Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Various paths

Ramana Maharshi has, in this small work of his, propounded the various paths to the ultimate reality of non-dual Self.

What is the ultimate reality???
There is only one reality here. That reality is Self of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. There is no separate reality other than this. One may call this by different names of Bhagavan, Ishwara, God, Brahman, Atman etc. but all these mean the one same Consciousness alone.

This Consciousness is one without a second, there is only Consciousness present here. It is Consciousness which is seen or perceived as the world of dualities. The world is nothing but Consciousness with a name and form. Leave out Consciousness, the world ceases to exist. But if Consciousness is there, the world is there – even when the world is not present, Consciousness is present. It is the only reality. As various ornaments of gold-ring, gold chain and gold necklace are nothing but GOLD alone (the names and forms are mere illusions in the reality of Gold in this example), similarly the world is nothing but Consciousness alone (with a name and form which are mere illusions in the ultimate reality of Consciousness).

This Consciousness is not something different to be attained or achieved either here or here after (in the other worlds). But it is one’s own nature. Everyone is Consciousness alone. A person is already Consciousness alone. Some people who are aware of this are called realized people and those who are unaware of it think that they are the body and the mind.

It is ignorance of the real nature of Consciousness which causes one to forget the reality that I am Consciousness and due to this ignorance, superimposition of the body and the mind on “I” occurs. This causes one to tell that I am the body and the mind. This superimposition or identification causes all the problems and sufferings in the world. As the ignorance of the rope causes snake to be superimposed on the rope which in turn causes fear of the snake, similarly ignorance of one’s own real nature of Consciousness causes one to forget his own real nature and superimpose the body and the mind over Consciousness which in turn causes sorrows and sufferings.

Thus, it is very clear on how to realize the Self or remove sorrow and suffering. There is one and only way to realize the Self – the way to realize one’s own real nature through knowledge about the Self (one’s own real nature).

The various paths lead only to this final step of knowing that I am the Self because that alone is realization or liberation or mukthi or moksha or freedom.

Now with the above concepts in mind, let us try to analyze the various paths that lead to the end of non-dual Knowledge.

Karma Yoga – Path of Action – Action has its cause in desire and desire arises out of ignorance of one’s own real nature. Therefore action has its cause in ignorance. Since ignorance is the obstacle for realization, action cannot give realization. But the reality is to be apprehended through a pure intellect or mind alone – as the face is seen only in a pure mirror. Therefore purity of mind is a pre requisite to realization of one’s own real nature. Action done without any expectation and as an offering to the Lord purifies the mind. A purify mind is eligible to know its own real nature of Self – hence it again leads to realization or liberation.

As Maharshi says in sloka 3
Ishwara arpitam na icchayaa kritam
Chitta shodhakam mukti saadhakam

Work done as an offering to the Lord and without any expectation purifies the mind & thereby leads to realization.

Krishna himself says in Gita Chapter 9
Yat karoshi yad ashnaasi yad juhosi dadaasi yat
Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tad kurushva mad arpanam

Whatever you do, whatever you offer as oblation, whatever you eat, whatever you give as charity, whatever austerity you do – offer it unto me.

Shubha ashubha phalairevam mokshyase karma bandhanaihi
Sanyaasa yoga yuktaatma vimuktho maam upaishyasi

Thus, he becomes free from good and bad fruits – and thereby out of the bondage of action, such a person thus becomes a renunciated and concentrated person & thereby that person gets liberated and realizes the Self.

This is the path of action wherein an individual performs action but remains unattached to it. This is the ultimate reality also – the Self is not at all doing any action & unaffected by fruits – it is only the Ego or identified “I” which becomes the doer or enjoyer. Thus, when a person does all actions and remains unaffected by it, he becomes neither the doer nor the enjoyer – this is the nature of the Self – thus he unknowingly he identifies himself with the Self (which is his real nature).

Thus, to sum up – karma yoga is doing action without expectations and as an offering to the Lord.

Bhakthi Yoga – the path of devotion.

Bhakthi yoga or the path of devotion is that in which the individual becomes a devotee of the Lord. He forgets everything and remembers just the Lord. Not a single moment passes by without remembering the Lord.

Narada says about Bhakthi in Narada Bhakthi Sutras
Naradah tu tad arpita akhila aachaaratha tad vismarane parama vyaakulathe.

Narada defines Bhakthi as – offering everything unto the Lord and forgetting whom the devotee becomes completely uneasy or desperate.

Bhakthi is not just going to temples or remembering God for just twice a day. Devotion is rememberance of God at all points of time, considering God as the ultimate goal and trying to proceed towards that goal.

There are two types of Bhakthi – lower devotion or Apara Bhakthi, higher devotion or Para Bhakthi. In lower devotion, the devotee feels the difference between himself and the Lord whereas in higher devotion the difference vanishes & only the Lord alone exists. Thus, Maharshi also said the same thing that instead of concentrating or having devotion that God is different from me, I am that God is better. As Krishna has said in Gita that God resides in the heart of all beings. God is the very nature of all human beings. When that God who is present in the heart is prayed upon, then the devotee knows nothing but the Lord alone. Thus everything becomes the Lord alone. Thus, slowly the difference of devotee and Lord vanishes & Lord alone remains behind of the nature of Self or Consciousness.

This path is most liked by people because it doesn’t require any knowledge or intellectual work. But this is a wrong notion – even the person who is following this path will have to reach that step where he will have to know that the God whom I am praying is in my heart & he is my very nature only. Thus, devotion is only the means to the ultimate step of non-dual knowledge.

Raja Yoga – path of control of mind.

In this path the seeker gains control of the mind through control of the breath. The breath and the mind are interrelated – when the breath is controlled, the mind becomes controlled.

But here also the mind only becomes dormant at times of Samadhi – whereas after some time it creeps up again. Thus the only way to remove the mind is to destroy it through the thought of One Self. Only when the mind is destroyed, the Self or its Source is realized. This is what the path of Raja Yoga does. Even in this path, after control of mind, the mind has to be destroyed through contemplation on the ultimate reality of I am the Self or ONE ULTIMATE REALITY alone.

Jnaana Yoga – path of knowledge.

In this path, the seeker studies the ultimate reality put forth in the scriptures. He realizes that the world is an illusion in the ultimate reality of Self or Consciousness. The world is nothing but Consciousness alone with names and forms. The names and forms are mere illusions in Consciousness. The example for this is the dream world where the dreamer sees a world and the objects which are nothing but the dreamer alone.

