Author Topic: Introduction to mahaavaakya - key to self-realization Acharya Sadanandaji  (Read 1753 times)


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By Acharya Sadanandaji

Jnaana yoga and Self-realization-III

We discussed how or when to proceed from karma yoga to jnaana yoga. It is important to realize there are tripuTi-s involved in both karma and jnaana in terms of their origin or utpatti. Karma involves actor, acting and object of action - when we say Rama killed RavaNa, we have the subject Rama who is the actor and object of action is Ravana, it was his karma to get killed by Rama, and the action of killing. Rama is not Ravana, and Rama and RavaNa are not the action of killing. By mutual exclusion each limits the other and each is separate from the other. Thus dvaita (or plurality) form the basis for karma.  In the jnaana utpatti also we have tripuTi or three factors - knower, known and knowing. The jnaana prakriya, in terms of praamaata (knower), prameya (known) and pramaaNa (means of knowing), is extensively discussed in the Vedanta paribhASha or in the knowledge series. All are in the realm of dvaita, since by mutual exclusion as knower is different from known and the knowing. There is of course fundamental difference between karma and jnaana as elucidated by Sureswara in his Naiskarma Siddhi. Karma is not only originated in dvaita but it subsists IN dvaita or BY dvaita, since any result of karma, which need not be immediate, depends on dvaita only. For example, a ritual performed to go to heaven, will materialize only after one departs from this loka.  For some punya and papa, or merits and demerits to fructify, it may take different lokas or many lives. In contrast, jnaana is like a light. As soon as it arises or as it is arising it removes the ignorance, just as the when the light is lighted even though the lighting involves process or tripuTi's and the auxiliary karanaas (as in lighting the candle with a match stick, etc), the result is immediate - the result being the removal of darkness. Karma is purusha tantra, that is, it depends on the performer while jnaana is vastu tantra, it depends on the object. When I hear a lecture, what I listen and understand does not depend on me but on the speaker, but when I decide to take notes, the extent of notes I take depends on me, the kartaa.

The example of lighting of a candle illustrates some important aspects of jnaana. Once I understand by shravanam the nature of the reality that I am sat chit ananda, the ignorance that I am jiiva with identification with body mind and intellect goes instantaneously. To illustrate this point, an example of 10th man story is given. When the teacher points out that you are the missing the tenth man that you are searching for all along, the knowledge is not paroksha or indirect but aparoksha or immediate and direct, since you are that, and not you are going to become that, after some time or after you have taken sanyaasa or after you have become parivraajaka, etc. The leader who was searching for the 10th man is jiivan muktaH, immediately. Ignorance and knowledge cannot co-exist.

Once knowledge takes place by shravana, statements that one has to fulfill other requirements for knowledge are against the very nature of jnaana itself.  It is like saying I have lighted the candle but since darkness has been there for ages it will take some time for the light to remove the darkness.

What is needed for the jnaana prakriya to take place is that the mind has to be prepared. The reason is obvious - you are all the time that, even if you do not know. When you do not know you are that, even though you are that, the very teaching that points to the fact should immediately reveal the true identity one self - unless I have doubts about the teaching itself or due to firmly rooted preconceived notions that I cannot accept the teaching even when Vedanta teaches you are that.  It is like a prince, who was abducted when he was a child and grew-up like a beggar on the street, does not easily believe that he is the missing prince. One can become a king but not a prince. For one to be a prince, one has to be born to a king. Scripture addresses us, not as other religions do - you sinners -  but as - Ye the sons of Immortality! "ShRinvantu vesve amRitasya putraaH!" ; In spite of that we pray "mRityormaa amRitam gamaya" please led us from mortality to immortality, while the scripture is screaming that we are the very sons of immortality.

