by Swami Krishnananda
Consciousness is the subject of analysis. This consciousness is further being studied now in the coming verses.
Sa bodho viṣayād bhinno na bodhāt svapna bodha vat, evaṁ sthāna traye’pyekā saṁvid tatvad dinān tare (6). Māsābda yuga kalpeṣu gatā gamye ṣvane kadhā, nodeti nāsta metyakā saṁvi deṣā svayaṁ prabhā (7). This consciousness is Self-conscious, svayam prabha. Objects in the world require consciousness in order that they may be known, but consciousness does not require another consciousness that it may be known. That is the meaning of ‘Self-consciousness’. Objects cannot know themselves. They are known by another – the subject – which is endowed with consciousness; but the subject, which is consciousness, does not require another subject to know itself. That is the meaning of Self-consciousness.
Consciousness is not different from consciousness. While objects require a consciousness to know them, consciousness does not require another consciousness to know it, because consciousness is never an object. It ever remains a subject, pure and simple.
If we say that consciousness requires another consciousness behind it – because it is possible to extend this logic beyond the effects to the causes, and behind that cause to another cause – the problem will arise, namely, that ‘that’ which knows consciousness also should be consciousness as there cannot be two consciousnesses, because we have already seen that consciousness cannot be divided into two parts. It cannot be split or fragmented, because the imagined fragmentation of consciousness is also to be known by consciousness only. The limitation of consciousness is known by consciousness; therefore, consciousness is not limited. That is to say, it is unlimited.
So, it is svayam prabha. It is Self-knowledge. Consciousness is not different from other consciousness, while consciousness is different from the objects. Bodho viṣayād bhinno na bodhāt svapna bodha vat: As it is in the case of dream, we have noted that consciousness itself appears as an object outside, and it is not different from itself. It is to be considered as a continuous link obtaining not only between the diversity of objects on one hand, but also between the variety of three states of waking, dreaming, and sleep.
Evaṁ sthāna traye’pyekā saṁvid tatvad. Sthana traye means three states – waking, dreaming and sleep. Objectively, it is the cohering principle of the unity that is behind all diversity of perception; subjectively, it is a link bringing together, in a state of single apprehension, the three states of waking, dreaming and sleeping. Not only that – day in and day out, this consciousness persists, dinan tare. So many days we have lived in this world; from childhood to this time, we remember all the days through which we have passed. Don't we think there is one consciousness that is linking us into a single personality? I lived fifty years back, forty years back, thirty years back, twenty years back. I was a child and I am an elderly man, and so on. Who is saying this? Who is feeling this? Who is conscious of this? This is one single consciousness maintaining itself as a self-identity throughout the days and the months and the years that we have passed.
Māsābda yuga kalpeṣu: Not merely through days and months and years is it continuing as a single link; it has been maintaining its continuity through ages and ages, through cycles of creation, through the Krita, Treta, Dvapara, Kali Ages. Through all creation, right from beginning, this one consciousness has been maintaining itself as a self-identical unitariness that we are. Here is a glorious message for all of us. We are not the little crawling insects that we appear to be on the surface of the earth. We are mighty in our inner essence. The potential of unlimitedness is singing its own celestial music within us, and wanting to reveal itself just now. But it is not allowed to reveal itself or manifest itself on account of a peculiar juxtaposition that has taken place between consciousness and matter – which is to say, the attachment to this body, and attachment to the ways of prejudiced thinking in terms of space, time and externality.
What do we think day in and day out? Space, time, objects. There is no fourth thing that we can think of. And all this conditioning arises on account of this body through which we start thinking. So the body-consciousness reads through the affirmation of space-time consciousness and object-consciousness. How would we have knowledge of the eternity that we are, the infinity that our consciousness is?
Nevertheless, it is worth knowing that this consciousness that we really are is a continuous link that is maintaining itself as Self-consciousness through days and months and years and cycles of creation. From eternity to eternity, it is existing. We are deathless eternities, in essence. The coming and going, the fluxation of the universe, the varieties of creation in cycles do not affect this consciousness because it is consciousness that knows that there is fluxation and a coming and going of things.
How many times has God created the world? The scriptures say many, many cycles have come and gone. But who is saying this? Consciousness. Eternity is consciousness.
Gatā gamye ṣvane kadhā, nodeti nāsta metyakā: Neither does consciousness arise at any time, because it has no beginning, nor does consciousness end at any time. It has no death. Beginningless and endless, immortal is this consciousness which we, ourselves, essentially are.
Saṁvi deṣā svayaṁ prabhā: This svayam prabha, Self-consciousness, is self proof. It does not require any other proof. We may require a proof to establish other things, but we do not require a proof to establish consciousness, because it is the presupposition of all other proofs. All proofs proceed from consciousness. It is self-proved, indubitable.
