneshu vartanate" - elements are
interacting among themselves.
As an example, you see a flower. what you are seeing are only
particles. in fact, you yourself are only particles. in fact
particles are seeing particles. in fact there is no seeing at all.
there are only particles. the whole "seeing" is only as though.
Similarly having understood his non-separateness from Brahman, the
seeming association with this mass of flesh blood and bones does not
create any delusion of ownership to the mind-intellect of the jnani.
Just as "mayyeva sakalam jaatam" - this body is also included in
the "sakalam" - what is the problem in that? - If you ask him when
is he giving a talk tomorrow? - he can easily say 8am - if you ask
him who he is - he is brahman - illuminating a namaroopa Swami so-
and so, and this namaroopa Swami is giving a namaroopa talk at a
namaroopa time - the reality being that there is no swami, no
talking, no time, no "thing" other than Brahman. Again, this is
purely a matter of understanding - intellectual understanding only -
there is no other kind. Prarabdha, being namaroopa, applies to the
prarabdha body and the prarabdha mind alone - how can it apply to
the satyam that the jnani knows himSelf to be.
In fact in the concluding verses of the vairagya shatakam, there is
some chillingly beatiful lines - the original sanskrit is as
movingly poetic as it is profound -
"Oh Mother Earth! Oh Wind, my Father! Oh Fire, my friend! Oh Water,
my good relative!Oh Sky, my Brother! With clasped hands this is my
concluding salutations to you!My association with you all resulted
in an accumulation of great merits, culminating in pure knowledge,
which helped me overcome the marvellous sway of Maya! May I now be
One with the Transcendent Truth!"
So the elements are thanked for partaking in a form that has helped
me across the sea of Samsara via the "amrtasya setu" of self-
Now while it is true that self-ignorance is only "as though", and
Shruti, bhashyas, Guru, etc is also only "as though", moskha also is
only "as though". As Swami Dayananda-ji often says - "the Whole
blessed thing is only "as though". One cannot categorize "self-
ignorance" in a as though bin and then put self-knowledge in
a "actual" bin.
The intellect which harbored a notion of separation, understands its
delusion for what it is. "If one thinks of oneself as free, one is
free, and if one thinks of oneself as bound, one is bound."Thinking
makes it so." - Ashtavakra Samhita
So when you say "If self-realization means `understanding' my real
nature as described in our scriptures and taught by our gurus, then
I am self-realized since 1989" - that is true - if you understood "I
am" - but then you say "However, I am still like Duryodhana" - who
is this "i" who am still like Duryodhana - the "I" that illumines
your "i am self-realized" is also the "I" that illumines your "i"
that laments about being like Duryodhana. Abide in that "I" and all
notions about your ownership or relationship with this body, this
mind etc vanish. But as we all know, that is eaiser said than done -
it requires effort (action) - effort greater than emptying an Ocean
with a blade of grass one droplet at a time - why - for preparing
the mind to gain jnana-nishtha - and that is possible only by
accruing chittashuddhi/chittanaischalyam.."I will be self-
realized only when my real nature shines forth in all its glory" -
can be a problem if one is waiting for a "mother of all events" to
happen - some awe-inspiring spectacular transcendetal
transformation! - that itself is labeled an obstacle to parAvidya -
why? - Because reality is being given to mithya - if mithya is real
then something has to happen for it to go away. If the dirt on my
cloth is real then i have to wait for a detergent to act, so the
cloth can be seen in its pure form.
Here my real nature IS shining forth in all its glory - HERE and
NOW - it has no choice but! - it is this ahankara "i" that has a
mistaken notion about my separateness or nonidentity with mySelf.
Self-knowledge puts mithya in its place - namaroopa clearly
understood is seen to be nothing but Brahman alone - "neti neti"
once understood, culminates in "poornamadam poornamidam"
From a jnani's perspective everything is Brahman alone.
To a ajnani there are three things - i, this mithya jagat, and the satyam
To a jnani both the i and the mithya jagat which very much includes "his"
When everything is known to be Brahman then there is no "other thing" to label
as "mithya" - the entire mithya is seen to be satyam alone.
