by Swami Krishnananda
Kiyantaṁ kāla miti cet khedo’yaṁ dvaita iṣyatām, advaite tu na yukto’yaṁ sarvā nartha nivāraṇāt (248); kṣut pipāsā dayo dṛṣṭā yathā pūrvaṁ mayīti cet, macchabdā vācye’haṅkāre dṛśyatāṁ neti ko vadet (249). Such afflictions like hunger and thirst will continue as long as there is this body, in spite of the fact that one has acquired a kind of knowledge of the difference between the Atman and the body. The associations are of three kinds, and these associations are known in Sanskrit as adhyasa. The first one is known as bhramaja adhyasa – superimposition caused by sheer ignorance. The second one is sahaja adhyasa – superimposition which is natural to existing conditions. The third is karmaja adhyasa – superimposition that is the outcome of the existence of the body itself.
The first one, known as bhramaja adhyasa – superimposition brought about by sheer ignorance – is the transference of values between the intellect and the Atman, pure and simple. The universality of the Atman, which is eternity in its essential nature, is wrongly transferred to the individual principle known as the intellect, and then there is a false feeling that the individual is longstanding – eternity itself.
We do not feel that we are going to die tomorrow. That feeling never enters our mind because of the transference of the perpetual or eternal character of the Atman to the individuality principle that is our intellect. If this transference of values were not to be there, every moment we would be in fear of death and there would be no incentive to work; even for a moment we would not lift even a finger.
On the other hand, there is the transference of the qualities of the individuality principle (intellect) upon the Atman, pure and simple, on account of which we begin to feel that we are limited in location. We are in one place only; we are not in different places. We are ignorant; we are not omniscient. We are very helpless, not omnipotent, and we are located in one place only. That is finitude.
Finitude in space, finitude in knowledge, and finitude in power – all these three kinds of finitude are imposed upon us by the transference of the individuality character of the intellect onto the Atman. Because of the Atman's character getting reflected or transferred to the individuality principle, we feel that we are going to live for endless years. There is a sense of permanency to our existence on account of this other kind of transference, the transference of the Atman's character upon the intellect. This kind of mutual transference of values from Atman to intellect and intellect to Atman is called bhramaja adhyasa – superimposition of characters caused by sheer ignorance, bereft of proper understanding.
The second one is called sahaja adhyasa, or the natural superimposition taking place between the consciousness reflected through the intellect and the ego principle. When the Atman consciousness gets reflected through the intellect, it assumes the awareness of individuality. We feel “I am” in our personal character, and the consciousness of personality, or I am-ness, is simultaneous with the consciousness of egoism – intense attachment to the personality itself. The consciousness of personality is identical with attachment to personality. This is natural superimposition, or sahaja adhyasa.
Karmaja is the third superimposition, the transference of the characters of finitude upon the physical body, and the transference of characters such hunger-thirst, heat-cold, etc., which are felt by the body, upon the intellect.
Now in the case of the jivanmukta, or the person who has realised the Self, the first adhyasa is checked off. He will not feel that this personality is transferrable to the Atman or the Atman is transferrable to the individuality principle. On account of this severance of the original adhyasa, which is based on ignorance, he will not take rebirth. But he will continue to be in this world with this personal body as long as the other two karmas persist. The reflection of consciousness of the Atman through the intellect will continue in the case of the jivanmukta purusha also – that is, he will know that he is existing as a person. And he will also feel the pinches of hunger and thirst, heat and cold, as long as the prarabdha karma continues – that is, the third kind of adhyasa – karmaja, persists.
This is with reference to this particular verse which says hunger and thirst, etc., will be seen to be present even in the case of those who are enlightened; but this feeling of hunger and thirst, etc., is to be attributed to the ego consciousness rather than to the original Atman itself.
Cidrūpe’pi prasa jyeraṅ tādātmyā dhyāsato yadi, mā’dhyāsaṁ kuru kintu tvaṁ vivekaṁ kuru sarvadā (250). We have to be constantly in a state of meditation to convince ourselves that our experiences, which are either joyful or miserable as the case may be, are attributable to the physical sheaths. Bodily existence actually does not belong to the Atman, pure and simple. All the processes of analysis to which we have been introduced in these chapters, right from the beginning itself, will be helpful in convincing ourselves and establishing ourselves in the consciousness that basically we are unconcerned with the affections which the finite body feels.
Jhaṭitya dhyāsa āyāti dṛḍha vāsana yeti cet, āvartayet vivekaṁ ca dṛḍhaṁ vāsayituṁ sadā (251). In spite of our daily meditation, suddenly the prarabdha will rise up into action and we will begin to feel that we are the body only. Sometimes this also happens in the case of very great people; their prarabdha works, though at other moments they are universally conscious. No one can be universally conscious twenty-four hours of the day, not even the greatest of saints, because their prarabdha gives a pinch now and then to make them feel that there is a body.
