Chapter 7: Triptidipa Prakaranam – Light on Supreme Satisfaction
Ātma vā idam ityādau parokṣam brahma lakṣitam, adhyā ropāpa vādābhyāṁ prajñānaṁ brahma darśitam (68). “The Atman alone was in the beginning,” is the statement made in the Aitareya Upanishad. This statement is paroksa jnana because what is said is that the Atman exists, it has been there forever and ever, and prior to creation, nothing was except the Atman. This kind of knowledge that we have about the Atman in regard to its existence is indirect knowledge. We have only a faith that it exists, but we do not have direct knowledge, experience of it.
After having made this statement, the Aitareya Upanishad goes deeper and deeper. We have to read the Aitareya Upanishad to understand the implication of this statement. By a description of the entire process of the creation of the world, and pointing out how the Universal, or the Virat, enters into every detail of creation as the immanent principle therein, it finally proclaims that Consciousness is Brahman. The pervading Consciousness in everything, in the whole cosmos, is Brahman, the Absolute. This is the final instruction of the Aitareya Upanishad after a long story of the creative process described therein, subsequent to the original statement: “Prior to the creation of the cosmos the Atman alone was, and nothing else was.”
Avāntareṇa vākyena parokṣā brahma dhīr bhavet, sarvatraiva manāvākya vicāra daparokṣa dhīḥ (69). Avantara vakya is the introductory statement, like sarvaṁ khalvidaṁ brahma: All indeed is Brahman. Satyaṁ jñānam anantam brahma: Truth-Knowledge-Infinity is Brahman. Ātmā vā idam eka evāgra āsīt (A.U. 1.1.1): In the beginning, prior to creation, the Atman alone was. These statements are avantara vakyas, definitive statements introducing the mind of the student to the main subject of discussion. Afterwards, through the mahavakyas which we have studied in the Fifth Chapter of the Panchadasi, direct experience is entered into.
Brahmā parokṣya sidhdyarthyaṁ mahā vākya mitī ritam, vākya vṛttā vato brahmā parokṣye vimatir na hi (70). Vakya Vritti is one of the small treatises attributed to the authorship of Sankaracharya. In that work, the author says the mahavakyas of the Upanishads are intended to create in the mind of the student a direct experience of Brahman.
A school of thought in the Vedanta holds that mere repetition of this mantra aham brahmasmi, tat tvam asi will lead to actual realisation, provided the meaning of it as has been explained in the Fifth Chapter is clear to the mind of the student. It should not be a mere parrot-like repetition, but a heartfelt, feelingful concentration.
Ālambanatyā bhāti yo’smat pratyaya śabda yoḥ, antaḥ karaṇa saṁbhinna bodhaḥ sa tvaṁ padābhidhaḥ (71). Tat tvam asi: Thou art That. In this statement of the Chhandogya Upanishad, the word ‘tvam’—or ‘thou’, ‘yourself’—means that individualised consciousness which stands in between, as it were, the consciousness of ‘I’ and ‘mine’, and is defined by the qualities of the internal organ, the antahkarana.
This means to say, the indication of the terms ‘I’ or ‘you’ is that it is a state of consciousness which is defined by the circumference of the mental activity of the person. ‘Thou’, ‘you’, ‘I’ imply an individual. The individuality is nothing but the assumed finitude of consciousness on account of its being limited to the mental functions. The mental functions are limited, they are not all-pervading, and therefore the reflection of the consciousness through the mental functions also appears to be limited to that extent. This limited consciousness operating through the internal organ, or the psyche, is indicated by the terms ‘I’ and ‘you’.
Māyopādhir jagadyonih sarva jñātvādi lakṣaṇaḥ, parokṣya śabalaḥ satyādya ātmakas tat padābhidhaḥ (72). Tat means That. ‘That’ means Ishvara, the God of creation who wields maya as His instrument of action through the sattva guna of maya, the shuddha sattva pradhan of prakriti. By this, Brahman reflected through the pure sattva of prakriti becomes the creation, the sustenance and the dissolution of the universe in Himself. God becomes the creator, destroyer, the preserver, and everything connected with the world by His transcendence on the one hand and His immanence in the world on the other hand. As God is not exhausted in this world, He is transcendent. But as He is present in every atom of creation, He is also immanent. He is omniscient: sarva jñātvādi lakṣaṇaḥ. Sarva jñātvādi means omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. God is all-pervading, so we call Him omnipresent. He is all-knowing, so we call Him omniscient. He is all-powerful, so we call Him omnipotent.