Although this example of  missing 10th story is quite well known, the operation of the tat tvam asi as mahaavaakya has to be clearly understood. This is the teaching of the scriptures via the teacher to the seeker. For the communication to be successful certain qualifications are necessary. If I enter a Physics class and the teacher is teaching  E = mc2, even though I know what are E, m and c letters, I would not understand the significance of that teaching. Hence, we have gradations  in the mental maturity of the students - broadly as uttama (the highest), madhyama (middle) and adhama (the lowest) adhikaaries or qualified students. Since the teaching is by communication, let us look at a simple statement by a teacher, "maanasa sarovar is ten miles long". This is a statement that involves subject, maanasa sarovar and predicate that describes the qualification of the subject. Of the two, subject and predicate, the sentence makes sense to me only if I know the subject, and does not know the predicate. The sentence will provide me a new knowledge about the subject that I know. If I do not know what maanasa sarovar is, the information provided makes no sense to me; it would be as good as knowing that some gaagaabuubu is ten miles long. Thus if I do not know both the subject and the predicate, the teaching is useless. If I already know both the subject and the predicate, the teaching is redundant. The teaching is most effective only if I know the subject of the statement, maanasa sarovar and do not know the predicate pertaining to it.

Now let us look at "you are the 10th man" story. The leader is looking for the 10th man everywhere, and the leader also knows he himself exists and he is not missing.  However, he thinks that the 10th man is missing. He has negated the first 9 people as neti neti, that is, he is not the 10th man, he is not the 10th man, etc., and still searching for the 10th man. When the teacher says 10th man exists (asti) and tat tvam asi, "you are the 10th man". That is, the leader knows the tvam padaartha thoroughly when the teacher points out that "YOU". Hence the subject is very much known that he exists and is not missing. The object that one is searching is the missing 10th man. Hence the statement by the teacher "YOU, are the 10th man" makes immediate sense to the leader, who knows himself as existent entity and now knows that he himself was the missing 10th man. He experiences the 10th man immediately and directly, aparokshaanubhuuti. Actually, it is not experience-experiencer and experience tripuTi, but clear understanding that the object that he is looking for is the very subject himself.

Let us apply now to the mahaavaakya "tat tvam asi". This teaching with the identity relation becomes effective when two things are thoroughly known. The first thing is "tvam padaartha" and the next thing "tat padaartha". In Gita it was said that the first six chapters predominately deal with tvam padaartha and next six chapters deal with tat padaartha and the remaining six chapters deal with the identity relation, which requires operation of bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNam. We normally understand as 'you' or tvam is different from the tvam that is being pointed by Vedanta.

In principle, one can arrive at the nature of oneself "tvam padaartha" either by the study of the scriptures or even by meditation on the subject - I, the subject, must be different from the object - this. That is, one can use anvaya vyatireka logic or dRik-dRisya viveka or avasthaatraya ot pancakosha vilaskhaNa analysis or all of the above, to understand that I am not this - I am pure existence consciousness that I am.  Essentially I am saakshii, the witnessing consciousness that is different from the witnessed objects that include all the objects in the world, including panca koshas. Clear understanding of who that I am is, constitutes the understanding of tvam padaartham. Clear understanding involves no more confusion of mixing the subject I with the object this, as I am this. That is, the ahankaara gets dissolved in the understanding that I am the witnessing consciousness. That is what is involved in the 'who am I' inquiry.