In this path the seeker asserts that I am Brahman or Consciousness through removal of all not-Self things and finally ends up with the Self or Consciousness. The mind and the Ego – the two main manifestations are the causes of all problems. When the source of the mind and the Ego are searched for – they vanish and the Self alone remains. This is the path of Enquiry into one’s own real nature. This alone is the final step to realization – this alone can confer eternal bliss to the individual who seems to be an individual but is the total universe also. The universe is thus only Consciousness and an illusion in the individual. This reality alone can lead one to cessation of sorrow and eternal bliss.

Thus when the Self which is beyond knowledge and ignorance is KNOWN as one’s own real nature, all sorrow and sufferings vanish as the Self alone exists of the nature of Bliss. The various objects of the world as well as the sorrow and sufferings are only illusions seen in the reality of Self. These are only mere dream objects – this waking state is a long dream which is seen by the Self which is a mere witness to all the activities. The Self seems to get affected by the dream world but it is not at all affected – it remains like the Sun to all world activities (the Sun is not at all affected by the activities in Earth, similarly the Self is not at all affected by the activities on Earth). This is the ultimate reality behind the temporary happenings in the world.

Maharshi thus in this small work of Upadesa Saram has propounded beautifully all of the above four paths and asserted that all these different paths lead to the non-dual knowledge, the non-dual reality that I am the Self – one without a second.

God, Self, Brahman, Paramaatman – all these only different names for the ONE reality.

Srimad Bhagavatham says
Vadanthi tat tattvavidhah tattvam yad jnaanam advayam
Brahma ithi Paramaatma ithi bhagavaan ithi shabdhyathe

Those who know the Reality tell that the Reality is non-dual Knowledge (Consciousness or Self). This is variously called by people as Brahman, Paramaatman, Bhagavan (God).

Thus, the reality is ONE alone. But it is denoted in various terms as water is denoted by Jala, Payah, Vellam, Thanni, Paani etc by different people. Knowing this reality which is one’s own real nature is the aim of life, it is the highest goal to be realized. This alone can confer one eternal bliss inherent in the Self.

Let Maharshi’s grace fall on each one of us so that we may realize our own real nature, the God in us, the Prana which is the manifestation or Atman or God – and thereby rejoice in the eternal bliss inherent in the Self.
Let AMMA’s grace fall on each one of us so that we may relish in the eternal bliss inherent in the Self.
Let us all try to implement whatever Ramana Maharshi has explained in this work of his so that it leads us to the real and natural state of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.

Yad ajnaana sambhootam indrajaalam idam jagat
Satyam jnaanam sukha anantham tad aham brahma nirbhayam
-- Govindananda in his Bhashya Ratna Prabha sub-commentary on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashyam (commentary).

That whose ignorance causes the world like a magic show, that Brahman or the nature of Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Infinite and Fearless I am.

Kaayena Vaacha Manasaindriyair va budhyaatmana va prakrithe svabhavaat
Karomi yad yad sakalam parasmai naaraayanaayethi samarpayaami

Whatever I do through action, words or thoughts with the Ego or the Intellect & out of impulse – I offer all those to Narayana (the Supreme Lord who resides in the heart of all beings).

Any work remains unfulfilled and incomplete unless it is offered to the Lotus feet of Guru. Hence I offer this small verse on the Lotus feet of my Guru, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

Sadgurum yam varnyathe Vaasisthe
varnyathe vedaanthe Brahma ithi
Krishnam tu varnyathe Uttama ithi
Tan namaami Amriteshwaree.

That Amriteshwari (Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) who is called as Sadguru in the Yoga Vasistha, Brahman in the Upanishads, in Gita by Krishna as Uttama Purusha or Purushottama --- to that Devi I offer my prostrations.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 30

Aham apethakam nija vibhaanakam
Mahad idam tapo ramana Vaageyam

Word meaning
Aham apethakam – Devoid of Ego or Ahamkaara
Nija Vibhanakam – and that which shines of its own (Self-luminous)
Mahad idam tapo – is known or realized through austerity in the form of this work and its practice
Ramana Vageeyam – written by Ramana

Sloka meaning
Devoid of Ego or Ahamkaara and that which is self-luminous (the Self or Consciousness) is realized through the austerity of studying this work of Ramana.

With this sloka, Maharshi concludes the Upadesa Saram. This concluding sloka itself has the complete import of the work in it. What is the work about???? The work is about realization of the Self-luminous Self which is devoid of Ego or different from Ego and that which is realized when Ego vanishes. Who has written this work? Ramana has written the work. Here Maharshi puts a pun on the word Ramana. He doesn’t mean the name and form of Ramana Maharshi who has written the work – but he says that Ramana is the Self which has spoken about itself.

The name Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi was given to Maharshi by Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni, the great scholar and poet who even after learning the complete Vedas and other works did not find any peace of mind. He thus went to Ramana one morning and told him. Ramana then asked him “you say I don’t have any peace of mind. Find out this “I”, all sorrows will vanish”. This struck Ganapathi Muni very strongly as he had undergone lot of sadhanas and his mind was pure. He started meditating at that moment itself and meditated till the evening and he found out peace of mind. At that time, Ramana was called by the local people as Brahmana Swami (as he was a Brahmin by birth). Then, Ganapathi Muni called him Maharshi meaning a Maha Rishi – one who conquered everything and one who has realized the Self. He also called him Ramana which means that which is attracting – since the Self is attractive to everyone in the form of happiness (everyone irrespective of whether he knows or not, is searching for happiness alone and is attracted to happiness alone). Thus he called the great saint Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

Thus, here by Ramana is meant the Self alone and not the form of Maharshi.

Thus, Maharshi tells that it is the Self alone which is self-luminous and shines of its own. As Maharshi himself proclaimed in the 24th sloka that there is no other object which illumines other than Consciousness (Consciousness alone illumines everything in the world). This Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. Thus, Maharshi has pointed out that by knowing or realizing the Self alone one can get eternal bliss.

The path to realizing the Self is being mentioned by Maharshi as grasping the meaning of the work & implementing them in life.

The Self is ever-realized but it is ignorance of one’s own real nature which obstructs the ultimate reality that I am the Self to be known. And as a result of this ignorance, sorrow and sufferings are caused.

This ignorance itself has no cause, it is only an illusion which seems to exist due to lack of knowledge of the reality. The moment the reality about the Self is known, that very moment ignorance vanishes and only Self remains. This is the natural state of everyone. There is nothing here apart from the Self or Consciousness. I, you, the great Mahatmas, the samsaaris, the various animals, the various plants – everything are Brahman or Consciousness alone. This is the ultimate reality that alone can confer eternal bliss to the individual. The individual sees himself as the limited Ego, but in reality he is the Self which is one without a second and of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. This Self is realized through enquiring into one’s own real nature. Enquiry is possible only when the reality is heard from a person who has realized the reality. This is the first step towards enquiry – this is hearing about the scriptures from a Guru or from the scriptures directly. Once the reality has been heard about, then starts mental reflection on the reality – the various doubts are removed through logic and arguments. This removes all the doubts and intellectual conviction is gained. Once intellectual conviction is present, then through contemplation on the reality or holding on to the real “I” – the ignorance veil is removed. The ignorance is present only because the Self has been forgotten. If the Self is hold on continuously, the ignorance never comes in again and this is called realization or liberation or jeevan mukti.