Let us examine the BG and Krishna's words..
yoga samnyasta karmanam jnana sachinna samsayam atmavantam na karmani
4.41 O Dhananjaya (Arjuna), actions do not bind one who has renounced actions
through yoga, whose doubt has been fully dispelled by Knowledge, and who is not
And Shankara in his commentary clearly explains this as follows:
The Lord says: He is jnana-samchinna-samsayah, one whose doubts (samsaya) have
been fully dispelled (samchinna) by Knowledge (jnana) characterized as the
realization of the identity of the individual Self and God. O Dhananjaya, he who
has thus renounced actions through yoga, atmavantam, who is not inadvertent, not
careless; him, karmani, actions, seen as the activities of the gunas (see 3.28);
na nibadhnanti, do not bind, (i.e.) they do not produce a result in the form of
evil etc. Since one whose doubts have been destroyed by Knowledge-arising from
the destruction of the impurities (of body, mind, etc.) as result of the
practise of Karma-yoga-does not get bound by acitons owing to the mere fact of
his actions having been burnt away by Knowledge
Further in a different section
tad-buddhayas tad-atmanas tan-nisthas tat-parayanah gacchanty apunar-avrttim
jnana-nirdhuta-kalmasah vidya-vinaya-sampanne brahmane gavi hastini suni caiva
sva-pake ca panditah sama-darsinah
The sama-darsinah that is being talked about is with reference to none other
than the tad-buddhaya - the Ones whose intellect is absorbed in that. Please
read Shankara's commentary on this ensuing section.
The point is yes - the Enlightened Seer is non-separate from Brahman. He does
not harbor any vision other than that of Brahman. "Safely" encoscned in that
vision, any transactions that "his" body has to engage in is witnessed
So let us say a question is posed to ,just to take a example, say Ramana
Maharshi, "He" of course hears the question, understands it, and can articulate
a appropriate reply. Which karya-karana-sanghata partakes in this transaction -
from our standpoint - "his own" - after all some other ear cannot hear the
question and some other intellect cannot formulate an answer - right?
In fact if every enlightened person were to be "absorbed" into "Brahman" who
could ever find a Guru? If then, you actually find one, you can be sure he has
not yet been enlightened! :-)
Now if you say - no..no..from the standpoint of the Maharshi He is with
certitude absorbed into nirguna Brahman, he is akarta, etc..then my answer is
yes - of course from HIS standpoint He IS akarta.. He has no abhimana over
anything including the body-mind that is "as though" housing Him from the prior
prarabdha of "ITS" ajnana-based ahankara.
Ok...now..you may say fine - in that case, since he is akarta, let us simply say
that Ishwara or Grace is speaking and He Himself is not, Grace or Ishwara or
Devi is writing the Upadesa Sara and not the Maharshi. He never decides to do
anything as He does not have a will - it is Ishwara's will or the Cosmic will.
Well let me ask you this then? Who is writing this email right now? Who else but
Ishwara or Grace alone.
Who is reading this note right now? Ishwara alone. The eyes reading it -
Ishwara. The intellect processing it - Ishwara. Even the mind accepting or
rejecting it - Ishwara alone! But what do I, the ajnani, do - I misappropriate
ownership of this body/mind/organs and say these are "my" eyes, this is "my"
view; this is "my" thought. Why? Because of kartrtva buddhi/abhimana/ahankara
For a Jnani nothing changes except this wondrous misappropriation comes to an
end - why? because the avidya-born "agent" responsible for is dead and gone.So
when a Jnani speaks what is heard is as good as Ishwara's words, what is written
is as good as Ishwara's thoughts - there is no avidya based "individual" who
seemingly comes in the way.
Now to your question "can a jnani have a satyam and a mithya part?"
Let us hear Krishna's words:
"apareyam itas tv anyam prakrtim viddhi me param jiva-bhutam maha-baho yayedam
O mighty-armed one, iyam, this; is apara, the inferior (Prakrti)-not the higher,
(but)-the impure, the source of evil and having the nature of worldly bondage.
Viddhi, know; anyam, the other, pure; prakrtim, Prakrti; me, of Mine, which is
essentially Myself; which, tu, however;is param, higher, more exalted; itah,
than this (Prakrti) already spoken of; Jiva-bhutam, which has taken the form of
the individual souls, which is characterized as 'the Knower of the body
(field)', and which is the cause of sustenance of life; and yaya, by which
Prakriti; idam, this; jagat, world; dharyate, is upheld, by permeating it.
Here is Bhagwan Himself! - saying he has a mithya aspect - Prakrti and a satyam
aspect - Atman or Brahman. Can what is true for Bhagwan not be true for a Jnani?
It boils down to this - for a ajnani - Maya or Prakrti is samsara, a raging
tormenting sea that requires tremendous effort to cross and transcend - for a
Jnani the very same prakrti is His - His vibhuti.
He IS the sustainer of this show of plurality and this plurality is also HIM
The wave having arisen, has to recognize itself as water - having done that -
its wave"ness" then is immaterial - it can rise it can fall it can rise and fall
again and again - every wave is its wave alone - nothing can take away from its
abiding sense of poornatvam as water.
