An Analysis of the Brahma Sutra
by Swami Krishnananda


Chapter 11: The Preliminaries to Sadhana

That so many commentators and Acharyas who expounded the meaning of the Brahma Sutra did not give a uniform definition of the nature of liberation should imply that the attainment of liberation is not an easy thing. It is not a joke. The difficulty whether in understanding the meaning of liberation or in knowing the method of attaining liberation arises because of our intricate involvement in the world of sensory perception and body-consciousness. These things prevent us from thinking rightly. Any amount of logical argument will finally be based on the body-consciousness and the perception of the world through the sense-organs from which conditioning none is free.

Nobody will deny the value and validity of sense-perception; none can also deny body-consciousness. With this kind of impediment we are trying to understand Brahman. Even the commentators are, after all, this kind only. With all their good intentions and well-meaning, the Acharyas also see the world through the sense-organs and they have a personality, though all these great ones have a special intuition of their own.

To divest ourselves from this inescapable impediment what kind of Tapas have we to perform in order to attain liberation. Our notions of value have no ultimate meaning in the path of the spirit. We have to decondition our mind first of all, and get reborn. The idea is that we must be reborn into the spirit. We never belong to this world at all – in your mind at least; you should not think in terms of your body or the world if you wish to have an impartial opinion on anything. All the laws and regulations are made by human beings. Anything that you say, any law, regulation, discipline which people speak of, codes of behaviour, have no final significance because they are born of certain basic wrong notions of the mind which is conditioned and determined by sense-organs and body-consciousness. Great reason indeed why Yama would not answer the crucial question to Nachiketas: 'You little boy! Do not talk to me too much!'

But we want liberation. The arduous task before us is sadhana. What is sadhana? It is not just merely chanting something and reading a book and getting up in the morning for prayer. Sadhana is a slow and graduated disentanglement of the mind from thinking in terms of the body and the world of objects.

God is not so easy to attain. He is easy to attain also, in one sense but because of the obstruction of body-consciousness, it is hard to attain. Most educated people, most learned, great scholars, even saints and sages get angry if one insults them. There were Visvamitra, Durvasa – great sages – irritable types; Why are they irritable? Because whatever big tapasya they did, they could not forget that they are in the body. This is the vicious veil that has entered everyone's consciousness.

Honesty with God is real honesty. Human honesty with other people, shopkeepers – that is one kind of social honesty; To be honest with God, that is a different matter altogether – it does not come under the ethics of the world. Spirituality is above human ethics in the sense that God has no binding ethics. To think like this is a veritable blow on the human way of thinking. You cannot carry the human way of thinking and enter God, and if you do not want to shed the human way of thinking, be happy here!

'I will give you everything that you want, all the beauties, all the gold, silver, long life, good dishes!', Yama told, 'Be happy! Why are you worrying about the 'Beyond', and all that?!' Everybody should read the Kathopanishad. There are some Ashrams in India where it is made compulsory to recite the Kathopanishad every day. This is a brief presentation of the whole of spirituality, right from the initial stage to the ultimate; and in beautiful poetry; very sonorous and pleasing to read and hear.

If any one of us is a student of liberation, we have to find time to probe into ourselves. You are not what other people think you are. 'I am not what other people think I am' – this must be accepted by everybody. Go to your bathroom, go to your kitchen, go to your bedroom – there is nobody to tell you anything, there is nobody to praise you; you are alone – at that time, you assess yourself. 'What is the value that I have in the eye of God?' Imagine that the Almighty is looking at you with millions of eyes all around, He is seeing you; your conscience can tell you what God would be thinking about you. You should not say 'God may think anything, I do not know; – How do I know?'. We can know it, because God has planted Himself in our heart. The Inner Voice will tell us what God is thinking about us. We may be fear-struck; we will not like to see the face of God – we will not like; we will not wish that He sees us; 'Oh! Let Him be a little far away', because we know that we have such stupid things inside that we do not want to expose them even before God.

