by Swami Krishnananda
“If one realises that one’s essential nature is the Atman, then, desiring what, and for what purpose, should one identify oneself with the body?” We shall discuss here the true import of this scriptural statement.
The entire creation is a joint action of Isvara and Jiva, one providing the material, and the other the means of experience. It was already noticed that the creation of Isvara extends from His original Will to diversify Himself to the act of His animation of all individualities; and the creation of Jiva commences from the waking consciousness and ends in final liberation from individuality (Vide, Aitareya Upanishad). The Jiva, which is the cause of its own bondage, is in essence the Kutastha-Atman, but, somehow, it begins to assume an independence and importance by mutual transference of attributes between the Atman and the Chidabhasa, and by considering that the intellect is its real form. There is no such thing as Jiva independent of the Kutastha, because the former cannot exist without the latter. The feeling of Jivahood arises when the Chidabhasa, which is an appearance of Kutasthta in the intellect, is identified with the three bodies, and gets used to feel that it is a part of Samsara. When the time comes for the Jiva, in a state of maturity, to discard its personality and individuality, and accept the presence of its own higher Self, then it is that it begins to feel its oneness with the unattached Atman.
Though the Atman has no feeling of ‘I’-ness, the feeling ‘I am the Atman’ is possible, as there are two subtle meanings of the term ‘I’, other than the ordinary one that is known in connection with the body by a mixing up of the natures of Kutastha and Chidabhasa. An illumined soul has a deep consciousness whereby there arises an occasional feeling of the body and the world, simultaneously with the constant feeling that he is the Atman. This is possible due to his being in a state of Sattva, where is a clear discernment of the presence of the original universality, though the limitation of the reflection is also felt together. Hence, while referring to bodily actions, the knower refers to the lower ‘I’ or Chidabhasa, and when feeling that he is the Absolute, he makes reference to the higher ‘I’, or Kutastha. It is not easily understandable as to how one and the same person has two feelings at the same time. But it is an uncommon possibility with a sage, due to the Jiva being an appearance and yet rooted in the Atman. The Chidabhasa asserts: ‘I am the Atman’, because its meaning is in the Atman, as a reflection has meaning only in its original.
As the Chidabhasa is entirely dependent on the Kutastha, it has no independent reality. Hence its activities, also, have no reality of their own. The efforts of the Chidabhasa are within Samsara, and even its lofty aspirations in the form of the spiritual quest are within phenomena, though this highest work on its part is capable of removing its ignorance and awakening it into a sublime Consciousness. As the movement of a rope-snake is not real, so are the changes of the Chidabhasa, by themselves. From this it would follow that the knowledge which the Chidabhasa is endeavouring to attain would also be unreal; but this is no fault; for, to dispel what is not really there, a knowledge which is of the same category of being would suffice. As a certain experience in dream may awaken the dreamer from the dream, though that experience is within the dream, the spiritual endeavour of the Chidabhasa in the form of meditation on the Kutastha-Atman brings about its liberation, though this process is within the realm of appearance in which the Chidabhasa is involved. It is in the culmination of this knowledge that the Chidabhasa begins to feel its identity with the Kutastha, by dissociating itself from the feeling of the body. Its liberation becomes complete when it reaches a certainty of consciousness that it is the Atman, as intensely as it feels that it is the body in the worldly state. It begins to realise: ‘I am this Atman’. (Verses 1-20)
A distinction between direct and indirect knowledge, as well as knowledge and ignorance, in the case of the Atman, is possible, as could be illustrated by the following analogy:
One of the ten persons that crossed a river, while counting the number among them that have safely reached the other bank, lost consciousness of one among them, namely himself, by forgetting himself in directing his attention entirely to the others whom he was counting. This state of not finding the tenth person out of the group, though he is really there, is Ajnana or ignorance of truth. The consequent feeling that the tenth person is not there, and is not seen, is Avarana or the veil that casts itself over one’s consciousness. The subsequent grief, due to the feeling that the tenth person is dead, is Vikshepa or the distraction that arises out of it. The faith that the tenth person is alive, which arises when they are told about the fact by a friend who passes by, is the indirect knowledge obtained through a teacher, that the object of quest is, after all, there. When the tenth man is told that he himself is the one whom he has been searching all the while, the knowledge that arises in him, then, indirect knowledge or experience. This leads to the satisfaction that the object sought for has been gained, and all sorrow departs.