To the jiva, Ishvara appears as a remote object, impossible of accession—impossible even to conceive in the mind. The remoteness of Ishvara is the result that follows from the consciousness in the jiva operating through its own finitude. Because of the location of the individual in that structure of finitude, consciousness operating through that finitude makes it a single entity located somewhere, and Ishvara is made to appear as a universal, remote existence beyond space and time. So the Ishvara of this character as described here is the indicative meaning of the word ‘tat’ in that statement tat tvam asi, Thou art That.
Pratyak parokṣatai kasya sadvitīyata pūrṇatā, virudhyete yatas tasmā llakṣaṇā saṁpra vartate (73). The identity of Ishvara and jiva is difficult to explain because of their dissimilar characters. Remote is Ishvara; immediately experienceable is jiva. There is a second to the individual finitude; there is no second to Ishvara. These are the dissimilarities observable in Ishvara and jiva. How could one be the same as the other? The identity of these two can be explained only by analogies, illustrations.
One of the illustrations is called bhaga-tyaga-lakshana. The definition of an object is metaphorically possible in three ways. “There is a village on the Ganges.” Sometimes we make statements of this kind. We know that a village cannot be on the Ganges, because the Ganges is water. What we actually mean is that the village is on the bank of the Ganges. We reject some word and add another word in coming to a correct apprehension of the meaning of that statement. This way of understanding the meaning of a sentence where we reject something and add something else is called jahat-lakshana. In Sanskrit, the word ‘jahat’ means ‘abandoning something’. The word ‘Ganges’ has to be abandoned because the village cannot be on the Ganges. It has to be implied that the village is on the bank, jahat.
There is another way of speaking where we do not abandon some word, but simply add something non-existent, such as when we say “umbrellas are going”. When we say “umbrellas are going”, we actually mean that people holding umbrellas are going. But we make statements such as “the caps are going”, “the umbrellas are going”, “the red is running”. It means the red horse is running. We add one word which was absent. This is ajahat, which means non-abandoning but actually taking in some other word. These are the two ways of describing two different types of expression—jahat-lakshana and ajahat-lakshana.
The third way is jahat-ajahat-lakshana, where we abandon something and, at the same time, take something else—as is the well-known example of someone being the same person who was seen a long time ago in some other place and is now seen here at this place, with such a difference of space and time. We abandon the limiting characters of space and time, and then we say this is that person.
This cannot be that. The demonstrative pronouns ‘this’ and ‘that’ mean different things. ‘That’ is a remote thing and ‘this’ is an immediate thing. How could this be that? It is like saying A is B. A can be B, provided the limiting characters of the two terms are lifted and their essentiality is taken. This is done in the case of the understanding of the true meaning of the great mahavakya statement tat tvam asi: Thou art that.
The remoteness of Ishvara is caused by our assumption that Ishvara is involved in space and time. The fact is that Ishvara is not involved in space and time because space creates distance and time creates the idea of duration. Ishvara controls space and time, and because of the same operation, the jiva also looks finite.
The all-pervadingness of Ishvara is due to the spatial character of Ishvara, and the omniscience of Ishvara is due to His non-temporality, eternity. But the opposite is the case with the jiva, or the individual. The individual has no such powers. It is located only in one place in space, and it can exist only for some time and not for all times. The rejection of the spatio-temporal limitations and the taking in of only the essential consciousness is called bhaga-tyaga-lakshana or jahat-ajahat-lakshana, dividing and abandoning, abandoning and taking in. We abandon spatio-temporal distinctions and take in only Pure Consciousness. Then, in the light of Pure Consciousness, which is the substance of both Ishvara and jiva, we find that they are non-separate.
