by Swami Krishnananda
In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Sage Yajnavalkya refers to the Supreme Bliss as the goal of all beings, the great treasure covetable by everyone, the incomparable abode, as also the eternal goal of all life. All beings live by partaking of a small jot of this Divine Bliss. Even the totality of the happiness of the whole world is a minute drop or aspect of the Bliss of Brahman. Hence, it is possible for an intelligent seeker of Truth to detect the deeper implications even behind the natural pleasures of the world. There is an intrinsic relation between worldly pleasure and divine happiness, the latter being the original and the former its distorted reflection. The Bliss of Brahman is an undivided essence, absolute in nature and without parts in itself, but when it is revealed through the minds of the Jivas, it becomes manifold and is diminished in quality and quantity. Nevertheless, it arises from Brahman, and if only one is to have the intelligence to see clearly through the pleasures of the world, they would not appear as objects of selfish enjoyment, but several ramified forms of the One Supreme Being. But, unfortunately, due to ignorance, the Jivas are not usually endowed with such a discriminative power, and so they connect the pleasures of the world with sense-objects and seek for more and more of such objects of pleasure. This seeking is Samsara (entanglement) and it cannot easily come to an end. When objects are infinite in number and there is no use imagining that one can ever reach an end of one’s satisfaction by sense-contact with these objects, it is essential to thoroughly investigate this fact of happiness as suggested in human experience. This investigation can commence only with the analysis of the nature of one’s own mind, because the mind is the immediate object through which happiness is revealed. The mind is constituted of a threefold character, namely, the Sattvika (transparent), the Rajasika (distracted), and the Tamasika (turbid) modes of its Vrittis, or modifications.
When the Sattvika mode is predominant, there is a feeling of dispassion for objects, and there is a generation within of a series of virtues, such as forbearance, magnanimity, etc. When the Rajasika mode is uppermost, there is affection, grief, attachment, and greed. In the Tamasika mode, there is confusion, delusion, fear, and the like. Though the one Reality is revealed in all the Vrittis, at all times, yet, it is not revealed fully, but only in aspects. In the Tamasika Vrittis, Consciousness, or Intelligence, is not revealed, only the Existence aspect is expressed. In the Rajasika Vrittis, Intelligence also is revealed in addition to Existence. But, only in the Satttvika Vrittis is Bliss revealed, together with Existence and Consciousness. The Divine Bliss, naturally, implies Existence and Consciousness and is, thus, complete. The One has become the many, says the Veda. It is the One Absolute that appears as the many, the Universe. Even as the one Sun may be reflected differently in various pools of water, so does the One Being appear manifoldly through the psychic functions, or internal organs (Antahkarana), of the Jivas. The One Supreme Lord is immanent in all beings. He appears as the one Isvara when his medium of expression is Cosmic Maya, and appears as many when the medium of expression is the psyche of the Jiva. These psychic centers being many in number, there is, naturally, a perception of diversity among the Jivas. As turbid and shaky water cannot allow clear reflection of the Sun above, so do the Tamasika and the Rajasika Vrittis not allow a clear reflection of the Bliss of Brahman, due to the dirt of desire and the agitation of Rajas. The Bliss aspect of Brahman is hidden in the Tamasika and Rajasika Vrittis. In the Rajasika Vrittis, however, due to there being some slight transparency, an aspect of intelligence is revealed. It is only in pure Sattva that Ananda, or Bliss, fully manifests itself. These Sattvika Vrittis are, thus, in the position of gateways to the Bliss of Brahman, and are associated with Brahman (Brahmananda-sahodara).
On account of the impurity of the Rajasika and Tamasika Vrittis, the Bliss aspect is hidden in them, but on account of a slight transparency therein, the Consciousness aspect is revealed to some extent. Just as clean water, when it comes in contact with fire, absorbs only the heat of fire and not its light, so do the Rajasika and Tamasika Vrittis reveal only the Existence and Consciousness aspects of Reality, but not its Bliss aspect. But, in certain other media through which fire can burn, such as firewood, both the heat and the light aspects of fire are revealed. Likewise, in the Sattvika Vrittis, Consciousness and Bliss are revealed together with Existence. The degree of the manifestation of fire depends to a great extent on the medium of its expression. It is so both in the case of ordinary things in the world, like fire, and happiness, etc., within the mind. This analysis is made on the basis of one’s own experience by actual observation of facts, because it is every one’s experience that there are moments of dulness, understanding, and happiness, differently felt within. The determining factors, therefore, are the means of expression. Neither in the Rajasika nor Tamasika Vrittis, can Bliss be revealed at any time, and even in Sattvika Vrittis, there is sometimes an excess of the manifestation of happiness and sometime less. Not only here in this world do we observe such a difference in the happiness of different beings, and even in the happiness of a single person at different times, due to various reasons, but there is difference of happiness in the inhabitants of the other higher regions, such as Gandharva-loka, Svarga-loka, etc., due to the varying degrees of Sattva revealed in the rarefied minds there. When there is desire for house, property etc., there is Rajas manifest therein. It is a distracting Vritti, and there is no happiness therein, because, here, the Vritti is externalised. In such desires there is always anxiety as to whether one’s wishes would be fulfilled or not, and when they are actually not fulfilled, there is unlimited sorrow. When the desires are obstructed, there is anger, and the obstructing factor becomes the object of hatred; and when there is no capacity to wreak revenge against the obstructing power, there is a sinking down of the mind through despondency. This is Tasmasika Vritti working. When such Vrittis, as anger, arise, ones experience great sorrow, both externally and internally. The question of happiness is far from reach in such circumstances. When the object of desire is obtained, however, there is an exhilarating feeling within. This is the Sattvika Vritti operating, and then the happiness is intense. When the object of desire is actually enjoyed, the happiness is more intense than when it is merely possessed. When there is only a likelihood of obtaining one’s wishes, there is a mild expression of happiness. But the highest reaches of happiness are in renunciation, not in desires. This is seen in such exalted beings as the Jivanmuktas, and their condition has been explained elsewhere.