The aim or goal to be achieved through this work of Upadesa Saram is to realize the reality of the Self through enquiry. A seeker might follow any path of devotion, knowledge, action or yoga – but all these lead to the final step where the individual has to know the reality that “I am the Self” – this final step is called Vichara or enquiring into one’s own real nature which has been stressed in the yoga vasistha, by Sankara and by Ramana Maharshi. This vichara is nothing but asking the question “Who am I” to oneself and finding out the answer through logic and to reach the Self as the final answer. When that self is known, then one should hold on to that thought of I am the Self – this in turn ensures that divertions do not happen and a person stays in the reality itself or as the reality.

The Self alone is the real entity. Everything that is seen is only an illusion in the Self – hence they are all unreal from the absolute standpoint. This Self is thus the nature of everyone. This reality that “I am the Self and the world is also the Self only” is what Ramana Maharshi propounded in this small work of Upadesa Saram.

This ultimate reality can be realized only through knowledge but many people are not suitable or eligible to directly follow the path of knowledge. Even if it is followed, those who are attracted towards the worldly sensual pleasures cannot realize the Self and know the meaning of the subtle scriptures. Hence, the various other means or paths are propounded in the Vedas. These are the path of devotion, action and yoga. These various paths also lead to the ultimate reality of oneness of the individual and Brahman or God or Ishwara. Thus, these are the various paths alone and the end is the non-dual reality and its knowledge.

Thus, for all sorts of people, Maharshi has expounded the various paths beautifully in this work and has shown that all these paths lead to the non-dual reality alone. Even though these paths may seem to be different but they are interlinked and a seeker cannot progress without following all of these paths.

Only fools will fight over that this path is greater or that path is greater, wise people will follow whatever path is suitable for them keeping in mind the ultimate knowledge which is the goal to be achieved or realized.

Maharshi is not just propounding any theory here on the basis of scriptural study or intellectual knowledge – but this truth is what Maharshi experienced and is speaking out his experience.

Vedanta doesn’t rely on any experience which only few selected individuals selected by either God or by Sankaracharya or by any other Mahatma can experience. Vedanta tells about the experience which any ordinary person can also experience. It propounds that Truth which is the essence of the world, the essence of the individual, the essence of existence itself. This reality is what is propounded by Maharshi in this work.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 29

Bandha Muktyatheetham param sukham
Vindhathi iha jeevah thu daivikah

Word meaning
Jeevah tu – The individual jeeva (who has acquired knowledge which is the nature of the Self)
Vindhathi - attains (realizes)
Daivikah – the divine state
Param – which is supreme and ultimate,
Sukham – blissful in nature and
Bandha Mukthi atheetham – beyond bondage and liberation
Iha – here in this world itself.

Sloka meaning
The Individual Jeeva (who has acquired the knowledge of the Self) realizes the divine state (his own real nature) which is supreme, blissful and beyond bondage and liberation here in this world itself.

Any work according to the scriptures contains the phalasruthi or the result of learning the work & imbibing the import of the work through practice and experience. Maharshi explains what would happen for the person who reads this work and contemplates on the meaning of the work and puts it to practice through intellectual conviction realizes the Self knowing which nothing remains to be known.

Thus the effect of the work is Self-Realization alone. Self-Realization is not just the fruit of this work alone but of all the Upanishads. The Upanishads has Brahman as its Vishaya or Subject. The achieving of Brahman or attaining Brahman alone is the import of all Upanishads. All various philosophies of Vedanta or schools of Vedanta accept this. The difference of opinion comes as to whether this Brahman is different from the Self or one’s own real nature – or it is the same as the Self. Most of the schools except Advaita don’t accept the Self to be one with Brahman – they also don’t accept Brahman as without qualities or Nirguna. For such schools, Brahman is God with various attributes.

But as Maharshi has explained previously itself that God and Jeeva are essentially one alone – but only seem to be different due to the limitations which are only mere illusions in the reality of Consciousness. The essence of both God and Jeeva are Existence which is not different from Consciousness. Thus the Brahman and the Jeeva are not different but they are essentially the same. It is ignorance which causes one to think that “I am different from God, I am different from Brahman – hence liberation is being a part of God or attaining the loka of God or praising the God”. Once the ignorance is known to be only mere illusion through knowledge of the Self, the Self alone remains – one without a second. There is at that time no Jeeva or Ishwara different from the Self. The Self existing, all other objects exist, all other limitations exist. This is the ultimate reality which if not known will not lead to eternal bliss whether the person goes to Vaikunta or to Kailash, whether he prays Avataars or the Lord himself – because all the differences of Avataars and Lord etc are only creations of the mind. They simply vanish during deep sleep. This shows that they are not real but seem to be real when the mind is present. As Maharshi himself has proclaimed, mind is only a bundle of thoughts arising out of Ego or I-thought. When the source of the mind or I-thought is sought out, it itself ceases to exist. At that time, only pure Consciousness exists – without any limitations.

Thus, the very purpose or goal of the Upanishads is to realize the Self which is one’s own real nature and not different from Brahman.

Let us now try to analyze one of the Upanishads in order to find out whether the import of Upanishads is to realize Brahman and also whether Brahman is the Self only or different from it.

The Mundaka Upanishad starts by the disciple of Saunaka (a householder) questioning Sage Angiras thus
Kasmin u bhagavo vijnaatham sarvam idam vijnaatham bhavathi ithi

That by knowing which everything becomes known – let me that O Lord!

A similar verse occurs in the 7th Chapter of Gita where Krishna tells to Arjuna
Jnaanam te aham savijnaanam idam vakshyaami asheshatah
Yat jnaatva na iha bhooyo anyat jnaatavyam avashishyathe

I will tell you knowledge along with experience or wisdom – knowing which there will remain nothing else to be known.