Like I said in my previous email, one can from a paramarthic standpoint say that
there is only satyam,JNANAM,anantam Brahman, and naught else. But as soon as we
utter the word "JNANI", at once there comes into play three things - a ajnani
who is handing out this label, a "individual" Jnani, and Brahman, whom the
ajnani has faith the aforesaid Jnani is "one with". The blemish is in us. The
Seers "know" - in the words of the Mundaka - atma vido viduh - the "Knowers"
It is absolutely true that there can never be sat and asat in the same locus -
they being of opposite polarity like night and day. In the Gita itself we have
the immortal lines "nasato vidyate bhavah naabhavo vidyate satah." But
Bhaskar-ji mithya is NOT asat - this is the beauty of Vedanta. There is
nonduality IN the very duality that is apparent and hence mithya. Mithya does
not have to go away - mithya understood is nothing but satyam. The pot does not
need to be broken to appreciate the clay much less the gold necklace melted into
"pure" gold. Mithya and Satyam are forever in the same locus! Anything other
than satyam jnanam anantam brahman has two aspects - the sat aspect and the
mithya (NOT asat!) aspect. Take Ishwara - what is sat about Ishwara is Brahman,
what is mithya is Maya - his inscrutable "anirvachaneeyam satasatvilakshaneeyam"
Power. Take a Jnani - what is Sat about the Jnani is the verysame Brahman -
which he is established in - what is
mithya is Ishwara's Maya-prakrti - that fashioned this karya-karana-sanghata
borne out of "a" avidya-borne ahankara which no longer is - that sanghata now is
only "as though" harboring him - in reality the Jnani as Brahman is
all-pervading, One, without a second.
But this does not mean that his intellect and mind are "gone" - if that were so
- like I said in my previous post - please explain to me how could anyone teach?
who would be a Guru? Only a brahmavit, a tattvavit, a brahmanishthaa, can be a
Guru - when Krishna says "tattva-vit tu maha-baho guna-karma-vibhagayoh guna
gunesu vartante iti matva na sajjate" - if a tattva-vit has no mind and no
intellect then please explain to me if this "iti matva" is possible or makes any
What prolific intelligence Bhagwan Shankara had to write all these bashyas! -
what an Ocean of compassion! - and all this intelligence without an intellect??
and compassion without a mind?? Can Brahman -- which is akarta, nirguna, asanga
have Compassion? So if you say Bhagwan Shankara wrote the Shankarabhasyams ;-),
and many other works, one has to perforce admit that as an individual Bhagwan
Shankara (and this is true for any other Jnani - take your own ParamaGuruji as
another example) did have a razor-sharp intellect and a overwhelmingly
This does not in any way compromise on advaita precisely because of the
difference between "mithya" and "asat" Advaita is understanding the nonduality
that is inherent in the duality. Understanding that my eyes, the intellect that
sees, the act of seeing, and what is seen are One and that One is "I" - the
light of all lights -jyotisam jyoti, shrotrasya shrotram, etc. THIS is
nonduality IN duality.
Then alone can this Brahma-vit bless so many others - not because "he" has a
obligation to - but because Grace or the Cosmic Order is allowed to use his BMI
to benefit others - there being no "ahankara" to impede Its functioning. See
what Shankara says in his commentary on BG 3.22-25," if, like Me, you or some
one else possesses the conviction of having attained Perfection and is a knower
of the Self, it is a duty of such a one, too, to help others even if there be no
obligation on his own part. O scion of the Bharata dynasty, yatha, as; some
avidvamsah, unenlightened poele; kurvanti, act. saktah, with attachment;
karmani, to work, (thinking) 'The reward of this work will accrue to me'; tatha,
so; should vidvan, the enlightened person, the knower of the Self; kuryat, act;
asaktah, without attachment, remaining unattached. Why does he (the enlightened
person) act like him (the former)? Listen to that: Cikirsuh, being desirous of
prevention of people from going astray. 'Neither for Me who am a knower of the
Self, nor for any other (knower of the Self) who wants thus prevent people from
going astray, is there any duty apart from working for the welfare of the world.
Hence, the following advice is being given to such a knower of the Self:' I do
not know about you, but to me in the unambiguous words, Krishna is not talking
about Knowers of the Self who have been rendered bereft of both mind and
The mithya involved in this transactionality does not compromise on the advaitic
substratum in which it occurs.
Ahankara is purely notional. To pretend that manas and buddhi can "resolve" into
Brahman, can be sublated into "Pure Being" or any concept of that kind is absurd
- manas and buddhi ARE Brahman - everything IS Brahman - then where can there be
any question of something that will resolve into Brahman - that too at a point
in the future time when time again is Brahman - it is like saying the wave's
waveness will one day resolve into water - there is no wave other than water! -
there is no intellect other than Brahman. And so by referring to a Jnani's
intellect we are not partitioning Brahman - even conceptually.
So for a Jnani - the body, mind and intellect are also not other than Brahman,
his shishyas if any are also similarly not other than Brahman, their asking him
questions is also Brahman and his answers is also Brahman Alone.
Advaita is never compromised in "His" vision.