Cleansing is necessary. What can we say? People struggled hard with Gurus for years and years to know the secret of meditation on God; They rid themselves of entanglements, loves and hatreds, associations of every kind, desires, passions, greed and hatred – everything; they kept quiet and lived contented with whatever they received for the maintenance of the body; they didn't ask for anything else; they would prefer to live alone. If God is an 'Aloneness', we have to learn to be alone in ourselves.

'The alone will go to the Alone', as it is well said. A society cannot reach God; a political organisation cannot reach God; a corporate body cannot reach God. The alone goes to the Alone. What is your 'aloneness'? 'I am alone' – feel – 'Five hundred miles around me, there is no human being' – nobody to tell you what you are. You cannot behave in any particular manner because behaviour is in respect of somebody else; that somebody does not exist – imagine with the strength of your mind 'for five hundred miles around there is no human being; so what kind of behaviour can I manifest?'; The social conditioning goes away immediately, because behaviour is a social factor. People say 'you must behave well' – if you are alone, then, what kind of behaviour is it? Behave with yourself only.

It is necessary to live alone. It is not good to live with a multitude of people – else man-made artificial ethics will catches hold of you; 'What do people think about me and what should I think about them? What are they saying about me?'! These questions will not arise when you are alone. This is why, in principle, as a preliminary exercise, teachers enjoin seclusion of sadhakas for sometime. Go to a distant place and live alone. Do not write letters to anybody. Don't have communication with any person; stay for three months alone somewhere.

Even if by the effort of the will, you live alone for three months, then the mind will revolt and make it uncomfortable for you to exist; You will have unknown fears, the fears created by the ego – the ego which feels that it is going to lose itself. Immediately it will kick up a row. Then people who live alone for a long time in far-off places disentangling themselves from connection with anybody will have the fear of death! They will shiver suddenly, 'Something is wrong with me'.

In order to avoid that kind of extreme step of isolating oneself totally in some distant place risking one's life, it is better to go slowly, and do this exercise every day. Everyone has a place to stay; they have a room, they can sit anywhere. For one hour you keep quiet and put this question to yourself 'What am I in the eye of the Almighty whom I want to attain?' Your conscience will answer this question. You may answer this question to yourself and you may feel at that time God's opinion about you will be that you are a fool, you have no worth – this your conscience may tell you sometimes, 'In the eye of God, am I a fool?' Is that so? In spite of the world praising you as a Nobel laureate, let it be anything, but you may be a fool basically. What is the use of a certificate given by people? Let the certificate come from God. However, if the heart is pure and honest, and the aspiration clear, there would be no such fear and there will arise a confidence.

Why is it that people cannot sit alone for sometime? How is it that they are so fidgety? – that they must go away here, there, see some people, talk something and chat something! What is the difficulty? Is it not necessary that we should save ourselves from this perdition of rebirth? Why is it not possible for a person to be alone to oneself without any kind of mental contact and then practise self-investigation? Due to poverty of one's soul and the finitude of one's existence, such a helpless state may befall very often.

Wanting the Ultimate Being, God Almighty, is not a fearsome exercise. It is a way of flooding oneself with joy. Contemplation on God in the true sense of the Universality of His existence – in one minute if it could be done, will make one feel that a world of forces are entering into oneself. The Power of God does not take time to enter us. The subtle devil will speak again, 'God? How long will it take, I do not know. I am not meant for that.' 'When will He come? We do not know; I am suffering.'. The thought of God is not a fear-striking exercise. If you feel that you are a nobody, a non-entity before God, you may have fear before Him, because of the worthlessness of your existence in the light of God's Being. But why should you feel so? Why should you feel you are worthless?

You put a question to yourself – 'what is wrong with me? I am a good person' – you tell yourself – 'I am really a good person; I do not harm anyone and I do not speak anything that is vicious. Close your eyes – 'Am I a good person? Have I done any harm or have I an intention to do any harm?; You feel 'No! I am really a good person'; You tell God 'I am a good person; I am honest; I have no desires; I am not vicious; I am not greedy; I am not passionate; I am not irritable; I want nothing – God will open His eyes and shower His Grace upon you. Since God is above time, He does not take time to shower His Grace. Do not doubt, do not lose faith. I assure you – one day you will change, even in a single day, anyone of you; do not feel miserable; do not feel that you are worthless or 'this is not meant for you'; 'It is too big a thing, it is not meant for us' – do not say like that. You are not small, or foolish people; tell yourself 'I am not a foolish person; I am honest; I am not greedy, I am a good person' – go on telling yourself – 'I am a good person'; You will then be a good person only. It is a kind of mantra, and you will become that very thing. 'I am really a good person; Yes! I know, I am sure; I am a good person, and God is kind to me; I will get anything from Him; I want Him; I do not want anything else' – Tell this to yourself a hundred times. This is potent Sadhana.