Tattva masyādi vākyeṣu lakṣaṇā bhāga lakṣaṇā, so’ya mityādi vākyastha padayoriva nāparā (74). So this Devadatta is the very same Devadatta that I saw in some other place, which illustration we have explained earlier when we studied the First Chapter. We need not go into it once again.
Saṁsargo vā viśiṣṭo vā vākyārtho nātra sammataḥ, akhaṇḍaika rasatvena vākyārtho viduṣāṁ mataḥ (75). The relationship between Ishvara and jiva is neither contact nor quality. Neither Ishvara nor jiva can be regarded as objects capable of coming in contact with something else. They are unique substances by themselves. In their essentiality, the identity of Ishvara and jiva as consciousness cannot be regarded as a contact. It does not mean that the consciousness in the individual contacts the consciousness in Ishvara. There is no such thing. It is a merger of the similar substance which is the substratum of both jiva and Ishvara. Therefore, contact is not the way in which to describe the union of Ishvara and jiva, jiva with Ishvara.
Also, jiva is not a quality or attribute of Ishvara. They are identical. Samsarga and vishesha mentioned here in this verse imply contact and quality. There are certain schools of thought which hold that this world is a quality of God’s existence, as the body of the human individual is something like a quality or attribute of the soul inside. Just as the body is not identical with the soul, the world is not identical with God. This kind of concept is called qualified monism, wherein what is held is that there is an identity of Ishvara and the whole world of individuals, but with the distinction that they are not identical.
As the body is not separable from the soul, yet it is not the soul, this kind of attributive unity of the two is called Vishishtadvaita. In the case of the identity of the substance of the two, consciousness merging in consciousness, this attribute and contact aspect should be completely abandoned because consciousness cannot be a quality of another consciousness, nor can consciousness contact another consciousness, inasmuch as consciousness has no second.
Akhaṇḍaika rasatvena vākyārtho viduṣāṁ mataḥ. It is like a river entering the ocean or one arm of the ocean touching another arm of the ocean. Here ‘contact’ is not the right word; nor can we say they are qualities. It is one thing becoming one thing. That is all we can say when we use the word akhandaika-rasa, undivided essence of consciousness.
Pratyag bodho ya ābhāti so’dvayā nanda lakṣaṇaḥ, advayā nanda rūpaśca pratyag bodhaika lakṣaṇaḥ (76). The internalised consciousness of ours, the innermost Atman of ours, we may say, is actually non-separate from anything. Our own Atman, our own consciousness, is also indivisible in its nature. Consciousness cannot be divided into parts. There cannot be a fraction of consciousness because we know very well the simple argument that the assumption that there can be a part in consciousness is unfounded on account of the fact that the partite quality of consciousness also has to be known by consciousness only. Therefore, it is non-partite. Such non-partite consciousness, which is the nature of the Atman in the jiva, is identical with the blissful state of Ishvara, who is also eternal Atman basically, inseparable from the Atman of the jivas, as one part of the ocean cannot be different from another part of the ocean.
Ittha manyonya tādāmya prati pattir yadā bhavet, abrahmatvaṁ tvamarthasya vyāvartena tadaiva hi (77). Tadarthasya ca pārokṣyaṁ yadyevaṁ kiṁ tataḥ śṛṇu, pūrṇānan daika rūpeṇa pratyag bodho’vatiṣthate (78). In this way, by an analysis of the characteristics of both jiva and Ishvara by the abandoning of the limiting characteristics of both, we come to the conclusion of the identity of the macrocosmic substance with the microcosmic substance. That which is inside the atom is also in the whole cosmos. This realisation will accrue after we come to a conclusion of the identity of everything with everything else through this definition, or lakshana, known as bhaga-tyaga-lakshana—the rejection of the redundant characters superimposed on the essence and the taking in of the pure substance only, which is Pure Consciousness.
Evaṁ sati mahā vākyāt parokṣa jñāna mīryate, yaisteṣāṁ śāstra siddhānta vijñānaṁ śobhate tarām (79). Having come to this conclusion of the non-separate character of consciousness in the jiva, or the individual, it is futile for anyone to argue again and again that consciousness is not immediately experienced. It is not true that consciousness is an object of indirect knowledge because every day we experience this as a direct immediacy when we feel a self-identity with our own selves.