In Mundaka, thus questioned by Saunaka, Angiras starts explaining the creation process of the world, how the world came from Brahman and that everything here is Brahman alone. He goes on to enumerate many things in the world telling that all these came from Brahman alone (which means that everything is Brahman alone as that which came from Brahman cannot be different from Brahman). In a very much similar way, Krishna says to Arjuna after the above verse that whatever you see here is ME alone (here Me means Brahman or Consciousness alone and not the form of Krishna as supposed by many people – Krishna himself states in many places that I am not this form but Brahman alone). After telling that everything is Brahman alone, Angiras then tells Saunaka the way to overcome the samsaara or suffering through chanting of AUM (AUM is the symbol which represents Brahman – it stands for Brahman which cannot be explained or described – thus it is a linga or pointer to the ultimate reality of Brahman).

After telling all this, the Mundaka Upanishad concludes by Angiras telling Saunaka
Sa yo ha vai tat paramam brahma ved Brahmaiva bhavathi

He who knows the Supreme Brahman becomes Brahman itself (here Supreme is mentioned in order to distinguish between Brahman from which creation starts which is inferior or Saguna Brahman endowed with MAYA and Nirguna Brahman which remains one without a second and from which no creation is ever possible).

Thus, a knower of Brahman becomes Brahman itself. This Brahman if known, everything becomes known. This is possible only if everything is Brahman alone – else knowing one single object, everything cannot be known. As by knowing a single mud particle, the complete mud products are known – similarly by knowing Brahman everything is known – thus says Chandogya Upanishad. This is possible only if mud products are mud alone but with a name and form. This is true as we all know.

Similarly the world is thus only a name and form of Brahman – by knowing Brahman, the world which is in essence Brahman alone is known.

This can be true only if the individual Self or Consciousness is not different from Brahman because Brahman also exists only if Consciousness exists – if Consciousness is not there, even Brahman ceases to exist. Thus we have to conclude that the individual Self is Brahman alone (as the various Mahavakyas say that AYAM ATMA BRAHMA – this Self is Brahman alone and SARVAM KHALU IDAM BRAHMA – everything is Brahman alone).

Thus, we come to the conclusion that the Self is Brahman only – that Brahman by knowing which everything becomes known: that Brahman which stands for the illusions of names and forms which is the world: that Brahman which is without any change and ever remains as one without a second, even during times of illusions when world seems to exist (as rope only exists even when the snake is seen and rope remains without any change even though it seems to change into the snake).

This is what Maharshi has been telling in the path of knowledge till now. Thus Maharshi says in this sloka that the Self realizes its Supreme state of Bliss (when knowledge becomes complete through the path of enquiry).

The Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute as has been explained in the previous postings. This inherent blissful nature of the Self is rejoiced by everyone at the time of deep sleep where no external objects are perceived & only the Self remains. Thus the person states after waking up that “I slept well but I did not know anything”. This ignorance of the bliss rejoiced in that state is the cause for all the sorrow and sufferings in the world because the world itself is a cause of ignorance alone. As ignorance of the real nature of rope is the cause for seeing snake in the rope, similarly the ignorance of one’s own real nature of Self or Brahman and one without a second is the cause for the dual perception in the form of the world which again leads to dualities, likes and dislikes and further to sorrow and sufferings.

Thus, the only way out of this is to realize one’s own real nature of Consciousness through the path of enquiry into one’s own nature after hearing from the Guru about the Self, reflecting on the mind the nature of the Self & then contemplating on the ultimate reality that I am the Self, one without a second.

Maharshi adds in this sloka that the Self is beyond bondage and liberation because the Self is ever-realized. There is no liberation for the Self. Liberation and bondage are only for the mind which seems to exist when the reality of Self is not known. Thus bondage and liberation vanish the moment Self is known – they do not exist at all, they only seem to exist & will appear as only illusions without disturbing the reality. That state where the Self is realized is termed as Mukta avastha or realized state.

This realization is to be attained or realized here itself and not in the other world of heaven, Brahma Loka, Vaikunta or Kailaash. The various Upanishads themselves proclaim this.

Katha Upanishad says (2nd chapter 3rd Valli 4th sloka)
Iha ched ashakat bhodhum praak sareerasya visrasah
Tatah sargeshu lokeshu sareeratvaaya kalpathe

If this reality is not known here before leaving off the mortal coil, then the person returns to various lokas and goes through the cycle of birth and death continuously (this means no Vishnu or Siva or any avatar can save the person unless the person realizes his own eternal nature of Self – the various Gods can only serve to make one eligible to realize the Self through purification of the mind & can guide one to the reality. It is the individual who has to realize his own eternal state of realization. A Sadguru who has realized the Self will know very well that there is no Guru and no Shishya but only the Self, he will always be established in the reality even though he might be seen as doing work through the eyes of the ignorant)

Kena Upanishad says (2nd Chapter 4th sloka)
Iha Ched vedeet atha satyam asthi
Chediha avedeen mahathi vinashthi

If the reality is known here – then it is Truth and becomes experience. But if it is not known here, then it is huge loss.

Thus, the Self is one’s own real nature which is to be realized here and in this world and in this birth itself – one should never wait to realize the Self after getting old or after marrying and getting grandchildren or after doing rituals or after doing devotion to the Lord or after getting a vision of the Lord. All these are good and fine, but they are not the ultimate reality. The ultimate reality is that I am the Self – one without a second, I am the God, I am Brahman, I am the Vishnu who is all-pervading and seems to be present in Vaikunta, I am the Siva who seems to be wearing rudraakshas and bhasmaas sitting with Parvathi in Kailash, there is nothing here different from Me, I am the reality which stands for the illusion of the world, I am Consciousness of the nature of Bliss absolute.

This is the ultimate reality which is aim of Upanishads and of all beings in the world (some know it and search for it in the heart, others don’t know and hence search for it in temples and other objects in the illusory world).

Maharshi therefore asserts in this sloka that the ultimate reality has to be realized here itself.

A person should not term that realization here (and that too that I am God) is not right and is only suited for certain intellectual people or certain people ordained by the Lord. All these are wrong ideas and rubbish (not my words, but all great Mahatmas and Krishna himself says this in Gita and Bhagavatham). Those are fool who think thus and are not willing to realize their own very nature of Self – those people are to be termed as MAD and IDIOTS who don’t know their own very nature of God, Brahman and Self and think that I am the devotee of the Lord, I am the servant of the Lord, I am the body and the mind, I am a grihastha, I am a Brahmin, I am a ritualist etc. All these notions are mere superimpositions on the reality of “I” present due to ignorance about one’s own nature. Such people are termed as MOODHAAH or IDIOTS by the scriptures.

Sukracharya, the asura Guru tells to Mahabali in Yoga Vaasishta.
Chit iha asthi hi chin maatram idam chinmayam eva cha
Chit tvam chit aham ethe cha lokaah chit ithi sangrahah

Consciousness is what is present here, there is Consciousness alone. All this is full of Consciousness alone. You are Consciousness, I am Consciousness and the various worlds are Consciousness only – this is the essence of all teachings and the ultimate reality.