The Chidabhasa is in a similar position. It is the tenth man struggling in ignorance and its effects. It is engrossed in the perception of the world of objects, and as its attention is completely lost in them, it never realises that there is the eternal Atman, which is itself in truth. This is Ajnana. It further feels that the Atman is not there, and is not seen. This is Avarana. It then feels, again, that it is the doer, enjoyer, and so on. This is Vikshepa. When a competent person instructs it that the Atman exists, it has Paroksha-Jnana, or indirect knowledge. When it is told that it is itself the Atman, and there comes about this realisation due to intense meditation, there is Aparoksha-Jnana or direct knowledge. Then the grief-ridden world, with agency, enjoyment, etc., vanishes, and it arrives at the supreme satisfaction that on the realisation of the Atman, everything necessary has been done, and obtained. Here the goal of life of the Chidabhasa is reached. (Verses 21-32)
The stages of knowledge mentioned above, are conditions of the Chidabhasa. Of these seven stages, viz., ignorance (Ajnana), veil (Avarana), distraction (Vikshepa), indirect knowledge (Paroksha-Jnana), direct knowledge (Aparoksha-Jnana), freedom from sorrow (Sokamoksha), and satisfaction (Tripti), the first three are the sources of bondage, while the later stages are processes of the liberation of the Chidabhasa. Ajnana or ignorance is the condition wherein seated the Jiva has no knowledge, at all, of there being such reality as the Atman. It is the state where there is not even the feeling that one is in a state of ignorance. It is complete obscuration of knowledge, and absence of an awakening into the true state of affairs. On account of restricting oneself entirely to the intellectual ways of approach and not receiving inspiration from the revelations of the scriptures and the words of saints and sages, the Jiva begins to feel, as a consequence of ignorance, that the Atman is not there and is not known. This is the effect of Ajnana. Its further effect is body-consciousness by which there is an intensification of Jivahood and engagement in actions with the notions of agency, or doership and enjoyership. This is the Samsara of the Jiva to which it gets bound. Though Ajnana and Avarana are prior to the active appearance of the Chidabhasa, they are to be regarded as its own conditions, since they cannot be states of the Atman, and, also, they are merely the causal conditions of the Chidabhasa, to sprout later. There is the Samskara or impression of the Vikshepa even before its actual rising into visibility. It is this Samskara that exists in a latent form as Ajnana and Avarana. Nor can it be thought that these are states of Brahman, just because they are superimposed on it, for, in fact, everything in this world is superimposed on Brahman. Hence, the Jiva’s subsequent feeling of being in bondage, having knowledge, getting freed, and attaining joy, as also its conditions of ignorance, and the feeling that there is neither existence nor knowledge of the Atman, are its own relative conditions, whether manifest or unmanifest. The superimposition on Brahman is made by the Jiva. Brahman, by itself, has nothing to do with this superimposition. Brahman is the final substratum of the appearance of Ajnana and its effects, while the Jiva is the experiencer of these, and is involved in their meshes. By the indirect knowledge received through a Teacher, the Jiva knows that the Atman is, and by the direct knowledge attained through realisation, it merges in the Atman. When knowledge of the Atman arises, the idea of Jivahood vanishes, and together with it the feelings of doership and enjoyership, etc., as well as the whole world of bondage and sorrow. On account of the complete removal of Samsara of the Jiva by the illumination of knowledge, there shines forth the experience of eternal freedom, and unfettered bliss which knows no end.
Aparoksha-Jnana, and the removal of sorrow by means of it, are the conditions of the Jiva. It is this truth that has been revealed in the verse quoted from the Upanishad, in the beginning of this section. Aparoksha-Jnana is only a continuation and deepening, and not a negation, of Paroksha-Jnana. As the Atman is self-luminous, and thereby its existence is recognised by the purified intellect, it can be said that knowledge of the Atman has two aspects or stages, in one of which there is immediate realisation of its essence, and in the other there is only a mediate knowledge in regard to its existence alone. The characters of reality known are the same both in indirect and direct knowledge. Notwithstanding that there is a difference in the quality of experience in the two stages, Paroksha-Jnana is valid, since it refers to certain facts about Brahman, and not unrealities.
It is not that the existence of Brahman as indirectly known in Paroksha-Jnana is contradicted in Aparoksha-Jnana, for what takes place in the latter is an intensification and exaltation of the contents of the former, but not a negation of them, since it is never seen that Brahman’s existence is subject to contradiction. Just as we have a real, though inadequate, knowledge of existence of heavenly regions, etc., from scriptures, there is an inadequacy, but not unreality, in Paroksha knowledge of Brahman. The aspect of Brahman that is known in Paroksha-Jnana is its existence, and the aspect that is realised in Aparoksha-Jnana is its essential nature as Consciousness. The veil over the ‘existence’ is removed in Paroksha-Jnana, while the observation of the ‘Consciousness’ is removed in Aparoksha-Jnana. As in the case of the tenth person in the analogy cited, the knowledge of the existence of the tenth person derived by hearing it from a friend is real and not invalid in any way, the knowledge that is derived from the Preceptor as to the existence of Brahman is a fact that is not going to be contradicted, later. As, when true knowledge dawns that the one who is counting is himself the tenth person, he would include himself in counting the members of the group, and would not forget himself as he did before, so the Chidabhasa which, in its state of ignorance, forgot itself while being engrossed in the objects of the world, would always take into consideration its essential universal nature in reckoning the five sheaths and in its dealings with anything in this world, when it awakens to the knowledge that what it sought for in the world of objects has been its own Self, and not anything lying away from it. After the dawn of knowledge, the forgetfulness of the Atman will never recur again, wherever one may find oneself in the world, and in whatever condition, and it would then be immaterial where and how one is, because of the certainty of realisation that the supreme objective of quest has been attained.
