Author Topic: What is Nidhidhyaasana? Part 1 of 2...by Acharya Sadanandaji  (Read 1622 times)

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What is Nidhidhyaasana? Part 1 of 2...by Acharya Sadanandaji
« on: October 07, 2009, 08:57:36 AM »
What is Nidhidhyaasana?

By Acharya Sadanandaji


Notes on BSB I-i-4-1L

sadaashiva samaarambhaa.n sha~Nkaraachaarya madhyamam.h |
asmadaachaarya paryantaa.n vande guruparamparaam.h ||

I prostrate to the lineage of teachers starting from Lord Shiva who
is ever auspicious and with Bhagavaan Shankara in the middle and all
the way up to my own teacher.

vaatsalya ruupa.n triguNairatiitaM
aananda saandram amalairnidhaanam.h .|
shrii chinmayaananda guro praNiitaM
sadaa bhaje.aha.n tava paada pa~Nkajam.h ||

Who is the very embodiment of motherly affection who is beyond the
three guNa-s, who is full with bliss, and who is the very source of
purity who is the best among the teachers, Shree Chinmayaananda, to
his lotus feet I (sada) always prostrate.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
samanvaya adhyaaya - I
spashhTa brahma li~Nga vaakya samanvaya paada- i
samanvaya adhikaraNam.h .-4
suutra: tat tu samanvayaat.h .-1L


We are discussing vR^ittikaara-s argument that the upanishads say that after gaining Brahma-j~naanam, one must do nididhyaasanam. This implies that upanishads prescribe upasanaa after gaining Brahma-j~naanam. Since it says nididyaasitavyam implying that it is vidhi or one must do, it is clear that upaasanaa shruti declares that
Brahma-j~naanam is not sufficient and one must do upaasanaa to attain moksha.

Shankara says -what vR^ittikara says is right- that nididhyaasanam is important. But what it implies is that shravanam, mananam and nididhyaasanam- all are meant for j~naanam only. They are not practised after j~naanam, they are practised for j~naanam. How can
one prove that all these three are meant for j~naanam only? (This
answer is from sub-commentators) Shravanam is the main saadhana, which gives j~naanam - it is called angi saadhana or mukhyasaadhana. Shravanam reveals my true nature 'tat tvam asi'. Hence the emphasis on the Vedantic or scriptural study as the most important saadhana - Systematic, consistent listening to the scriptures. But even though j~naanam takes place through shravanam, there are obstacles, pratibandhaa-s, obstructing j~naanam from giving moksha. There are two obstacles - one is doubt with regard to the goal - whether aham brahmaasmi is a fact - this doubt can arise from my own intellect or can come from other systems of philosophy. For example, vishishhTaadvaitam says 'you can never be Brahman'. It is sacrilege and it is impossible - all you can be at the most is become a part of Brahman. It is sheshha-sheshhii bhaava. There is an organic relation between the jiiva and Brahman. Jiiva is only of the size of anu or atom or finite and is part of Brahman and cannot be Brahman who is infinite or ananta. In Advaita jiivanmukta is possible; in VishishhTaadvaita jiivanmukta is not possible, only vidheha mukti. Now both Advaita and VishishhTaadvaita are put forth by great aachaarya-s - How can I decide who is right? Acceptance of one philosophy is automatically is a rejection of the other. Similarly several daarshanika-s have proposed philosophies that contradict one another. In the adhyaatma vidya, my intellect cannot be diplomatic and accept all. It has to accept one and accepting one involves rejecting the rest. Thus intellect will have to be sure about the nature of oneself and the nature of Brahman. As long as there is a lingering doubt, it does not come under 'dR^iDha j~naanam' or firm understanding - it comes under sa pratibandhaka j~naanam - incomplete understanding. Thus samshhayaH or lingering doubt is the first obstacle.

