by Swami Krishnananda
Sāṅknya kāṇāda bauddhā dyair jagad bhedo yathā yathā, utprekṣyate’nekayuktyā bhavatveṣa tathā tathā (100). By the analysis of the five elements which constitute this cosmos, we have come to the conclusion that there is an element of Existence pervading all things, and this pervasive principle is always associated with every kind of name and form. No name, no form can exist without Existence. This Existence, known as sat, is the nature of Brahman, the Supreme Being.
But there were other schools of thought, like the Nyaya, Vaishesika, Samkhya and the schools of nihilism who describe the nature of the world in different ways. The logical school of Nyaya and the realistic pluralism of the Vaishesika philosophy asserted that there are many realities in the world, and Existence is not one uniform continuity.
Nine realities were posited by the Naiyayikas and the Vaishesikas. Samkhya boiled down all these nine categories of the Nyaya and the Vaishesika into only two principles: purusha and prakriti – consciousness and matter. Though there can be nine objects which may look like reality from the point of view of our sense perception, they are all capable of being grouped into a single category, called ‘object’; and all object is material in its nature. This is the reason why the Samkhya concludes that we can have only two ultimate principles: matter and spirit, prakriti and purusha.
The duality of consciousness and matter is also a questionable proposition because in the same way that the multiplicity of the Nyaya and the Vaishesika does not stand the test of scrutiny (because of there being the necessity for a knowing consciousness behind the multiplicity so posited), so too, it requires some third principle above the duality of purusha and prakriti in order to know that prakriti and purusha exist at all.
Who is it that is making the statement that there are two realities? It is not prakriti, and it is not purusha, because it has been already assumed that prakriti and purusha are two different things. So neither the Nyaya, the Vaishesika, nor the Samkhya stand the scrutiny of deep investigation.
So is the case of the nihilistic doctrine, which asserted that nothing can exist finally, because the consciousness of their being nothing is also a kind of existence. Nobody can outright deny all things, because the denial of such a thing assumes the consciousness of the denial of all things – which must exist. So finally, consciousness exists. Sat is chit. This is Verse 100.
Avajṅātaṁ sadadvaitaṁ niśśaṁkair anya vādibhiḥ, evaṁ kā kṣati rasmākaṁ taddvaitam avajānatām (101). It may be contended that there are people who argue only on the basis of duality because the world is constituted of duality. The knower and the known are two different entities. The world outside and the knowing consciousness are not identical. It is something well known to common sense. “Let it be there,” says the author.
The assertion that there is a palpable, obvious reality between the knowing consciousness and the object outside is again a faulty assumption because there should be an umpire between the knowing consciousness and the object outside – neither belonging to the subjective side, nor the objective side. Therefore, this umpire which will belong neither to the subjective side nor the objective side, will be a third element altogether. The third element includes both the subjective and the objective sides.
So again the non-duality of Reality comes up. Any amount of assertion of the final duality of things does not stand the test of reason because all consciousness of duality requires a previous consciousness, a preceding element of awareness which beholds duality as an object and, therefore, it stands independent of the duality of things, and even behind the consciousness that asserts that there is duality. So we cannot escape the unitariness of consciousness.
Dvaitā vajṅā susthitā ced advaite dhīḥ sthirā bhavet, sthairye tasyāḥ pumāneṣa jīvanmukta itīryate (102). He is the jivanmukta purusha, the liberated soul who beholds through the sense organs the same variety, same duality and multiplicity as the commonsense man sees, but he sees it as bereft of vitality. It is like looking at a corpse, a body with no life in it. The duality will be seen as long as the sense organs operate. The jivanmukta purusha also sees it. He will see the world as a burnt cloth, a dead snake or a devitalised object. They have only appearance, but they do not exist substantially.
The Existence which is the direct content of the jivanmukta's consciousness is Brahmatattva. He practices brahmabhyasa. Tat chintanaṁ tat kathanaṁ anyonyaṁ tat prabodhanam, eta deka paratvaṁ ca brahmābhyāsaṁ vidur budhāḥ. (7.106). Brahmabhyasa is the highest sadhana that one can think of in this world. The practice of the presence of Brahman is called brahmabhyasa. Brother Lawrence wrote a small booklet called ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’, and this amounts to the same thing – the practice of the presence of the Absolute: brahmabhyasa.
It means thinking of that always – tat chintanaṁ – and no other thought enters the mind – tat kathanaṁ. When we speak to people, to our friends in discourse, we talk only on this theme – anyonyaṁ tat prabodhanam. We awaken ourselves mutually on this important theme, and do not talk on anything else. Eta deka paratvaṁ: always depending on this finally, as if a drowning man is depending on a single breath, and he has no other desire. Having had enough of things in this world, to surfeit, there is only one longing left – namely, the unity of the soul with the Universal Soul. This is total dependence on Ultimate Reality.
This kind of practice, continuously carried on day in and day out as the only occupation in life, is brahmabhyasa. Such is the practice of a jivanmukta purusha who sees, as it were, the dualities, multiplicities, etc., of the world as ordinary people do, but he does not believe in their existence.
As I mentioned the other day, varieties of objects made of sugar do not attract the attention of people who are mature in mind. Let it be an elephant, let it be a horse, let it be a dog. What does it matter? It is sugar. But children do not understand that. For them it is a dog, it is an elephant, and so on. So children in this life of spirit behold the variety of names and forms and cling to these forms as children cling to forms of the same substance, not knowing that the whole universe is constituted ultimately of one basic substance, sat-chit-ananda swarupa. Such a person who knows this is called a jivanmukta. Sthairye tasyāḥ pumāneṣa jīvanmukta itīryate.
The Bhagavad Gita, towards the conclusion of the second chapter, says eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ pārtha naināṁ prāpya vimuhyati, sthitvā’syām antakāle’pi brahma nivārṇa mṛcchati (103). Bhagavan Sri Krishna speaks to Arjuna and towards the end of the second chapter of the Gita, having described the essentials of Samkhya and Yoga, concludes his teaching by saying, “Arjuna, this is the ultimate state. Eṣā brāhmī sthitiḥ: This is the final resort of all created things. It is the state of the Absolute. Therefore, it is called brāhmī sthitiḥ.”