The mode of the introduction of the mind of the student from Paroksha-Jnana to Aparoksha-Jnana is indicated in the sixth chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad, while Uddalaka Aruni instructs the student Svetaketu. While the indirect knowledge of Brahman is declared in such statements of the Upanishad as ‘Satyam-Jnanam-Anantam Brahma,’ – Truth-Knowledge-Infinity is Brahman, the direct knowledge of it is the theme of the sixth chapter of the Chhandogya Upanishad, which expatiates upon the great sentence, ‘Tat-Tvam-Asi’ – ‘That Thou Art’. The demonstrative pronouns, ‘That’ and ‘‘Thou’, refer to a remote object and an immediate object respectively, as is well known. In this sentence, ‘That’ indicates Isvara, or God, and the word ‘Thou’ indicates Jiva, or the individual. The separative connotation of these two indicative words may appear to prevent the identification of Isvara and Jiva, since, at least from the point of view of the Jiva, Isvara is a remote object who existed even before creation, and the Jiva is a subsequent manifestation posterior to creation. But the inseparability of the cause and its effect requires the recognition of an identical substance present both in God, the Creator, and the individual, the created embodiment. The usual illustration offered to explain this basic identity of this Supreme Cause with the individual effect is the way in which we recognize the identity of a person here and now with the very same person seen somewhere else at a different time. In the identification of the single person in this manner, the associations of the person with a different place and a different time from the place and the time in which he is recognised now, are ignored, and only the person concerned is taken into consideration, for instance, when we say ‘This is that Devadatta’, indicating thereby that this Devadatta who is in this place at this moment is the same Devadatta who was seen at some other time earlier in some other place. In a similar manner, the identity of the basic Substance in God and the individual is established by a separation of this Substance from the limiting adjuncts of remoteness and immediacy associated with God and the individual – Isvara and the Jiva.
It is the appearance of space and time in the creational process that causes this apparent distinction between the cosmic and the individual, projecting the appearance of externality in the world and an immediacy of selfhood in the individual perceiver thereof. We say that God is Omniscient, Sarvajna, and the individual is of little knowledge, Alpajna; God is Omnipresent, Sarvantaryami, and the individual is localised, Aikadesika; God is Omnipotent, Sarvasaktiman, and the individual is impotent, Alpasaktiman. These well-known distinctions which appear to be absolutely real, are in fact apparitions caused by the projective activity of the interfering principles of space, time and causality. In this sense, we may say that what we call the world and world-experience is only a space-time complex outwardly cognised by the finite consciousness of the individual.
The process of the negation of the space-time attributes and the taking in of the main Substance involved, in the illustration cited, is a local procedure known as Bhagatyaga-Lakshana, or Jahad-Ajahad-Lakshana, in the language of the Vedanta philosophy, meaning thereby, ‘Defining by division and separation’ and ‘Defining by rejecting and taking in’, as detailed. The relationship between the individual and the Absolute, thus, is neither one of contact of two things or of an attribute qualifying a substantive, but one of homogeneous identity. What appears to be the individual is in fact a configuration of Brahman-Consciousness itself deflected through the ramifying media of space and time. When such knowledge arises in the individual, it at once ceases to be the individual that it appeared to be and enters into its essential nature, which is universality of being. Here, the indirect knowledge that Brahman exists, becomes a direct experience as ‘I am the Absolute’, even as the space within a jar may realise that it is the same as the all-pervading space. The immediacy of Jiva-consciousness and the remoteness of the concept of Isvara, vanish at once in such a realisation, and experience becomes a total indivisible whole. What direct experience actually means is to be known by us by the substantiveness of such an experience we have every day in the form of ‘I am’ or ‘I exist’.
In the perception of an object, the mind modifies itself into the form of that object, but the modification itself is not self-conscious, or rather, conscious of anything at all. The consciousness of the object arises on account of the modification of the mind being attended by the consciousness of Chidabhasa, or the reflection of the Kutastha-Chaitanya in the Buddhi, or the intellect. But in the case of the knowledge of Brahman by a universalised form of the mental modification known as Brahmakara-Vritti, consciousness need not attend the mental modification, because Brahman is not outside in space, and any movement of consciousness towards it is inapplicable. The modification of the mind into the form of the object is called Vritti-Vyapti, and the illumination of this mental modification by consciousness is called Phala-Vyapti, in the language of the Vedanta. The latter instance is exemplified in the illumination of the mental modifications internally, when a person is aware that he is thinking, wherein the thoughts are the objects, not existing outside but inseparably from themselves, thus not needing the movement of consciousness externally and endowing of mental modifications with a sort of self-luminosity. Thus are distinguished the processes of external perception and internal cognition.
Indirect knowledge received by means of instruction from the preceptor requires to be deepened into experience by reflection and deep meditation. Indirect knowledge influences the conscious level of the student, but it has to percolate into the recesses of his being, which is possible only by the absorption of indirect knowledge into the very being of the spiritual seeker, because, ultimately, knowledge is inseparable from being. Existence is the same as consciousness, and consciousness is existence. A knowledge or consciousness which has its object external to it is indirect and inadequate, though it has its own value in acting as a secondary means for achieving the primary purpose of direct realisation. This realisation is impossible for those whose minds are not calm through the restraint of the senses and freedom from mortal desires. More than anything else, an intense longing for liberation is to be considered as the supreme qualification of a seeker.