Thus, whenever there is an absence of desire, anger, greed, etc., and there are Vrittis like forbearance, magnanimity, etc., there is happiness on account of the cessation of Rajas and Tamas. Whatever happiness there is in this world is a reflection of Brahman in the introverted Vrittis of the mind. It is only when there is a turning back of the Vrittis to their own Source there is an unobstructed revelation of the nature of Brahman. Brahman, not being an object, cannot be seen through the senses. It is the Supreme Subject and hence it can be known only in inward intuition. Of the three aspects, Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. Existence is revealed in such things as stone, etc; Existence and Consciousness are revealed in Rajas; and Existence, Consciousness and Bliss, all in one, in Sattva. Thus, the nature of Brahman has been explained through the media of the senses.
Brahman as unconnected with the senses has been explained in the eleventh chapter, treating on Yoga, and in the subsequent two chapters dealing with Jnana. The Maya Sakti of Brahman has qualities opposite to those of Brahman. It is Asat (Unreal) , Jada (inert) and Duhkha (pain), as opposed to Sat (reality), Chit (Consciousness), and Ananda (Bliss). The Asat, or non-existence, is seen in such imaginary objects as the horns of a human being, the Jada, or the insentient, in inanimate objects, like wood and stone, Duhkha, or pain or sorrow in Rajasika and Tamasika modes of the mind. This is how Maya has spread itself everywhere in creation, and it is impossible for us to know Brahman in our individualised states except through these modifications of the mind.
Under these circumstances it is essential for a seeker to attempt to meditate on Brahman as Reality, separating it by discrimination from what is nonexistent, insentient, and painful, and this meditation should be carried on in different ways and at different times, as and when one confronts the different items of creation. When one sees a stone, for example, its existence-aspect should be separated from its name and form and, thus, its existence should be meditated upon as an aspect of Brahman. When there are Rajasika and Tamasika Vrittis in the mind, one should try to separate these apparent surface forms of the mind from the Existence and Consciousness revealed there. Similarly, when there is a Sattvika Vritti manifest in the mind, it should be isolated from Sat, Chit and Ananda, revealed therein. Contemplation on the Existence-aspect in inanimate objects is a lower form of meditation. Contemplation on the Existence-and-Consciousness aspects in the Rajasika and Tamasika aspects of the mind is a middling type. Contemplation on Existence-Consciousness-Bliss as the whole of Brahman, in Sattva, is the highest form of meditation.
The process of meditation prescribed here is for those who are incapable of getting rid of the notion that there is a world outside. The objects of the senses, of which the world consists, are intended to be taken as pointers to perfection, as bodies which show the Divine Existence in their appearance. The world presents itself as a reality to the Jiva, and it is necessary to go beyond its ways, by an understanding of its make in all its aspects. The world is taken here as an indication of the existence of the Transcending Being, and, therefore, capable of acting as a teacher to the Jiva-Consciousness. The Jiva proceeds from the lower to the higher, from the gross world, by degrees, to the highest perfection of the Absolute. Apart from the meditation mentioned, namely, the intelligent analysis of the Existence-aspect separated from the name and form of an inanimate object, the Existence-and-Consciousness-aspect from the Rajasika and Tamasika Vrittis of the mind, and the Sat-Chit-Ananda-aspect from the Sattvika Vrittis, there is another mode of meditation on merely the impression left by the previous practice of meditation, as stated before. In this condition of indifference in the mind, the Vrittis get loosened, so that they do not refer to any objects outside. Such an objectless condition is to be regarded as the most conducive state of the mind and this may be considered as a fourth variety of meditation, apart from the three already mentioned. The meditations practised in accordance with the rigid canons of Jnana and Yoga are not mere mental processes, or simple efforts, but are verily divine wisdom itself. They reveal Brahma-Vidya, or Knowledge of the Eternal, due to their being states of highest concentration of the mind in which the Rajas and Tamas are totally obliterated, and there is an exuberance of Sattva, manifesting the wisdom of God. This knowledge gets settled down in a permanent manner when concentration is developed to a maximum degree. It is in this state of Knowledge that the fullness of the perfection of Brahman as a Single, Undivided Essence of Sat-Chit-Ananda reveals itself, without differences of any kind. Hence these attributes do not appear as properties inhering in some other substance, but as identical with Ultimate Substance itself. Sat-Chit-Ananda do not mean ‘qualities’ of Brahman, but ‘Brahman-Itself’. Due to the absence of all limiting adjuncts, such distinctions get abolished in the state of Perfection par excellence. The Vrittis of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas act ordinarily as limiting qualities in the Jiva, but these have been overcome by Jnana and Yoga, and hence they do not any more act as limiting factors in the reality of the Absolute which is free from all empirical or relativistic limitations. Brahman is Self-luminous and Secondless. There is not the three fold difference there, as the seer, seeing and the seen. Hence, it is called the Infinite, or the Bhuma, the Full, which is Bliss. The happiness of the senses in contact with objects should, therefore, be taken as a particular stage in the discovery of the Existence of Brahman. The visible objects of sense act as portals to the Empire of the Almighty Absolute, Brahman (Verses 1-35).