Author Topic: Analysis of the word brahma-jij~naasaa  (Read 522 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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Analysis of the word brahma-jij~naasaa
« on: February 27, 2015, 12:49:17 PM »
Analysis of the word brahma-jij~naasaa

      Next word is brahma-jij~naasaa. The word meaning is Brahman inquiry. It should mean 'brahma j~naanaaya vedanta vichaaraH', that is Vedantic inquiry for brahma j~naanam. brahma-jij~naasaa is a compound word with three parts - brahma, jij~naa, saa. The word brahma means brahman which will be defined later as jagat kaaraNam brahma, the cause for the world. Brahman has got different meanings in the shaastra - in Geeta it says - karma brahma udbhavam viddhi brahma-akshara-samudbhavam - there it is translated as the Veda. In taittiriiya Upanishad [Iv:1] it says - 'maha iti tad brahma, sa aatmaa |' - there brahma is translated as OM-kaara. In kaThopanishad [I:ii:25]- yasya brahma cha kshatra.n cha ubhe bavata odanaH| - there the word brahma was translated as braahmaNa. Sometimes brahma is translated as hiranyagarbha also [muNDaka I:1]- sa brahma-vidyaam sarva-vidyaa pratishhThaam - here brahma vidyaa is vidyaa given by hiranyagarbha. When it says [taitt. II:i: 1]'brahmavid aapnoti param' - there brahma means 'satyam, j~naanam, anantam brahma' - who is the jagat kaaraNam. Thus according to context the word brahma is translated to mean different meanings. The definition used here for brahma is explained more elaborately in the second suutra by vyaasaachaarya. Based on that suutra we come to conclusion that in brahma-jij~naasaa, brahman stands for jagat kaaraNam brahma, the one who is the cause for the creation of the universe. The second part of the word is jij~naa - Shankara says it means j~naanam - what kind of j~naanam it is? - it is avagati paryantam j~naanam - avagati means dR^iDha aparoksha j~naanam, firm and direct knowledge of the reality.

      The last part is 'saa' - it is a suffix - san pratyayaH - it literally means ichchhaa or desire (direct meaning). In Sanskrit when we add the 'san' pratyaya, it conveys the meaning of a desire. Thus jij~naasaa - is desire to know - just as mumukshaa, desire for liberation, pipaThishaa, desire to learn, etc. Hence Shankara says desire is the vaachyaartha of the 'san' pratyaya, here we have to take lakshyaartha or implied meaning. The implied meaning is inquiry or vichaaraH. Thus ichchhaa or desire is the vaachyaartha and vichaaraH or inquiry is lakshyaartha. What is the connection between desire and inquiry? Inquiry is always the result of a desire for knowledge.

      That is 'ichchha janya vichaara lakshaNa' - that is the inquiry born out of desire to know. The words brahma jij~naasaa means brahma j~naana ichchhaa - which means 'brahma j~naana vichaaraH'. Hence if we can combine all this, we have brahma jij~naasaa meaning 'dR^iDha aparoksha brahma j~naanaaya vedaanta vichaaraH (kartavyaH) - to gain the direct abiding knowledge of brahman, Vedanta vichaara should be done.

      The question can be raised as to why one should add Vedanta vichaara - Vyasaachaarya suutra imply just vichaara - he did not specify Vedanta vichaara. Why cannot I make 'self-inquiry' without worrying about Vedanta? - How do you do if asked, they respond that the 'self-inquiry' - it is very simple and is a straight path ' All I have to do is to close my eyes and ask myself- who am I? and thus find out who I am. There are some who claim that 'who am I inquiry?' is different from Vedantic inquiry. And people claim that 'who am I inquiry?' can be done sitting in a corner without having a guru or study of Vedanta - it is a straight path or direct path. All I have to do is dwell deep into my heart and ask the question - who am I, who am I... etc., and one day I will realize. Since we don't know who we are other than what we know of ourselves as ' I am sa.nsaarii, I am limited, I am duHkhii, I am ignorant, etc. etc. These are the only answers that will come out in the 'who am I inquiry since we do not know any better of who we are.

      Hence 'self-inquiry' does not mean one self doing the inquiry -it is the inquiry of 'the self with help of Guru and shaastra or Vedanta. Self inquiry does not mean oneself inquiry or independent inquiry - it is shhashhThii tatpurushha - it is the inquiry of the self with the help of guru and shaashtra. Because Vedanta alone is the pramaaNam for brahman. Hence brahma vichaara or aatma vichaara is through Vedanta vichaara.

      Hence the final meaning for 'brahma jij~naasaa' means 'brahma j~naanaaya vedanta vichaaraH' inquiry into Vedanta for gaining brahma j~naanam. Any knowledge can takes place only through the operation of a pramaaNam (means of knowledge), pramaaNa janyaa pramaa. We have already mentioned the six means of knowledge that involves pratyaksha, anumaana, etc. Now vicharaH is not accepted as one of the six pramaaNa-s. Mere inquiry or independent thinking, mere sitting in meditation are not accepted as one of the six pramaaNa-s. If a person goes on inquiring without any of the six means of pramaaNam, it will lead only to a speculative system of philosophy, it can lead to various hypotheses, but can never lead to knowledge. Hence if inquiry should lead to a knowledge, it should involve a pramaaNam, a valid means of knowledge. In the case of brahman, we have got only one relevant and useful pramaaNam, which is shabdta pramaaNam, vedanta shabda pramaaNam.