Even during meditation one may have to face many difficulties, such as the inability to reconcile apparently contradictory statements occurring in the scriptures, the persistent feeling that the world and the body are real, and, finally a sense of hopelessness and a feeling of impossibility in regard to the achievement of the supreme purpose of life. These three obstacles, known as Samsaya-Bhavana, Viparita-Bhavana, and Asambhavana, are met with and overcome through the processes of Sravana, or listening to the wisdom imparted by the preceptor, Manana, or deep reflection on the truths so received, and Nididhyasana, or profound meditation. The difficulty in understanding the true meaning of the scriptures arises on account of dullness of intellect, doubt regarding the Supreme Reality of Brahman alone, and a feeling of the reality of the world due to impressions of many lives lived wrongly in earlier forms of existence, and a sense of impossibility of achievement due to the heavy operation of clouding (Tamasika), and distracting (Rajasika) Karmas (actions performed with a feeling of the agency of the self) in past lives. Unselfish service (Karma-Yoga), devout worship of God, Isvara (Upasana), and an analytic understanding of the all-comprehensiveness of the Absolute (Jnana) are the ways to Self-realisation. Mala (dirt), Vikshepa (distraction) and Avarana (veiling) are the hindrances to right thinking, which act as impulses arising from the mind contrary to the concentration necessary for fixing oneself in Brahman-Consciousness. The supreme method, of course, is known as Brahma-Abhyasa (practice of the presence of Brahman) which consists in thinking of Brahman alone, talking about That alone, mutually discoursing on That alone, and depending for one’s sole sustenance on That alone in a whole-souled surrender and dedication of one’s being to the Universal Reality. As days pass and one becomes mature in thinking and understanding, too much of study and discussion should be avoided and one must resort to internal analysis and meditation more and more. Herein we are reminded of the great proclamation of the Bhagavadgita that God looks to the welfare and protection of those who undividedly think of Him, feel His Presence everywhere and entirely depend on Him by a surrender of their being to the Supreme Being. Such meditations burn up all the dross of psychological impediments and enable the inner light to shine brighter than ever. Meditation should be conducted with freedom from unnecessary effort and fatigue, for it is the spontaneity of the feeling for God that is to be taken as the final criterion of success in this endeavour. While the sense objects appear outside to the mind, the object enters into the being of the meditator’s consciousness in deep absorption, thereby the distinction between the subject and the object, the knower and the known, becomes narrower as meditation advances, finally to be abolished altogether in a coalescence of the subject with the object, and vice versa. The essential point to be remembered in all meditation is that there should be no thought except that of the chosen object or the ideal of meditation. The hardship involved in the control of the mind is pointed out by ancient masters by such analogies as drinking the ocean, shaking the Meru mountain, swallowing blazing fire, and the like, to illustrate the difficulty in the practice of self-restraint. Those who cannot directly carry on meditation in this way are advised to listen to the glories of God through epics (Itihasas) and legends (Puranas) and even by easier means as dramatic presentations of the majesty of God and His Creation.
Nididhyasana is profound absorption in the thought that the world and the individual are not outside Isvara, that Isvara, the world and the individual are an apparently triple manifestation of Brahman, and that, thus, there is no distinction between the knower and the known, and there is no such thing as an external world or an extra-cosmic creator. For one who is established in such deep meditation, the world and the individuals around are not any more a hindrance in any way. When the mind is affected by distraction in the midst of meditation, repeated efforts should be put forth by drawing the mind away from relationship to externals and concentrating it on the glorious ideal of meditation. Here, study of sacred scriptures and such other occupations by which the mind is made to wean itself away from things, have to be adopted. Even if the consciousness of the supreme object of meditation is sometimes lost and forgotten during the day, there is no harm since it will return later due to the force of the earlier meditation. Momentary forgetfulness is not so dangerous as an erroneous conviction that the world is external and material in nature or that persons and things are really cut off from one another as they are totally independent in themselves. It is advisable to engage oneself during spare hours in the study of such subjects as are conducive to entertaining the thought of the object of meditation. All engagements, religious or secular, in which one will be occupied should be dexterously transformed into processes of a spiritual movement towards the Absolute. It has to be remembered constantly that engagement in any kind of work or occupation is a resultant of actions performed earlier in previous births and is not to be thought as means of enjoyment in this life, and no sense of doership in any matter whatsoever should be attributed to oneself in such occupations, since, otherwise, there is the possibility of accumulating more impressions of action which may lead to further rebirths.
In the illustration of the ten people crossing the river, it is observed that there is grief due to ignorance, and even striking of the head in sorrow by the ignorant ones, and the sorrow ceases the moment knowledge is gained about the existence of the tenth person. But the wound created on the head heals slowly, by about a month or so, and not immediately, though knowledge has come quickly and removed the grief totally. Just as, on account of the knowledge that the tenth person is alive, there is joy, and this joy supersedes and overcomes the pain of wound in the head, so, in the case of the Jivanmukta, the Prarabdha may continue for a time, even after knowledge, but the delight of Self-realisation overcomes the pain of Prarabdha, because it far surpasses all worldly sorrows. Whenever there is a feeling of superimposition of the Self on the body, let there be further discrimination and meditation for the sake of infinite knowledge, just as alchemists drink elixirs repeatedly to strengthen their bodies and avert hunger. As the wound in the head heals by medication, the Prarabdha is made to cease by undergoing its experience.