All these general personal details are not in the Brahma Sutra, but these instructions are implied. Honesty with God is the sadhana. To be honest with God, you have to think like God. How does God think? In a Total fashion; Imagine; how does God think? The whole Universe has engulfed itself into a single centre of experience. Immediately you will feel a sensation in your skin; you will feel your skin vibrating; like ants crawling on your body, you will feel something happening to you. O Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Sky! You are my friends – Bhartrihari in his 'Vairagya Satakam', says, O Mother Earth! You have sustained me for such a long time; O Brother Water! You have sustained me for such a long time; O Dear friend Agni, Fire! You have sustained me for such a long time; O Vayu! I have breathed you for such a long time and you have been very kind to me; O Akasa! O Space! You have given me permission to stay here. Now I bid good-bye to you all! Free me from these obligations. Take all this that you have given to me like a loan, I return the loan to you – leeye para brahmani – 'Now I enter the All-Being'. This is the concluding prayer of Bhartrihari.

There are verses of this kind in the Manu Smriti, also – very touching and noble sentiments. What I am finally saying is that everyone should be able to sit alone for one hour at least. It is not that it should be in the midst of a crowd of people; you may sit alone – alone with God – feel that you are alone with God and feel 'God is very kind to me and He is pleased with me'. If you feel thus, He will be really pleased with you. 'I am feeling that God is pleased with me; He is coming near me; He is entering me; He has entered me; I am shuddering because of the vastness that is entering into my finite self'.

This is Vaishvanara Vidya meditation, which is emphasised in the Upanishad and reiterated in the Brahma Sutra. This is also equal to Bhuma Vidya, which is interpreted in the Brahma Sutra. This teaching appears in the Chhandogya Upanishad: 'In this entry of All-Being into myself, I have nothing to think in the mind.' It is Being engulfing Being, Light entering Light, the 'I' entering the 'I', bubble entering the Ocean.

Everyday sit and think deeply. This is briefly Bhuma Vidya or Vaishvanara Vidya, the highest kind of meditation one can think of. The great trouble with us is that we feel it is not possible. 'It is not possible for me. I am not fit for this.' 'I have many problems; I have difficulties of many kinds.' All the difficulties will melt away. Mountains of sins can be destroyed by the Flame of Knowledge, says the Bhagavad Gita:

Jnanagnih sarvakarmani bhasmasat 'kurute tatha.
(Bhagavad Gita IV.37)

As heaps of straw can be reduced to ashes by one matchstick, mountains of errors which you might have committed in the past in many lives will be wiped out by the entry of this Knowledge of the All-Being.

There was a great saint called Raikva – we have this mentioned in the Chhandogya Upanishad. He developed another type of meditation, a modified form of Vaishvanara Vidya. A disciple went to this master and told him, 'Please teach me what you know'. He taught a Vidya called Samvarga Vidya. Samvarga Vidya means 'the Art of absorbing everything into oneself'.

In the usual concept of the Vaishvanara Vidya, the exercise is in identifying oneself with everything. Here we have a slight modification; You absorb the sun into yourself; 'I am blazing like the sun; I am resplendent like the sun'; Absorb the moon into yourself; Absorb all space into yourself; Absorb the whole world into yourself; Absorb all the people in the world into yourself; Absorb all the divinities in heaven into yourself; Absorb all the fourteen worlds into yourself – and stand like a Mighty Emperor of the Universe. This is the Samvarga Vidya, the art of absorbing everything into oneself, so that one becomes everything, and, as the Upanishad says, the good deeds of everyone converge into this person, and anyone's virtue is his virtue.