      Hence without bringing in the upanishad shabda pramaaNam if inquiry is done it will only lead to speculations only. Therefore brahman inquiry involves a shabda pramaaNam, that is Vedanta or upanishad pramaaNam. Vyaasaachaarya does not use the word 'vedanta vichaaraH', we have to supply the word vedanta vichaara kartavyaH|| In fact, Vyasaaachaarya, himself tells in the third suutra that Vedanta alone is the pramaaNam for brahman and also uses Vedanta for the inquiry of brahman. Hence brahma jij~naasaa means brahma j~naanaaya vedanta vichaaraH. This is the final meaning.

      Why are we interested in brahma j~naanam? We are interested in brahma j~naanam since we are interested in moksha or sa.nsaara nivR^ittiH, removal of sa.nsaara. We have analyzed why brahma j~naanam removes sa.nsaara. While inquiring into ataH shabda we have inquired why karma cannot give moksha and why j~naanam alone gives moksha. Since sa.nsaara is adhyastaH or superimposed, it can be removed by j~naanam. Now a question arises. Any superimposition goes by knowledge, like our good old snake. When we say the superimposed snake is removed by knowledge, the question is what knowledge will remove the snake. The snake is not removed by the knowledge of chemistry or knowledge of physics. The snake is removed only by the knowledge of rope which is the adhishhThaanam of the snake. From this we get a rule - adhyaasa is removed only by adhishhThaana j~naanam. Any superimposition is removed by the knowledge of its adhishhTaanam. Applying this logic, we have 'sa.nsaaraH swa adhishhTana j~naana nivartyaH, adhyastatvaat, rujju sarpavat|' sa.nsaara can be removed by the knowledge of its adhishhTaanam, because sa.nsaara is superimposed like our snake. While writing adhyaasa bhaashhyam Shankaraachaarya pointed out that the entire sa.nsaara or jiivatvam is superimposed on the adhishhTaanamm which is aatma.

      Thus in adhyaasabhaashyam we have learned that the adhishhTaanam of sa.nsaara is aatma. The entire jiivatvam is superimposed upon aatma. If we have to remove sa.nsaara, it is removed by the swa adhishhTana j~naanam. This implies that aatmaj~naanam alone will remove sa.nsaara. Hence for the removal of sa.nsaara one needs aatma j~naanam and therefore inquiry should be about aatman.

      Therefore a puurvapakshi argues that we should be conducting aatmaa vichaaraH where as Vyaasaachaarya writes athaato brahmagij~naasa. It should have been 'athaato aatma jij~naasaa' - aatma vichaaraH karthavyaH. From which we gain aatma j~naanam which removes the samaaraH. It is like inquiry into the shell when we have to remove the snake in the rope-snake adhyaasa. Hence why are you introducing brahman inquiry when we want to inquire into the aatma j~naanam? - asks a puurvapakshi.

      One answer is brahman is the same as the aatma. Hence brahman inquiry is aatman inquiry. That is why in taittiriiya Upanishad it says, tat vijij~naasasva in that place brahma vichaara is mentioned. In bR^ihadaaraNyaka - aatmaa vaa are shrotavyo, manthavyo, nidhidhyaaitavyaH, there atmaa vichaara is mentioned. Thus Upanishads loosely use the two words indicating that brahman and aatman are one and the same. Hence the first suutra itself indirectly reveals brahma-aatma aikyam. This is the first answer to show that brahma vichaara is the same as the aatma vichaara since brahman and aatma are one and the same. In addition there is a declaration in the Upanishhad as one of the mahavaakya-s. - ayam atmaa brahma - this aatma is brahman. Thus equating the two.

      The answer can also be presented in a different way also. When we say brahman inquiry, one should not think that Brahman is a new substance to be revealed by the scriptures. This is the biggest mistake a seeker commits.

      When the scriptures introduce Brahman, we think Brahman is some new substance to be known. That is why even after studying scriptures for years and years together we look for Brahman in meditation. Some say I have understood Brahman but I have not come across face-to-face with Brahman in Meditation. We should very clearly understand that inquiry of Brahman does not mean inquiry of something other than oneself as a new substance unfamiliar. Brahman is not a new substance. The word Brahman indicates a new status of mine which is already available called 'aham', I am. This can be stated as 'aham, aham, aham iti, siddha ruupasya aatmanaH brahmatvam eva brahma shabdena uchyate|' Hence when we say brahman knowledge, it is the knowledge of brahmatvam status of mine - my paraprakR^iti - now I am lost in aparaa prakR^iti - It is my own supreme status, currently I am lost in the notion of inferior status due to superimposed limitations that do not belong to me. Therefore 'brahma vichaaraH' should be translated as 'aatmanaH brahmatva vichaaraH'. Brahman inquiry is to be understood as inquiry into the Brahman (limitlessness) status of aatma, one's own self. If Brahman status or brahmatvam is the new status of mine to be discovered, what is the old status of mine? Jiivatvam is my present status. By discovering the brahmatvam status, I discard my jiivatvam status, since that status is not natural to me. This is similar to discarding sarpatvam ( snakeness ) status of the object by learning its the rajjutvam (ropeness) status. Similarly brahman inquiry means inquiry of ones own true nature, aatman inquiry.

      Therefore athaataH brahma jij~naasaa is equal to athaataH aatma jij~naasaa or athaataH aatmanaH brahmatva gij~naasa. This is the meaning of the word 'brahma gij~naasa'. Through this word, Vyaasaacharya indirectly reveals the subject matter of Brahmasuutra, a requirement of the anubandha chautashhTayam. Now connecting all these we have the first word atha indirectly revealed 'adhikaari', who is a qualified student, the word 'ataH' indirectly revealed prayojanam, the word brahma gij~naasa' indirectly revealed vishhayaH. Thus three of the four anubandha chatushhTa are pointed out.