The six stages viz., Ajnana, Avarana, Vikshepa, Paroksha-jnana, Aparoksha-Jnana and Sokanivritti, have been explained. Now the seventh, Tripti, or supreme spiritual delight is being discussed. All satisfaction derived from sense-objects is restricted (Sankusa), because it is obstructed and conditioned by other desires which are still unfulfilled, but spiritual satisfaction is unbounded, for it comes as the result of realisation of the Bhuma, or the Infinite which is everything. There is the joy that all that is to be done has been done, and all that is to be obtained has been obtained. In the past, due to absence of insight into the truth, there was a lot of hardship and activity with the desire for acquiring material prosperity and worldly happiness, as well as the joy of heavens, etc., in the future; but in the state of realisation there is no such fear or sorrow, no activity of that nature, because everything has been accomplished at one stroke. There is, at that time of sudden flash of divine bliss, an immediate contrast brought about between the present state of freedom and the previous one of desire and activity.
People who are ignorant suffer in Samsara, with desires for temporal ends, but he who has felt that Supreme Divine Bliss has no such troubles, for, what desire can he have? Those who wish to go to other regions, such as heaven, perform sacrifices of various kinds, but he who has all the worlds within himself has no need to exert for such travelling into distant worlds of light. People study and expound scriptures in this world with different motives, but there is no such duty for a spiritually illumined soul. Even such acts as sleep, taking food, bath, conducting ablutions, etc., are not directed by desires in a Jivanmukta, but are foisted on him by the onlookers outside; and naturally what others impute to him cannot affect him. He is inwardly free. Actions attributed to him by others do not touch him, as the redness of a flower has not the burning capacity of fire, though someone may mistake it for ember. Study, reflection and meditation being only means to an end, serve no useful purpose in his case, because he has reached the end of all striving, and has no misconception in regard to the nature of the world and the Atman. It is likely that, occasionally, he may have the feeling that he is a human being, but this is only a passing phase not to be bothered about, since it shall cease of its own accord some day in the future, and there is no serious trouble to be expected from it, since the original state of consciousness shall regain its position, as a line drawn on water. All activities cease when Prarabdha dies, but while it functions, it cannot be overcome even by the force of meditation. No doubt, those who wish to abstain from activities completely may concentrate their minds with the idea of subjugating all distractions caused by perception of objects, but when true knowledge arises in the mind, there will be no desire even to abstain from activity. There is no modification in his mind, as objects do not form any impression on it, for there can be such impression only when there is desire. In its absence, there is no attempt on his part either to control the mind in meditation or to give it a long rope in activity. Since his essential condition is Selfhood, including all the selves in the universe, he is a Seer par excellence, without an object to be seen; hence the realisation of having done everything, and obtained everything.
There are Jivanmuktas who perform certain works as their Prarabdhas permit, and there are others who do so merely out of compassion for others, to set an example to the ignorant, on account of their love for creation. Even this they do spontaneously, without any deliberate will, because their condition is one of absolute freedom, not directed by any restrictive injunctions. They are above mandates, and their works follow the Will of Isvara. Their will is Isvara’s Will, and their being is Brahman.
The perception of the Jivanmukta is wide enough to cover all aspects of mental and physical activity, and so no conflict arises in his mind in regard to the various works that he performs, either voluntarily, or as fulfilment of his Prarabdha. Whether he performs worship, bathes in waters, does Japa of Mantras, studies scriptures, or contemplates on God, it matters little to him, because all these differences are a variety in the real unity. There is a gradual ascent of the mind from the outward to the inward in the spiritual path. The lowest condition of the mind is where it contemplates sense-objects with a desire to possess them or avoid them, as the case may be. This is what we call Samsara, from the bondage to which the Jivanmuktas are ever free. The ascent of the mind in the spiritual path commences the moment there is an awakening of Consciousness to the existence of the higher life, and there is a discrimination between the real and the unreal in life. This leads further to an aspiration for being good and doing good, for ethical and moral perfection and a development of the yearning for the liberation of the soul. The ascent becomes complete when the mind is wholly engaged in studying and contemplation of the higher truths under the directions of a spiritual preceptor and the mind is concentrated on things spiritual. The culmination is reached when the mind is totally withdrawn from sense-objects and there is a complete introversion of the mind in meditation of the Divine Being.
The Jivanmukta-Purusha, the one liberated while living, during this state of spiritual expansion, sees no difference between the different types of activities in the world, because, from his standpoint, all movements are movements within the Absolute. There is no controversy in his mind as to the relative merits of Karma (action) and Jnana (knowledge), because, for him, Karma is only a manifestation of the Jnana aspect, since to his vision, activity loses its usual significance of being directed towards temporal ends. His Karma is all a cosmic movement of Divinity, God working the miracle of creation. The binding Karmas of the ignorant individuals, and even the purificatory Karmas of the aspirants, stand united in his vision, and do not differ from activity as such, because, for him, action is only a form of existence and not a force meant to achieve an ulterior end. Self-realisation is at once God-realisation, and it is a perfection which comprehends within itself everything that is anywhere in creation, whether active or inactive, whether inward or outward. This is why the state of the Jivanmukta is equated with God’s Consciousness and God’s Existence, in a very important sense.