Up to this point, I can understand who am I, by the enquiry of the subject I, as different from the object, this. To accomplish this, I can use the scriptural teachings, or even sharp intellectual discrimination of subject from object. Meditation can take me up to this point and even to nirvikalpaka samaadhi, where I am with myself without any objectification, since all objects are silenced by sublimating them. That constitutes only the understanding that I am pure witnessing consciousness - the subject in the identity relation. In the maanasa sarovar example, knowing who am I, in the tat tvam asi - is like knowing only the subject part that is being referenced in the statement "maanasa sarovar is 10 miles long". That knowledge is necessary before understanding the predicate in the sentence "maanasa sarovar is 10 miles long".  Now let us look at the rest of the sentence which is predicated for the maanasa sarovar. It says, "it is 10 miles long". The statement now concerns the maanasa sarovar that I know, and what I do not know is that it is 10 miles long. Even though I know now what Maanasa sarovar is, the statement still would not make any sense to me, if I do not know the meanings of the words used - ten miles long. In relation to tat tvam asi, essentially I should know what is tat padartha in order understand the relation between tvam and tat. In Gita, starting from seventh chapter to all the way to 12 th chapter, the glory of Iswara is described in detail. In 7th Ch. Krishna says -  bhuumiraapo nalo vayuH .. describing that all the panca bhuutas, from which the whole gross and subtle universe is build, is My lower nature - beyond that and yet which supports all these is my higher prakRiti. I pervade this entire universe in unmanifested form, all beings are in me - they arise in me, sustained by me and go back into me; nay I am not in them in the sense that their modifications do not affect me: Look at my Vibhuuti or glory, Arjuna,  I am the Virat swaruupa that pervade the entire universe, and yet I am beyond the time and space - thus the magnificent description of tat padaartham goes on. This knowledge of tat padaartha can only be obtained via scripture and not by my meditation of who am I. It is only in Vedanta that spells out I am not only an intelligent cause but material and instrumental cause as well. Hence scripture says- yatova imaaani bhuutani jaayante, yena jaatani jiivanti, yat prayantyabhisam vishanti  - from which the whole world arose, by which it is sustained and into which it goes back - I am that gati, bhartha, prabhu  and saakshii, the goal, the protector, the Lord and witness of this phenomenal world of plurality - the cause for projection and the cause for annihilation too, prabhavaH palayaH sthaanam, sources for everything, biijam and but yet I am immutable, avyayam.  For a student who has clear understanding of both tvam and tat, the mahaavaakya instruction reveals the knowledge of the identity when he has full faith in the teachers words. The uttam adhikarari is therefore is one who has clear understanding of both terms tat and tvam and will be able gain the knowledge by listening to the teacher when the teacher says - tat tvam asi.  Once I know what is maanasa sarovar and what is the meaning of the terms ten miles long, the statement that "maanasa sarovar is ten miles long" makes immediate sense.  The statement "maanasa sarovar is ten miles long" is a statement of fact and is accepted as valid knowledge. This is knowledge of revelation involving the nature of maanasa sarovar, provided I have a faith in the source of revelation; it is not an instruction for any action - to do, not to do, or to do something else.  If that information is helpful, then it will be, other wise it is not. In the case of tat tvam asi, it is also knowledge of a fact and the information is helpful as in the case of 10th man story, since all search for what I am longing for ends with that knowledge. In this case it is the very fulfillment of life itself.

If my knowledge is not clear regarding either or both, tvam and tat, then the identity relation is not obvious for the student to accept. Since it is Vedic statement, it is a statement of fact, the fact becomes factual only when understood correctly what the terms and the identity relation mean. Normally, major problem comes from not understanding the significance of the term "tvam". We all know who we are since everybody talks about themselves endlessly, if there are listeners, or at least to themselves in their minds, yet scripture say you are not what you think you are - you are the very subject who has the capacity to think, but not the contents of what you think. You are the witnessing consciousness who is nether waker, nor dreamer nor sleeper, yet in your presence, the waking, dream and deep-sleep states emerge, sustain and dissolve. However, we operate though out our lives, we are as wakers, dreamers and deep-sleepers - while Vedanta says, the truth is you are neither of the three. We say we are kartaa, bhoktaa, jnaataa, etc, doer, enjoyer, knower, etc. while Vedanta says you are saakshii chaitanya which is akartaa, abhoktaa and ajnaata - witnessing consciousness that is non-doer, non-enjoyer and non-knower. All transactions are done at one level and Saakshii is the witnessing consciousness of all the transactions. This lack of shift in understanding of the real nature of tvam forms the major hurdle in the spiritual path - hence the emphasis by Bhagavan Ramana to inquire who you are first before you inquire about the world and the Iswara. Then he says later that ". soham ityasou bhaavanaabhidaa paavanii mata"| saH aham iti - I am He or He is I, that unifying or non-differential understanding of tat and tvam is the most sacred. That saH aham iti bhaavana is the same statement as tat tvam asi declarative statement that comes from mahaavaakya of Vedanta, where all the terms involved have to be clear to understand the identity relation. Isha jiivayoH veshadhii bhidaa, satva bhaavato vastu kevalam - the Iswara He, and jiiva, aham, the difference between the two is only in the costumes each one is warring, but in their essence they are identical. The identity relation is the essence of all maha vaakyaas.