The second obstacle is the habitual notion that aatma is something else other than I. We hear an advaitic vedanta student complaining -
I know I am Brahman, but I have problem with my wife or job, my son, my neighbor or my employer etc. Such a self-contradiction is the result of incomplete understanding due to habitual notion of taking aatma as an entity other than oneself - this is called vipariita
bhaavana. (The purpose of serious study of brahmasuutra and other
scriptures as well as participating in Vedantic discussions should become very clear now - it is to establish a firm logical foundation for an understanding of the nature of the problem and the nature of the solution. By discussing puurvapakshaa-s and siddhanta-s the
intellect is provided a field of inquiry to investigate and understand clearly the fundamental problem of adhyaasa and firm understanding that takes one beyond ones habitual notions). Because of this vipariita bhaavana, we have only sa pratibandhaka j~naanam - Hence mananam and nididhyaasanam removes the obstacles - mananam removes doubt - whether I am Brahman or not - this should become clear - with conviction one must accept one philosophy rejecting all other systems of philosophies and any other interpretation of Vedanta. It is not a fanatical approach to Vedanta, due to some reverence to a tradition or to an aachaarya or to an upbringing, but conviction based on clear understanding of the nature of the problem and solution to the problem. I have to think, weigh and analyze the philosophies presented - all the darshhana-s that have been put forth as well as any other interpretations and in the final analysis come to firm conclusion in my mind of what is right and what is wrong and, thus I should be completely doubt free in my own mind.

This doubt-free knowledge involve four things: 1. One should know what is right as right and 2. Should also know what is wrong as wrong, 3. Why the right is right i.e. logically able to establish in my own mind that, that right is right or that right cannot be wrong and 4. Why wrong is wrong - what is wrong with the wrong or why it cannot be right. In fact the second chapter of Brahmasuutra discusses exclusively what is wrong with the wrong. Respecting a person is one thing but accepting the philosophy that he preaches is another. Hence one can have respect for Shankara or Ramanuja or Maadhva, Kapila or Jaimini etc- but one should have firm conviction what is the right philosophy and why is it the right philosophy and what are the wrong philosophies and why are they wrong philosophies. Respecting is the sign of a cultured person, but accepting all philosophies is the sign of a confused person. If one is not fanatical but convinced in one philosophy one should able to communicate his knowledge without disrespecting the others.

Hence mananam removes samshaya pratibandha. Nidhidhyaasanam is meant for removing the second obstacles - vipariita bhaavana - looking upon aatma or Brahman as something other than oneself- it is this that makes one to ask or state - I have studied all scriptures and understand Advaita Vedanta, now what should I do? Enough of intellectual analysis - it is useless - I want to withdraw myself or want to devote myself (to non-intellectual?) to something more useful. When Vedanta says it is swataH siddham - ever existing eternally present - how does doing something or not-doing something help or obstruct? But the very question and the statement implies the vipariita bhaavana or habitual obstacles due to taking anaatma as aatma and aatma as anaatma - that is looking aatma as some third person. The solution is to start looking aatma as the first person that is I am that aatma and I am not this anaatma. - I should not wait for moksha or liberation - since moksha is here and right now.