If consciousness is a non-mediate something, we would feel that we are not self-identical individuals. Instead of feeling that I am here, I might feel that I am somewhere else. If consciousness is something that is remote from my own self—it is not immediately experienced but is mediately communicable, as any object in the world is—then the non-immediate character of consciousness will immediately make us feel that we are not in ourselves, that we are somewhere else. We will begin to see ourselves somewhere else, as if there is an illusion. Since this does not happen, it is very clear that consciousness is immediate and everybody is experiencing it in one’s own consciousness. When we know that we are self-identical, it is clear that consciousness cannot be outside us. It is not mediate, but immediate.
Āstāṁ śāstrasya siddhānto yuktyā vākyāt parokṣa dhīḥ, svargādi vākya vannaivaṁ daśame vyabhi cārataḥ (80). When we say “God exists” or “Brahman is”, it is not like making statements such as “heaven is there”. Heaven is a place which is to be reached by effort. We have to reach heaven because of the distance between our present location and the location of heaven, which is not in this physical world. God’s existence is not like the existence of heaven. Inasmuch as God is all-pervading, the question of reaching God does not arise.
Nobody reaches God. One can reach Delhi or some other place because of the spatial distance between two locations, but we cannot reach God. What do we do then when we speak of God? It is a kind of attainment, a kind of at-one-ment, we may say. Here, in the absence of distance between God and His creation, nothing in creation has to traverse a long distance in order to attain God. God-experience is an inner illumination, something like waking into the consciousness of the world after having risen from dream.
In one way, there is a long distance indeed between the dream world and the waking world. When we are in the dream world, we cannot be conscious that there is such a thing called waking. We do not even imagine that waking is possible, such is the distance that we seem to be feeling between the dream world and the waking world.
Such is the distance between man and God also. As there is really no distance between the dream world and the waking world, there is no measuring rod to find out the distance between waking consciousness and dream consciousness. It is a vertical illumination of the same consciousness, an expansion of the dimension of the same consciousness. There is no distance between dream and waking. Therefore, one in dream does not reach waking. It is immediately awakening, as we call it.
Similarly, God-realisation is an awakening from within. It is not a travelling by distance, and it does not require a vehicle to reach God, though sometimes God appears to be very far away. As I mentioned, waking consciousness may look very far away from dream. Not only does it look far, it may even look as not existing at all. We sometimes feel that God does not exist at all, as the dreamer does not have any consciousness of the waking condition. Such is the difference and such is the similarity between God consciousness and ordinary human consciousness.
Svato’parokṣa jīvasya brahmatva mabhi vāñ chataḥ, naśyet siddhā parokṣa tvam iti yuktir mahatyaho (81). That the consciousness that is in us is an immediate fact of experience is something that has to be reiterated again and again. On account of our identity with this physical body extensively, we do not find time to appreciate the fact that our consciousness, which is what is called the nature of the Atman in us, cannot be something other than our own selves. Do not say ‘my Atman’ or ‘my Self’. The Self is not your object of possession. You do not possess the Self; you are the Self. Therefore ‘my Self’ is not a proper description of the Self that you yourself are.
The Selfhood is the description of your very existence. Your existence is the existence of the Self. It is not ‘your’. Do not use the possessive case here. “My Atman is inside.” Such statements are untenable and redundant because it is not your Atman that is inside. It is you yourself which are there as neither inside nor outside. You are neither inside yourself nor outside yourself. You are just what you are. This is perhaps what is the meaning of that great dictum, “I am what I am.” I am not inside myself; I am not outside myself.
Thus, the Atman in you, the Self in you, is not inside you. It is you. If this fact cannot be appreciated even after so much of discussion and eliminative analogies, metaphors, etc., it is really a wonder and a discredit to the intelligence of human beings. The non-mediacy and the direct immediacy of your own Self as Consciousness is proof of its being the Absolute Self. The Absoluteness of the Self that you yourself are is also at once the proof of the existence of God, Who is Absolute.