There is a story about a king, Sage Vasishtha. He was a great mastermind. The world could not stand before him, such was his power. He had a son called Shakti who was killed by a demon, a Rakshasa. Prarabdha started working in a peculiar way and Vasishtha, the omniscient man, wanted to commit suicide. Immediately he jumped into a flaming fire; the fire became cool, like cold water. He jumped into a river; the river dried up immediately. He hung a rope around his neck; it became a garland of flowers. Brahma immediately came down and said, “You cannot commit suicide, because all the five elements are under your control. That is why the water dried up, fire became cold, and the rope became a flower garland.” He had such a power that all the five elements were under his control and even if he wanted to commit suicide it was not possible to do it – yet the prarabdha worked and he was grief-stricken because his son died.
Shakti was a Brahmana. He was passing through a narrow passage, a little footpath where only one person could walk, and from the front the king of the country was coming. As two persons could not walk on that little precipice, the king thought he must be given way by this Brahmin because he is a king. The Brahmin thought the king must give way because he is a Brahmin. Neither would give way, and the king got angry and whipped this Brahmin – Shakti, the son of Vasishtha. The Brahmin said, “You behave like a Rakshasa. I curse you to become a Rakshasa just now. Immediately the king turned into a demon, and he ate this boy Shakti. That is how Vasishtha’s son died, over which he tried to commit suicide.
After some time, the daughter of Vasishtha was strolling on the rear garden of the cottage, and the same demon started pursuing her. She yelled out. Then Vasishtha came and saw the demon, the very same demon who ate his son. He took a little water from his water pot, sprinkled it and threw it on the face of the demon. That demon immediately returned to his form as the old king. This is the power of Vasishtha. Nothing could stand before him – not all the three worlds. Yet, prarabdha sometimes gives a prick even to such great people, though it does not always work like that. That they sometimes begin to feel hunger, thirst, sleep, fatigue, and so on, is demonstrated in this interesting story.
Viveke dvaita mithyātvaṁ yuktyai veti na bhaṇyatām, acintya racanātvasya anubhūtir hi sva sākṣikī (252). When we habituate ourselves to discrimination, constant brooding over the universality of the Atman, day in and day out thinking only this aspect and thinking nothing else in our mind, for some time it may remain a kind of intellectual activity, a mental operation. It may not actually delve deep into the feeling. The practice should go deeper than intellectual cogitation. Meditation is not merely thinking through the mind. It is a transmutation of the very being itself.
In meditation, the whole personality gets transmuted – the will, the understanding, the feeling. The most important part of the operation is feeling. It is not enough if we think that there is a Universal Being; we must also feel that it is like that. When the understanding or the conviction that “the Universal is existent, and is the only existence” becomes a part of our feeling also, life gets transformed into the very experience of the Universal. A great mystery is the working of prarabdha karma and the effect produced by meditations.
Cidapya cintya racanā yadi tarhyastu no vayam, citiṁ sucintya racanāṁ brūmo nityatva kāraṇāt (253). A wonder is the working of this prarabdha and a wonder is also the working of this Pure Consciousness. How it sometimes manifests itself in great consolation to us, and how it sometimes withdraws itself, is difficult to explain. However, on account of the permanency of the consciousness that is our essential nature, it will overcome the limitations of prarabdha. In the earlier days there will be a tussle for some time between the meditating consciousness and the suffering caused by prarabdha. Sometimes the balance will tilt on one side and other times the balance will tilt on the other. Often we will feel that this meditation is not working well, and we will be very much grieved because of the body consciousness. At other times, the other aspect will come up and we will feel elated, enthused, and we will feel as if God is very near us. This is the power of consciousness. It is also a great mystery.
Prāgabhāvo nānubhūtaḥ citer nityā tataś citiḥ, dvaitasya prāga bhāvastu caitanyenānubhūyate (254). The prior non-existence of consciousness cannot be experienced by us. We cannot feel that once upon a time consciousness was not existing. That feeling cannot arise in us because the consciousness of the ‘imagined non-existence of consciousness’ sometime earlier is also a postulation of the existence of consciousness even prior to that apparent non-existence. We cannot conceive the non-existence of consciousness because that conception is attributable to consciousness itself. It is consciousness itself assuming that it did not exist sometime. Therefore, the prior non-existence of consciousness – sometime in the early days, long, long ago in the past – is inconceivable.
But the non-existence of duality can be conceived. Duality is the manifest form of creation. When creation did not take place, consciousness – which was prior to the awareness of duality – did exist. Yesterday, as we noted, the consciousness of duality implies the consciousness of unity. The awareness that there are two things or many things is impossible unless there is that awareness which is above the duality or the multiplicity of the objects. If everything is different from everything else, nobody would know that such is the state of affairs, because differentiated things cannot know each other. And nobody will know that another person is sitting near if the difference is compete. But actually, there is no such difference finally. It is an apparent duality; and because of its apparent-ness, and not a permanency of its character, there is a consciousness of there being many people, many things, two things, etc. One consciousness can comprehend a hundred things at a time. This shows it is basically transcendent to the otherwise multiple or dual character of the objects. There is a beginning for duality, but there is no beginning for consciousness as such.