Bhavyosi chet etasmaat sarvam apnoshi nishchayam
No chet bahvapi proktam tvayi bhasmani hooyathe

If this know now, then everything is known. But if you are capable of knowing this, then nothing can make you realize the reality and everything will be like offerings to the ashes (instead of the yajna fire).

Chit chetya kalitha bandhah tan muktaa muktiruchyathe
Chit achetya kilaatma ithi sarva Vedanta sangrahah

Consciousness when mixed with thoughts (due to ignorance) is bondage & liberation is removal of thoughts. Consciousness devoid of thoughts is the Self – this is the essence of Vedanta.

Evam nishchayam aadaaya vilokaya Dheeyedhayaa
Svayameva atmana atmaanam anantha padam aapyasi

Knowing this reality, a person should see things with this discrimination and from this understanding. Thereby, he will realize the Self without any external effort & attain the infinite state of one’s own real nature (attain here means realize).

The last part of the sloka thus says that Guru is not important (in human form). The various scriptures themselves are Gurus only, the various works of Sankara are gurus. If a person follows then with devotion and faith, he realizes the Self within no time because the Self is already realized and all efforts are only to remove the ignorance which is done through study of scriptures or contemplation which don’t necessarily require a Guru.

Thus, the Self is already realized and each & every one is the Self alone. Without knowing the Self, nothing in this world or the other worlds can help the person because all these are creations of ignorance alone. One’s own very nature is Self and realizing that is the ultimate aim of all beings. This realization of the Self can be had through learning of the Upadesa saram, reflecting upon the meaning of the Upadesa saram (reflection means to clear out all doubts and getting a clear intellectual conviction about the reality) and contemplating on the reality that has been propounded by Maharshi in this work.

With this sloka, Maharshi has ended the essence of the work. In the last sloka (30th sloka) which is the next sloka, Maharshi again summarizes the whole teaching of the work thereby stressing on the ultimate reality that has to be realized through the various Upanishads and through all the various paths to the reality. We will see the last sloka tomorrow.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Path of Knowledge

The summary of the path of knowledge (from 16th sloka to 28th sloka):

16) The mind withdrawn from the seen is the vision of Consciousness. That is the vision of reality also.
17) When a person enquires “What is the source of the mind”, he finds out that there is no mind. This is the direct path to reality.
18) Now, thoughts are the mind. The thoughts depend upon I-thought alone. Hence know that I-thought is the mind.
19) “From where this I-thought arises”, thus for an enquiring person, I-thought vanishes. This is Self-Enquiry.
20) When I-thought or Ego is destroyed, the pure I shines forth on its own as the Supreme and perfect (full) Existence.
21) This pure Consciousness or Self which is indicated by the word “I”, following the merger of the individual “I” or jeeva and when the total I or Ishwara also merges – shines due to the indestructible nature of itself.
22) I am the one and only Existence or reality (the only thing really existing is I alone). The three bodies of gross, subtle and causal are not me as they are insentient and hence non-existent.
23) Where is there any other thing to illumine Existence apart from Consciousness (not there is not any other thing). Because Existence is Consciousness and I am Consciousness.
24) Between Jeeva (the individual) and Ishwara (the Lord or creator), there is difference only with respect to body and intellect (gross and subtle body). By their true and essential nature, absolute reality alone is (meaning by their essence both are Consciousness alone).
25) When the limitations or adjuncts of body and mind are removed, that is one’s own vision of the Self. This itself is vision of God as one’s own Self.
26) As the Self is non-dual or one without a second, establishing oneself in one’s one Self or Consciousness is the vision of the Self. This itself is being fixed in the Self or Brahman.
27) Consciousness is devoid of the thought or vritti of ignorance and knowledge also. Is there any knowledge other than the Self to know the Self?? There is not (The Self is self-knowing and hence doesn’t require any special knowledge to be known).
28) What is the nature of the Self (thus enquiring), one realizes the Self as Indestructible, unborn, perfect and of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.

Knowledge and Action – Two distinct paths prescribed in the Vedas.

The Upanishads proclaim two distinct paths to be followed in the world (or while living in the world). One is the path of Nivritthi or that of renounciation and Knowledge. The other is the path of Pravritthi or action.

Any person in the world has the option to chose between either of these two paths. One path leads to eternal bliss whereas the other leads to temporary happiness either in this world or in the world hereafter (heaven or Vaikunta or Kailash or any such lokas).

There is no other path than these two in the world.

Realization or liberation can be achieved or rather realized only through the path of knowledge. Realization is complete cessation of sorrow which in turn ensures eternal bliss to be rejoiced, to become perfect, to become complete so that nothing else is either craved for or aspired for. The realized person has no desires, no actions but always remains established in the Self, one without a second. Even though such a person might be seen as doing actions from the view of the ignorant people, he never does any action – the Ego has vanished thereby no actions are possible – he is ever united with the Self or Brahman or God.

Sorrows are not something external nor the inherent nature of human beings. The nature of human beings cannot be sorrow because the nature is always aspired for and natural state is devoid of any tension or vibrations. But sorrow creates vibrations and tension. And nobody wants sorrow. This shows that sorrow is not the natural state of humans or the “I” or Consciousness (this “I” normally is associated with various equipments of body and mind – and hence seems to get attached to objects and emotions – but in reality this “I” remains just a mere witness to all the actions and this witness is called Consciousness or Self). And one analyzes the state of deep sleep, he realizes that “I” enjoy only bliss during that state – there is no sorrow. Also that state is always aspired for – hence it is right to conclude that bliss is the very nature of “I” or Consciousness (this Consciousness is the real nature of everyone in the world).

Therefore, realization is nothing but realizing that eternal bliss is in Me. Then where does sorrow come from????
The ancient rishis asked this question to themselves and when they were analyzing this, they found out the reality that sorrows are only illusions created in the mind. If sorrow was something inherent either in the Subject of Self or the objects in the world, any person enjoying the object should get sorrow. But it is not the same. Some people get sad or sorrow thinking of whisky or drinks – but the very same object becomes source of happiness for some others. This only shows that the sorrow or happiness are not in the external objects but in the mind of the Seer or Subject only.

When the mind is made pure, the very same object which gave sorrow previously gives happiness. This is the reason why great saints remain always happy in all surroundings and environments. They never are affected by those because their mind has merged into the Self. Their mind is no mind but only Self.