There is no dispute between the Karmin (one who engages himself in action) and the Jnanin (the knower of Truth) from the point of view of the Jivanmukta, because, whether the Karmin does actions thinking that they are ends-in-themselves in the state of ignorance forgetting even the Atman, or whether the J nanin concerns himself with the Atman alone, the root on which these are all finally stabilised is the same. Though Pravritti (extroversion) and Nivritti (introversion) are both meaningless from the point of view of Self-realisation, Nivritti leads to an aspiration for knowledge in the case of those who are still aspirants. The knower, however, has neither to seek knowledge by means of Nivritti, nor has he any concern with Pravritti for its benefits. Knowledge exists not because of the value of any means to it which persons attach to it, but on its own right (Vastu-tantra). It depends on itself and not on anything else. Knowledge of Brahman is Self-existent, because its nature does not depend upon the caprices of the individual attempting to know it (Purusha-tantra). Neither Avidya (ignorance) nor its effects can contradict knowledge, because they are already overcome by knowledge through intense Sadhana (practice) before attaining realisation. While the appearance may still continue, it does not negate knowledge; what binds is not appearance as such, but the notion of reality in appearance. If one knows that appearance is after all appearance alone, it cannot affect him. When appearance is mistaken for reality, it becomes the source of all troubles. This error of perception has already been sublated (negated), and, therefore, it cannot rise again in the case of the Jivanmukta. Objects in the world appear to him as mere corpses without life, because of his knowledge that they entirely depend upon Brahman for their existence. It is but natural that, in the state of ignorance, people engage themselves in activity for the fulfilment of desires of various kinds, because no one exists in this world without some activity or other. Activity is the very condition of individuality and it shall persist as long as there is individuality-consciousness. Hence the vidvan, the knower, while living in the midst of ignorant people does not shake their beliefs by contradicting them in any way, but puts on their own conducts in his actions with a view to conducting them rightly, merely out of compassion. If he is in the midst of aspirants, he tries to instruct them by gradually trying to wean their minds away from attachment and faith in perishable things, by slowly diverting their attention from the false to the true, by stages, and not abruptly. He is like a father to children, full of love and pity, and is not affected whether he is insulted or praised by those who do not understand him. Whatever be the attitude of others towards him, his only attitude towards others is one of love for all and service to all by means of precept as well as practice. He, always, looks to the good of others. Whatever others may think about him, he considers how he should conduct himself for others to be benefited by his presence, and he lives accordingly, not for his own sake, because he wants nothing for himself, but for others’ sake, because it is his nature to love all as his own Self. He has no duty to perform except, perhaps, the one he deliberately takes upon himself, viz., the education of the ignorant towards Self-realisation.
The realised soul is all the while happy, and is highly exhilarated due to the immense realisation that he has, the clarity of perception that he has attained, and the absolute bliss that he is experiencing. He sees with wonder the fancy of Samsara (world-existence) and the play of people around. He is delighted due to the majesty of his experience which is incomparable, and inwardly glorifies the scriptures which had helped him in gaining this knowledge, the Guru who has directed him to this experience, and the knowledge and the bliss which he now realises as his own nature. He has done what is to be done (Kritakritya), obtained what is to be obtained (Praptaprapya) and known what is to be known (Jnatajneya). Thus, does the liberated one rejoice in the indescribable ecstasy and rapture of Universal Experience, when in embrace with the glory of Brahman, the Absolute. (Verses 33-298)
As far as the experience of the fruits of one’s previous actions is concerned, the knower and the non-knower may appear to be alike; only, the former bears it with patience and fortitude till the time of its exhaustion, while the latter worries himself and is excited over his experiences in life. This may be illustrated by the case of two travellers on a journey, equally fatigued, the one knowing that his destination is not far off and thus going on quicker with patience and confidence, and the other who does not know the distance yet to be covered feels discouraged and lingers on longer on the way. The conviction that there is a desirer and there is a desire for objects should be melted down in the greater conviction that Brahman is the all. Thus, the pains caused by unfulfilled desires cease, like the flames of a lamp without oil. When we witness the performance of a magician, we know very well that it is unreal, in spite of our seeing it as if physically real. We rather laugh at the performance and rejoice at the tricks of the performer and do not get emotionally disturbed or intellectually befooled by the performance. Similarly, a knower of Reality does not seek enjoyment even in objects apparently pleasing. He is convinced of their absence in the form in which they appear, their impermanence and unsubstantiality, and gives up attachment to them. Material wealth of any kind is not a source of joy, truly speaking. It is attended with anxiety and worry, in earning it, in maintaining it, in losing it, and even in spending it. One cannot expect peace of mind through possession of wealth. So are the longings for name, fame and power and other joys of an emotional nature and egoistic in their essential make-up. Who will drink poison even if hungry for days together? Much less will be the desire of one who is already satisfied with the best of foods. True seekers of liberation are satisfied even with obtaining the minimum needs of life and do not ask for large possessions, for desire is never extinguished by the fulfilment of it. It is only the unenlightened one that is not satisfied even with endless enjoyments in this world. It is the wisdom of the knower to convert the world into a help in his progress towards salvation, instead of imagining that it is an object of enjoyment, because in this creation everything is connected to everything else and nothing is subsidiary to or dependent upon another except as imagination under states of delusion of mind.