Iya mātmā parā nandaḥ para premās padaṁ yataḥ, mā na bhūvaṁ hi bhūyā sam iti premāt manī kṣyate (8). Consciousness is Self-proof. It is Self-conscious. It is Self-conscious and also self-love. Consciousness has two peculiar aspects – intense affirmation of itself, and intense love of itself. It cannot love anything else. Immense love is the nature of the self. It is the source of the love of all other things in the world. Nobody loves anything in the world for its own sake. All love is for one's own self. If we will carefully analyse our love, we will realise that we have loves for things because we love ourselves. And when everything goes, we would like to protect ourselves. When all things go – land, property, money, relations, all are destroyed – we would like to remain at least as beggars. We would not like to die. Love of self is supreme love, and all other loves are conditioned by this self-love.
Therefore, being the source of para premas padam, supreme love being the essence of the Self, it is supreme bliss itself in its nature. Consciousness cannot be limited, as it has been shown. Because it is not limited, it is ultimately free. It is limitation that puts a bar on our expression of freedom. When consciousness which we really are has no bar or limitation of any kind, it is absolutely free. And bliss and happiness mean the same as freedom. The more we are free, the more we are also happy. Inasmuch as the Self is totally free, it is total bliss; because it is eternally free, it is eternal bliss.
Iya mātmā parā nandaḥ: This Self is supreme bliss. Para premās padaṁ yataḥ. It is also the source of the bliss that we apparently see in outer objects. What does one feel always? Mā na bhūvaṁ hi bhūyā sam: “Let me not, not be. Let me be. Let me not annihilate myself, and let not conditions arise to annihilate me. May I live always, and may I not, not live.” This is the feeling, the longing, the main desire of the Self. It is asserting its eternity. The eternity aspect of the Self always affirms itself in the desire never not to be, and the desire always to be. Iti premāt manī kṣyate: This kind of love is always seen in the Self. When all things go, when the world itself goes, it would be good if we are alive – so the Self thinks. It is on the one hand Self-luminous, Self-conscious, Self-affirmative, and also Self-bliss. Eternal unending bliss – that is the Self.
Tat premāt mārtham anyatra naiva manyārtha mātmanah, atasat paramaṁ tena paramā nandata’tmanaḥ (9). Tat premāt mārtham: All love is for its own sake. Anyatra naiva manyārthani: Self-love is not for the sake of another. Self-love is for its own sake. Therefore, we have to consider the Atman as the supreme bliss. And so we conclude that the Atman is basically bliss in its nature. Existence, Consciousness, Bliss are supposed to be the nature of the Atman or the Self. In certain things existence is manifest – for instance, stones and inanimate matter manifest existence. They do exist. Stones also exist, but they do not manifest intelligence. They do not manifest self-consciousness.
In human beings, existence is manifest; intelligence is also manifest. But bliss is not always manifest. The tamas aspect of stone, etc. prevents all other manifestations except existence. The rajasic aspect of man prevents the manifestation of bliss but allows the manifestation of existence and consciousness.
So we do exist and we are aware also that we are existing, and we are aware that many things exist, but we are not always happy. We do not feel free in this world. We are bound by several limitations. On account of the distractions caused by the manifestation of rajas, we have distracted logical knowledge, sensory knowledge, objective knowledge, academic knowledge, and so on, but no knowledge which can be really called bliss in its nature. Learned people are not always happy people. They have neither happiness nor power in their hands.
Hence, all learning which is of an intellectual nature, because it is rajasic in nature, cannot manifest bliss. Bliss is revealed only in sattva, not in tamas and not in rajas. We have existence and consciousness on account of the tamasic and the rajasic qualities of prakriti manifesting themselves in us. We are rarely sattvic in our nature because we are always objectively conscious and rarely subjectively conscious. You can yourself consider for a few minutes how many times you think of yourself in a day. You always think of trains, buses, cars, bicycles, tickets, going here and there, office work, going to factories, and the many the engagements you have got. You have got. But what are you?
We have no time to think of ourselves. In a way, man has sold himself to objects. The subject has become the objects. We are objects much more than subjects. This is the predicament we have landed ourselves in. Would we like to be objects? It is the worst condition in which we can land ourselves. The intense consciousness of the external world and the continuous engagement in external affairs of the world is an indication that sattva is not always manifest in us. There is no equilibration in thinking. There is externalisation in thinking. Therefore, sattva is not manifest. Therefore, we are not happy. This is the corollary that is drawn from this nature of the Self being intensely bliss, and yet our being deprived of it.
It is a great wonder. Our nature is essentially eternal bliss, yet we are never happy even one day. We have always something to disturb our minds. This has to be analysed carefully: What is it that makes us so unhappy? How is it that we always feel like becoming something other than ourselves, and would not like to be our own selves?