It is ignorance of one’s own real nature which causes the mind to enter into thoughts and thereby enter into the duality of sorrow and happiness. Clear out the mind, eliminate the mind – and the person sees only happiness everywhere (the happiness which is the inherent nature of the Self is seen or perceived everywhere).

This realization of one’s own real nature is called Realization or Moksha or Liberation. Realization is not something to be attained or achieved new – but it is already present. The Self is Nitya Suddha Buddha Mukta – ever pure, ever liberated, ever enlightened. Knowing or becoming aware that “I am realized” is called liberation. It is ignorance of this eternal and real nature of oneself that causes sorrow and suffering in the world (which in turn makes one drive towards various temples and saints to find happiness either through money or through power or through so-called devotion which lacks the real qualities of devotion). It is a real pity that the Self which is ever realized is trying to find happiness in the external world whereas it has the happiness inherent as its very nature.

The famous story of Kucchu and where are my glasses has to be remembered to understand this. The glasses or spectacles were in his eyes and with that he was searching where his glasses were.

This is the case of search for happiness in the external world. No object external whether it be the idol of Vishnu or Siva or whether it is the very Lord Vishnu or even the form of Ramana Maharshi cannot confer eternal bliss which is present only in the Self – in the heart of all beings – and is the very nature of the Self (which we all always were, always are and always will be). What the form of Vishnu or Siva can confer is only limited and temporary happiness which will last only till the form exists or the form is visible. So much is the devotion that the moment a person stands in between the Seer and the Lord’s idol – there starts cursing and abusing!!!!! Therefore, eternal bliss or Moksha is realizing one’s own nature – not going to any Mahatma or any temple or any saint (even be it Adi Sankaracharya also). A great realized saint will only say the ultimate reality that “TAT TVAM ASI” or THAT THOU ALREADY ART.

If people are thinking the above words as harsh and against scriptures as well as against great words of Mahatmaas, these are not my words. This limited intellect and body named HARIRAM has nothing to add to whatever has been told in the scriptures and by great Mahatmas.

Yoga Vasistha says
Santyajya hrid griha eeshaanam devam anyam prayaanthi ye
Te ratnam abhivaanchanthi tyaktvaa hasthastha kaustubham

Those who renounce or forget the eternal God in the heart (one’s own real nature) and run after other Gods, they are like people who run after jewels while having the great jewel Kaustubha in hand!!!!!

Kena Upanishad says
Iha ched vedha atha satyam asthi ched iha avedin mahathee vinasthih

If this reality is Known here, it is Truth – if not known here, it is a great miss.

Sankara says in Dashashloki
Nahaam na tvam –You are not there, I am not there.
Then what is there
Tad eko avashisthah shivah kevaloham – There exists only ONE Consciousness or Self which is absolute in nature (one alone without any second object).

In the great Gopika Gitam in Bhagavatham, Gopis tell about Krishna
Na khalu gopikaa nandhano bhavaan
Akhila dehinaam antharaatma drik

You are not the son of Nanda O Krishna, but you are the Self of all beings.

Krishna says in Gita
Avajaananthi maam moodhaah maanusheem tanum aasritham
Param bhaavam ajaanantho mama bhoota maheswaram

Those who consider Me (the Self) as being embodied (in the form of Krishna) are fools. They don’t know my real nature of pure Self and controller of the elements or controller of creation itself (or controller of the senses which is the Self).

Thus, all the above scriptures proclaim in one voice that the Self is one’s own very nature, God is not different from the innermost being & God is one’s own very nature only and knowing this ultimate reality is Realization.

The world of creation itself is only an illusion & like a long dream. This illusion is superimposed on the reality of Self whether it is called Consciousness or God or Brahman or Ishwara or Vishnu or Siva. All the various terms point to one reality alone of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute.

Realization is thus realizing one’s own real nature knowing which one realizes that the world around are only thoughts & mere illusions in the reality of Self – which seem to exist because of ignorance of one’s own nature of Self.

As reality is veiled by ignorance, it can be removed only through knowledge & not through any other means.

Actions are propelled by desires. Any thought alone is converted to actions. Hence, desires are what is generally termed as thoughts. These thoughts and desires arise of the goal to achieve perfection or completeness. This desire to achieve perfection is due to ignorance about one’s own real nature of PERFECTION or PARIPOORNA ATMA.

Hence KARMA arises out of KAAMA and KAAMA arises out of AVIDYA. Thus ignorance is the main cause of actions. Since ignorance is the cause of bondage & its removal being the only way to realization – action cannot pave way to realization (because action is not against ignorance as it itself is born out of ignorance and will add more to ignorance). Therefore the only way to realization is KNOWLEDGE which is opposite of ignorance & is capable of removing ignorance.

The Upanishads proclaim the path of Knowledge as the one and only way to realization. Whatever other means of devotion or action or yoga one follows – one has to reach the goal through knowledge alone – the ultimate non-dual knowledge that I alone exist here is called Knowledge or Brahma Vidya. This alone is realization and liberation.

Therefore no action can confer one realization as action is not against ignorance which is the main obstacle for realization.

Interested people can go through Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya on Sutra 1.1.4 or the first chapter of Sureshwaracharya’s Naiskarmya Siddhi where they both deal in depth that Action can never confer realization and only knowledge can make one realize one’s own real nature of Consciousness.

Even the acts of meditation or Samadhi or bhajan or devotion are only ACTIONS which has its base in ignorance alone. Hence the one and only way to realize the Self is to contemplate on the ultimate reality of one’s own nature through hearing of the scriptures, reflecting in the mind & contemplating in the reality. This is what Maharshi tells as Enquiry or Vichara in Upadesa Saram. Maharshi himself has mentioned in the work that the meditatation or devotion that “I am HE” is better than the devotion which has the separation between the devotee and the Lord.

Ishwara and Jeeva
These are two terms which have caused lot of problems and different theories or philosophies among various acharyas. One has to understand that whether it is Jeeva or Ishwara both have their base in Consciousness alone. We cannot imagine Vishnu without Consciousness, we cannot imagine God without Consciousness – that God ceases to be a God in that case. Therefore it is Consciousness which appears as the dual objects of the world. Ishwara and Jeeva are different based on their limitations of intellect & in essence, they are one and the same only.

This is what Vedanta proves through various Mahavakyas of TAT TVAM ASI (THAT THOU ART), PRAJNAANAM BRAHMA (Consciousness is Brahman), AHAM BRAHMA ASMI ( I am Brahman) and AYAM ATMA BRAHMA (This Self is Brahman only).