One undergoes suffering by Prarabdha-Karma, which is accumulated either intentionally or unintentionally, or in the interest of other people and other things. Unintentional suffering is caused by operations of Nature, such as heat and cold, hunger and thirst, and the urges of the natural instincts of the human being. The intentional type consists of the sorrows that come upon oneself in the wake of deliberate misdeeds like theft, deceit and wilful injury caused to others, or by neglecting the laws of one’s own physical and mental health. Suffering caused by taking interest in others, whether willing or unwilling to do the thing, is instanced by such events as receiving a sun-stroke while walking in the hot sun to escort a guest to his destination, and such other actions which may bring a painful reaction even if they are performed with good intentions to help others in any way.
The way in which desires attain fulfilment in a knower is a little difficult to understand, since they defy the normal laws of their operation. There is such a thing as unattached enjoyment even of objects indulged in, either for the reduction of the intensity of desire in a harmless manner by giving it its demand in a way not injurious either to oneself or to others, or to exhaust the fruit yielded by the impressions of previous actions. In this case, the enjoyment of the knower is to be attributed not so much to a personal desire as to the impersonal will that operates behind his apparent personality. But these enjoyments cannot bind him, as roasted grains have no potency to shoot up into plants. Likewise, the desires of a knower are no more real desires, as they do not arise from his personality but are volitions directed by a more impersonal purpose and motivation.
The world is to be contemplated upon as a kingdom seen in a dream. It is a reality at the time of its experience but vanishes instantaneously on one’s rising to wakefulness. The waking world of space, time, objects and relations is similarly constituted as a manifestation of the Cosmic Mind, thus having no real objectivity in itself. Profound meditation in this way will lessen the intensity of a longing and attachment in respect of persons and things. It is the function of knowledge to demonstrate the unreality of the world and it is the nature of Prarabdha-Karma to yield experiences of the world. Thus, knowledge and fructifying Karma are not opposed to each other, since they are relevant to different aims. The Prarabdha may continue to operate in spite of the knowledge of the unreality of all things, but such knowledge sets at naught the stinging character of these pleasures and pains. Since Prarabdha-Karma does not create an idea of the reality of things, it is not opposed to true knowledge. Things do not disappear in knowledge but only reveal their true nature. Even in dream, objects which do not really exist cause pleasure and pain to the experiencer. This would suggest that the reality of objects is not necessarily a criterion for experiencing them as such; the only thing needed for experiencing is a placement of the subject and the object of experience on a par, i.e., in the same degree of reality. In the case of the knower, the experience of pleasure and pain is to some extent like the ones experienced by an audience before a dramatic enactment or a magical performance, the absence of reality in which is known to the experiencer even when experiencing them. For the same reason, the waking world does not establish its reality merely by the fact of its being experienced. This analysis of the nature of desire in an ordinary sense and an extraordinary sense would show that the ethical laws of empirical life do not apply to the realm of transcendent experience.
Due to ignorance of one’s relation to the object of experience, one mistakes it for an instrument of enjoyment or satisfaction. By erroneously transferring changeful properties on itself, the Jiva regards its enjoyership as real, and never wants to abandon the objects which it considers as real. We know too well that things are not loved for their sake, but with a motive behind, a purpose to be fulfilled, other than the things concerned, this purpose being inner satisfaction, a pleasure felt within. And that becomes an object of abhorrence, which stands in the way of the achievement of this end, the one motive behind all affection and love being the selfish maintenance of a condition of inner delight. The enjoyer of objects is, therefore, a combination of the Kutastha-consciousness and the so-called Chidabhasa, though this is permissible from our practical standards, and has no meaning in itself.
One should not attach oneself too much to objects, as the main point behind such attachment is not the love of objects, but the releasing of the inner tension caused by desire for them. Let all love be, therefore, centered in the Atman universal, which is the finale and end of all aspirations. Let our affection for the Supreme Being become as firm as that the ignorant persons have towards sense-objects. By this method, the mind can be gradually weaned away from sense-enjoyments, and all love directed to the Absolute within us. As the foolish one is extremely vigilant about obtaining objects of sense, such as gold and sex, a wise man should be vigilant in his engagement in the Atman. As one who wishes to achieve success in this world studies logic, literature, and so on, let the true aspirant engage himself in the study of the Atman within. As one who wants to attain heaven and superhuman powers (Siddhis), etc., practises recitation of Mantras and performs sacrifices, with great faith, let intense faith in the Supreme Reality be developed by one aspiring for liberation. As Yogins practise concentration of mind, undergoing great hardships, for the sake of attaining higher perfections, let the aspirant engage himself in the liberation of his self. As the powers of the practicants increase by protracted efforts, the intensity of the discrimination of the aspirant after freedom increases by continued endeavour. By knowing the true nature of the enjoyer through the process of reasoning, as detailed above, the detached nature of the Atman in all the states is realised. What is visible in the various states of experience is in that particular state alone, and does not follow the perceiving consciousness in the other states. Experiences of different lives, and of different states even in one life, differ from one another, but the Consciousness is everywhere one and immutable. One should meditate, therefore, that one’s Consciousness is the same as Brahman, which is the illuminator of the different states of experience, and by this knowledge one gets liberated. There cannot be rebirth for a person who knows that there is only one Consciousness pervading all things, dissociated from all objective conditions. It should be affirmed always that one is the Witness, different from whatever is regarded as the enjoyer, enjoyment, or the enjoyed, in all the three states of experience. On analysis, it thus becomes clear that what we consider usually as the enjoyer is only the individual self that goes by the name of Chidabhasa, or the Vijnanamaya. Again, it is not real in itself, because it is within the vast world of relativities, which is transcended in Brahman. It has a beginning and an end, and, therefore, it is to be distinguished from the real.