Hence if the Vedanta has not done its job, it is not the problem of Vedanta nor it is the problem of the teacher, but the problem lies in not clearly understanding the terms tat and tvam and the problem in acceptance of the identity relation between the two. There is no self-realization unless this identity relation is understood as a fact. For that only Vedanta is pramaaNa - hence the statement of Shankara that was quoted before "na yogena na saankhyena karmaNaa no na vidyayaa, brahmaatmaiktva bhodena mokshaH sidhyati na anyathaa!" only by the understanding the identity relation between self and Brahman, one can gain the supreme "brahma vit aapnoti param", knower of Brahman attains the supreme where knowing Brahman involves the knowledge that I am that Brahman.

Hence depending on my mental preparedness or purity, the teaching can sink in immediately after I am convinced of the validity of the knowledge. The primary obstacle or the pratibandhaka is that the mind is not ready to see the fact as fact. For that only shravaNa and mananam is emphasized. We will address some more obstacles or pratibhandhakas that arise inhibiting the awakening of the knowledge.

Hari Om!

« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 08:32:57 AM by Dr. Sadananda »


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Re: Jnaana yoga and Acharya Sadanandaji
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2009, 02:13:30 PM »
Thank You for these discourses.

A thousand praNAms to you Guruji

You have given me the courage to realize and acknowledge a fundamental truth - Who / what am I ? 

 Krshna  is the Guru from within ,  has been the dearest  and most patient Friend, Witness, Companion and Guide -  just as He has promised in the Gita (param-gati, sharan, SAkhsi, SakhA....)

But this jiva was not ready to understand Him fully when He kept telling her  "You and I are not different."  "We are one".
She thought He was being philosophical, metaphorical, poetic....and simply saying this out of love.

How can that be ?  He is the Lord.

But then...  the Lord is all there is. He alone IS. Malleable that He is, He takes forms.

The quest for Advaita began with  "How can a pure soul have individuality ?"

It  was SadGuru who gave the definition for what exactly  is 'individual soul' and 'jiva'.   They say Krshna sends Guru.
Then,  SadGuru takes the jiva to the philosophical mirror (thru' this forum) and says "look carefully".
By looking into that mirror , which was not new, nor the image therein,   the jiva suddenly had the understanding , mind and courage to accept that the One in the mirror .... I   AM THAT !
 and not this jiva , not this mind-intellect-ahankar.    This is Guru krpa  - external  , as well as Krshna's  mercy - internal.   

Familiarity with "Tat" , the subject,  was not enough. The Guru adds the predicate "tvam asi"
and "tvam"  gathers courage , shifts gears.   
The jiva gradually becomes the 3rd person , eventually fading into the background  and  that  Sakshi  becomes the first person.

Either I am That   ( I AM),
Brahman or the Lord is all there IS (and i the jiva don't exist).   

The fear of losing Krshna is unfounded and baseless - as He is the only Truth, and its about losing the ego , not Krshna....  but while the mind is still around , it had better dwell in Krshna than in matter.

Not much has changed though. The jiva has a long way to go before she finally disappears. This is only the first preliminary baby step taken with the Guru's help.

Thank You Sadanandji.

Hari Om.