I heard people saying Advaita is very difficult to understand and
follow and in the kaliyuga it is simpler and easier to get liberated
by kiirtana or through bhakti, etc. The fact is there is nothing to
practise in Advaita - it is some thing to be - as one's own self or
owning one's own self. Nididhyaasana involves firm establishment in the correct understanding that there is nothing to do or achieve, and one is already liberated - I am sidhha suddha mukta swaruupaH. This is called changing the thought pattern or reorientating the ways of one's thinking. A complete over-haul of one's mind. Nididhyaasanam does not give j~naanam, it does not give moksha - it removes the obstacles for j~naanam - It converts sa pratibandhaka j~naanam to apratibandhaka j~naanam. Thus all the three- shravanam, mananam and nidhidhyaasanam- are meant for dR^iDa j~naanaartham eva - for firm abiding knowledge only. This can be illustrated by a simple example. We know as soon as we turn on the switch, the electric bulb glows and instantly the light of the bulb eliminates the darkness. Suppose when the switch is turned on and the darkness still remained. Upon inquiring we find there is nothing wrong with the switch nor with the bulb nor with the line in between and we also know that current is flowing and the bulb is also burning. Further investigation revealed that the darkness is still there because the light from the burning bulb is obstructed by two thick dark opaque sheets of clothes. Hence even though the electric current has done its job and bulb is also in working condition, yet the darkness remained only because of the obstruction of the light coming from the bulb. All one has to do is to remove the obstructing material and that very instant the darkness will be removed by the light from the bulb. Now, the question is what removed the darkness - is it light from the bulb or the action of removing the covering sheets. Action of the removing the covering sheets is required in this particular case but what actually contributes to the removal of darkness is the turning of the switch that resulted in passing the current to the bulb, which caused to emanate the light. It is the light that is opposite to darkness. Everything else is required but they are not the primary cause for the removal of darkness. In the same way the Nididhyaasana is like removing obstacles that obstruct the removal of darkness of ignorance by the light of knowledge which is already glowing in the bulb of intellect. Hence mananam and nididhyaasanam removes the two obstacles for knowledge, the samshhayaH and vipariita bhaavana, but j~naanam alone removes the ignorance and leads to moksha.

Hence the arguments of Shankara can be briefly

a) Nididhyaasanam is not after j~naanam but for j~naanam only. It is not a upaasanaa after j~naanam as vR^ittikaara argues but it is part of the process for j~naanam. Hence there is big difference between the role of nididhyaasanam in the vR^ittikaara outlook versus an advaitin outlook. b) The second difference is for vR^iittikaara nididhyaasanam is a karma that comes after j~naanam whereas for Vedantin nididhyaasana is not a karma after j~naanam, but a process of j~naanam. c) In the vR^ittikaara mata nidhidhyaasana as upaasanaa produces a puNya phalam where as in Vedanta, it is not karma producing a positive result as adR^ishhTa phalam but for Vedantin it only removes our habitual dehaatma-buddhi which is the dR^ishhTa phalam. d) In upaasanaa one expects moksha to happen in future, an event in future, a result after an action. In Vedanta nidhidhyaasana is not with an expectation of moksha, but it is knocking of an expectation of moksha - I am free here and now and not an event in future will be the affirmative knowledge. Thus even though both Vedantin and vR^ittikaara translates nidhidhyaasana as meditation - the connotation and its implication are different. Hence from Vedantin's perspective all the three, shravanam, mananam and nididhyaasanam put to together as one gives the knowledge. Of these shravanam has the positive role of producing knowledge and mananam and nididhyaasanam have the negative roles of removing doubt and habits, respectively. Thus all the three play different roles but the ultimate result is j~naanam and after j~naanam there is nothing else to be done.

Next comes the last puurvapaksha. Up to this point Shankara has established using various arguments that there is no karma involved in Vedanta. While negating karma he negated upaasanaa also since it is only a karma but at mental level. Now vR^ittikaara puts forth his last straw. If Vedantin says there is no moksha by karma and upasanaa since they are activities, then j~naana also cannot give moksha since it is also a kind of action involving mental activity or maanasika vR^itti. If upaasanaa involving meditation is considered as a mental activity then j~naanam should also be considered as a mental activity, since both involve manasika vR^itti. Hence if upaasanaa is negated as not a means for moksha, then j~naanam also gets negated since it is also equally a karma involving mental activity. The argument can be stated as - j~naanam karmaruupam, maanasa vR^itti ruupatvaat, upaasanavat. j~naanam is also a type of karma, since it involves a mental activity, just like upaasanaa. This is the vR^ittikaara's argument.

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K. Sadananda

« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 12:26:16 PM by Dr. Sadananda »