When the limitations of intellect, mind and body are removed, what remains behind is Consciousness alone – one without a second. This Consciousness is the only thing in the world which is capable of experiencing its own existence (that “I-exist, I-exist”). The various objects in the world exist only because of the light from Consciousness. Therefore Maharshi proclaimed that the Self is Existence and Consciousness. The Self is also of the very nature of Bliss as experienced in deep sleep. This bliss is not rejoiced now because of the limitations of the body and mind. When these limitations are removed, one enjoys the eternal bliss inherent in the Self. Therefore the Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.

The Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance – as both of these are objective even the knowledge got from the scriptures are not real knowledge of the Self – but they are only objective knowledge used to negate objective ignorance. When illusory ignorance is removed through illusory knowledge of the scriptures, both vanish & the real knowledge or svaroopa of the Self shines forth. This is the reason why even though one is already the Self, one is advised to contemplate that I am Brahman or I am the Self. This is not real knowledge but only vritti knowledge or knowledge in the form of thoughts which are used to remove all other thoughts. When other thoughts are removed, this thought also vanishes (as –ve eliminates +ve and vanishes itself leading to a state of voidness where objects are not there and only Subject of Self remains).

Lastly, Maharshi proclaimed that the Self is neither born nor will it die. IT is always present, it is the only thing present. It is the only reality which is seen in all illusions of rope-snake, dream, mirage and the long waking world. There is only Self here, one without a second. And this Self is not somewhere in Vaikunta or Kailash but it is one’s own very nature. Knowing this is realization and the aim of human life. This is what is the main aim of Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram also.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 28

Kim svaroopam ithi Atma darshane
Avaya abhava aapurna chit sukham

Word meaning
Kim Svaroopam – What is the nature
Atma darshane ithi – of the Self (thus enquiring, one finds that the Self is)
Avyayaa, abhava – Indestructible, unborn
Aapoorna chit sukham – Perfect and Full Consciousness and Bliss.

Sloka meaning
What is the nature of the Self (thus enquiring), one realizes the Self as Indestructible, unborn, perfect and of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.

Maharshi is here giving the clear lakshana or nature of the Self or Consciousness which is the absolute reality of the relative illusory & hence unreal world.

In the previous verse Maharshi proclaimed that the Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance & there requires no external knowledge medium to know the Self which is the Seer that is always established and pulsates as “I-exist, I-exist”.

This is not a direct explanation of the Self or description of the Self. The Upanishads proclaim that everything in this world becomes an object and objects can be defined or described. But the Subject which itself is the definer of the definitions of the objects, the describer of the descriptions can never be defined or described. A person cannot see his eye with his eye. Only thing is he can see the eye with the help of a mirror which gives only a mirror-image and not a real image (this mirror image also is faulty as everyone knows about it).

Therefore Upanishads again and again proclaim that there is only one thing in the world which hasn’t yet been described perfectly – that is the Self or Brahman or Ishwara or God of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. This is mainly because it is beyond words and thoughts which are the basic medium of explanations. The words and thoughts arise from the Self and hence cannot define its own source from which they derive the illumination and existence.

But the Self cannot be the voidness of Buddhists – as it is explained as Neti Neti in the scriptures & negation of everything leads to the Self & as the Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. Hence to clear this doubt of the seeker as to whether the Self is really existent or just another kind of illusion which is of the nature of voidness, the Upanishads gives the inherent nature of the Self.

That nature of the Self is being explained here by Maharshi. Let us try to analyze each and every word that Maharshi uses here to explain the Self (which is one’s own real nature).

Avyaya or Indestructible and Abhava or Unborn
That which is subject to birth is subject to changes as well as death. Such a changing object cannot be the Self because the Self is always constant – changeless and that from which the world gets its existence. Hence the Self is without any birth and death. Since the Self is without birth and death, it is without any change also (that which is born is subject to change also).

Only such a changeless being can give eternal happiness. Any changing object cannot give eternal bliss as changing object will itself cease to exist after some time. Hence, the Self which is changeless is the ultimate reality beyond time and space.

It is also pretty evident that such a changeless and birthless Self is my very nature. The “I” that we call is without any change – it remains the same as it was 10 years ago and 100 years ago. Even before birth of the body, the “I” was there and even after death of the body “I” remains. Thus one’s own very nature is without birth, change and death.

Perfect or Full – Aapoorna
The Self is perfect or full. That which is full alone can confer satisfaction or contentment. One’s own very nature is fullness or perfect being. This is very well known during the state of deep sleep where nothing is craved for and nothing is cried for. Only that completeness or fullness can confer eternal bliss which is being enjoyed or rejoiced in the state of deep sleep. This shows that one’s own very nature is fullness only. If one’s own nature were not fullness, then no one would want to go to sleep – whereas everybody wants to go to sleep irrespective of any limitations.

It is a very well known fact that when a person is his natural state – there will be no disturbance, no tensions, no movement, no sorrow. This is known by the very fact of a person’s state of mind when he has gone to a place different from his house – his natural instinct is to return to his house. Until he returns to his house, he doesn’t have any rest. This is because only in the natural state, there is perfectness and completeness. In all other states, one strives for things – one has desires, tensions, complications, sorrows and sufferings.

The sorrow that we have is not the inherent nature of the Self or “I”. Because if sorrow was the natural state, no one would want to attain happiness. But we see that people are all striving for eternal bliss. The sorrow thus is not the real and natural state of the Self.

The inherent and natural state of the Self is Consciousness and Bliss as Maharshi says in the last few words. Consciousness is one’s own real nature because it is from “I” or Me that all objects gain existence. “I” alone is capable of having the independent experience that “I-exist, I-exist”. This is the nature only of the Self – not of any other object. As Maharshi himself proclaimed earlier that Consciousness alone is capable of illumining existence, therefore my real nature is Consciousness alone. Not just Consciousness, but Bliss also as we have seen above.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 27

Jnaana varjita ajnaana heena chit
Jnaanam asthi kim jnaatum antharam

Word meaning
Ajnaana Heena Chit – Consciousness is devoid of ignorance (which is a vritti)
Jnaana Varjita – and devoid of the vritti of knowledge also.
Jnaanam asthi – Is there any knowledge
Kim antharam – other than (the Self, Consciousness)
Jnaatum – to know (the Self or Consciousness)?
(There is none)

Sloka meaning
Consciousness is devoid of the thought or vritti of ignorance and knowledge also. Is there any knowledge other than the Self to know the Self?? There is not (The Self is self-knowing and hence doesn’t require any special knowledge to be known).

Maharshi is explaining here the inherent nature of the Self which is knowledge or Consciousness called Chit.

Any knowledge has three different parts or players called Triputi. They are the knower (the Subject), the object of knowing (Object) and the action of knowledge (the vritti of knowledge through which the object is known). The Self is one without a second and hence there are no differences either internal or external in the ultimate reality of Self. Hence, there is no distinction of triputi in the Self. Thus, the Self is beyond knowledge and ignorance both (knowledge is only a vritti or another form of thought through which objects are known).