Having attained this knowledge, the Chidabhasa never, again, desires enjoyment, because its spiritual insight is a preparation for its own self-annihilation, just as no one who is about to die wishes to get his marriage performed at that time. The Chidabhasa, then, becomes ashamed even to regard itself as enjoyer, as before, and, as a person whose nose is cut off would be unwilling to come before the public, it undergoes the Prarabdha silently, without complaining of suffering, knowing well that it has only to wait till the exhaustion of the Prarabdha. When it does not attribute enjoyership even to itself in that state of knowledge, where comes the doubt that it will attribute it to the Kutastha-Atman? The scripture, therefore, disregards the erroneous concept that there is any such thing as a real enjoyer, and interrogates as to how there can be association of oneself with the conditions of the body when there is such enlightenment.
The three bodies have three types of transformation, which may be regarded as their conditions, or fevers. The disbalance of the humours, and the various diseases cropping up as a result of this condition, the foul smell, the ugly nature and subjection to burns, wounds etc., are the sufferings or fevers of the physical body. Desire, anger and such other passions, the pleasure of possession and the displeasure caused by non-possession of what is longed for, are the fevers of the subtle body. The ignorance by which one knows not either oneself or others, in which there is a negation of oneself as it were, and which is the seed of future troubles in the form of various experiences, is the fever of the causal body. These are the natural, intrinsic conditions of the three bodies of the Jiva. They, rather, form the bodies themselves, for the latter do not exist independently of these conditions. These are not the outward qualities, or even inherent attributes, but the essential constituents of the bodies. As there is no cloth when its threads are pulled out, no blanket when its hairs are removed, no earthen vessel when the earth is removed from it, so there is no body when it is divested of its various transformations, or fevers. The Chidabhasa by itself is not subject to these sufferings of the bodies, it being essentially of the nature of intelligence or light, but by false association it regards all these conditions as its own. The reality of the witnessing Atman is transferred to the conditions of the body, and they are all regarded as real by this transference of property. Subsequently, they are considered as part of the Chidabhasa itself. When the body suffers, the Chidabhasa feels that it is itself suffering the conditions, as a family man would suffer the situations of the members of his family by attachment to them.
When discrimination dawns, by which the Chidabhasa casts off its delusions, it does not regard even its own personality as anything meaningful, and engages itself in continuous meditation on the Sakshin, or the Witnessing Atman, and does not again subject itself to the various processes of the body. As a person would run away from a piece of rope, mistaking it for a snake, but when he realises that it is only a piece of rope he feels sorry for his act of having run away from it, the Chidabhasa repents for its having attributed the Kutastha-Atman falsely with all the undesirable attributes belonging to the world, and, as if begging pardon from the Kutastha for its past misdeeds, it engages itself in profound meditation on the latter. To expiate the sins of the past in the form of wrong thoughts and wrong deeds, it performs meditation on the Absolute. The Chidabhasa does not again make friendship with the changes of the body, as a holy person would not mix with infidels, having performed penance for all the impurities that he might have come in contact with due to association with them previously. As a prince who is about to be enthroned, learns the art of administration from his father, with a desire to become an able king later, the Chidabhasa voluntarily undergoes inner discipline by spiritual meditation, with the intention of becoming Brahman in the end. He who knows Brahman becomes Brahman, because Brahman is universal, and hence its knowledge is the same as its existence. As persons desiring to attain luminous bodies in heaven offer themselves in certain holy fires, the Chidabhasa wishes to abolish its own individuality and shine as the Atman, by practising meditation on IT. As the body is visible in fire for the time being, before one’s attainment of the celestial regions, the Prarabdha of the Chidabhasa continues for a period, till it is exhausted, though, in the end, the attainment of Brahman is ensured. When a person mistakenly sees a snake in a rope, he fears and trembles, but on realising that it is a rope, his confusion is over, though the trembling continues for a few minutes. Not only that; when he comes back and sees the rope, it will, again, look like a snake, though he has now a clear knowledge about it. Likewise, the Prarabdha of a Jnanin ceases gradually, and not abruptly, but during the time of occasional contact with objects, it is likely that he may feel he is a human being, and may see the world, again, as it was before. By this casual perception of the world, the knowledge of the liberated one, the Jivanmukta, is not affected in any way, because Jivanmukti is not like a ritual that is to be performed with minute details of discipline, but is a natural state of being which is known to be there spontaneously without any particular effort or imposed rule.