The vritti knowledge is of the form of AHAM BRAHMASMI through which a person always contemplates on the ultimate reality of Brahman which in turn removes or negates the vritti ignorance – both knowledge and ignorance are only relative and hence illusory only.

The real nature of Brahman is Knowledge or Consciousness. This Consciousness is self-luminous and of the nature of pure Knowledge (which is beyond the normal objective knowledge and ignorance). Thus, for such a self-luminous object there requires nothing else to illumine it. The Sun which makes objects visible to the eye of the beings itself is illumined by Consciousness alone. But for Consciousness, sun will not have its shine.

A person when inside a dark room doesn’t need any light to know his own existence. He doesn’t need to ascertain from another person that whether I exist or not. This is what is called self-luminous nature of the Self. The Self which illumines all the external objects ranging from the intellect, the mind, the Ego, the sense organs and the various external sense objects is of the very nature of Consciousness or illumination. AS the Sun doesn’t require any other light to illumine itself, similarly the Self doesn’t require any other light or knowledge to illumine itself.

The objective knowledge that we normally speak of is composed of the Subject and the Object. This knowledge is objective knowledge – knowledge about the external objects. Any objective knowledge is not complete or perfect because these all depend on the Subject of the Self for their very existence and hence they are relative. Vedanta asserts that whatever is relative cannot be eternally real because it depends on something else for its existence. Such relatives things are only illusions seen in the absolute thing of Self or Consciousness.

Thus, the knowledge that we get in normal cases is only relative and objective knowledge. The Self is even beyond this knowledge because it can never be known through any medium as it is the Knower of all knowledge. The Subject who is the Seer can never become the Seen. Example for this is the case of the eye – a person cannot see his own eye directly. Yes, he can see it through a mirror but the image is not shown in the right way which everyone knows. Therefore, as the eye which is the Subject of Sight cannot be Seen, similarly the Self which is Knower of all objective knowledge can never be known through those mediums which are illumined by the Self only.

The intellect itself works only based on the illumination of the Self – the Self is the only thing which is self-existing and self-luminous. There needs no external proof for the existence of the Self.

Thus, one should know very clearly that the knower which is the Self can never become an object of knowledge but when the objects are removed along with the medium of mind and intellect, the Self itself shines forth as Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. Hence, if a person says that I experienced the Self while I was sitting near my Guru, I experienced God while meditating; Vedanta says that all the person has not experienced the Self. The Self is beyond thoughts and words.

Taittiriya Upanishad proclaims
Yato Vaacho nivarthanthe Apraapya Manasaa sah
The Self cannot be known either through words or through the mind.

Katha Upanishad says
Naiva Vaacha na manasaa praptum shakyo na chakshushaa
Asthi ithi eva uplabdhyah anyatra katham tad upalabyathe

The Self or the ultimate reality cannot be known through words or the mind or the sense organs. It is that which pulsates as “I-exist, I-exist”. For such a Self which is self-existent and self-luminous, what other medium is required to know?

Thus, the Self can be realized as one’s own Consciousness, the “I” which is pure and seems to be afflicted by the bondages that are present in the world, the “I” which seems to be both the doer and the enjoyer and the “I” which is neither the doer nor the enjoyer but is unaffected in the illusions seen in itself like the space is unaffected the dust particles in air.

Then how come the Self is not known by everyone????
Everyone knows the Self – there is no one who doesn’t know the Self. But there are very few who know that they know the Self, who know that “I am the Self”. Others due to ignorance don’t know their own real nature of Self or Consciousness. Upanishads tell two beautiful stories about realization & that realization is not something new to be attained but realizing one’s own real nature of Consciousness through removal of ignorance which obstructs the Self being known as one’s own real nature.

A lioness who was pregnant saw a flock of sheep and she pounced over the sheep. At that time, she gave birth to a lion cub and died on the spot. Thus, the lion cub was amongst the young sheep. The cub grew along with the sheep and behaved exactly like a sheep. Then one day a lion saw this cub amongst the sheep and was surprised. The lion then caught hold of the cub which then started to cry like a sheep!!! It took the cub to a river and said “See yourself and see me in the river”. The cub watched the river and saw that he was very much like the lion only. Suddenly realization dawned and it realized that it is not a sheep but a lion. Then it started roaring like the lion and started behaving like a lion.

The above story is illustrated to show that the cub never was a sheep, it never was converted to a sheep. But it didn’t know its own real nature of lion and hence considered itself as a sheep. But when a person like Guru came to it and told it that “you are a lion”, it realized its own very nature or Lion.

Similarly the Self is always present and a person is already that only. But this has been forgotten and all activities including study of scriptures and contemplation on Brahman or the Self are all illusions only – they are performed in order to remove the ignorance which obstructs one to realize his own very nature of Self.

Another story illustrated in Panchadashi of Vidyaranya is the story of ten fools.

There were once ten fools who were disciples of a Guru. They wanted to go to a village and hence asked permission from the Guru and started going to the village. On the way, they had to cross a river. They crossed the river. But then they had a doubt whether everyone had reached the shore safely or anyone was drowned. Hence they decided to take a count of everyone. So, one person started counting. He counted till 9 but forgot to count himself. Then another person also counted and he too forgot to count himself. Thus, they thought that one person had died and started crying and weeping over the dead-person. Then a passerby stopped and asked them what was the problem and he told them that he would count. He then counted all ten. They were now little bit happy, but not yet convinced. So, the passerby told the first person to count. He counted till 9 and then the passerby told the person “You are the Tenth”. Hearing this, they were all rejoiced and very happy.

Everyone has forgotten about the Self – one’s own real nature and are trying to find God in the external world forgetting the reality that the Self is the God, God is one’s own real nature of Consciousness.
Thus, unknowing this reality about oneself, people start crying over external things & the sorrows-sufferings which are mere illusions arising out of ignorance of the real nature of Self. But when a person in the form of Guru tells that “YOU ARE THAT” or TAT TVAM ASI, the person realizes his eternal nature of Consciousness through indirect experience. This becomes direct when he analyzes the statement of the Guru and the scriptures which completely remove the ignorance of the person. Thus he rejoices in the eternal bliss of the Self.

The above two stories are illustrated in order to show that the Self is not an object to be newly known or an object at all, but it is the Subject which has been forgotten due to ignorance about its real nature. That’s what Maharshi is telling in this sloka that the Self is beyond knowledge and ignorance – and that the Self requires nothing external medium or knowledge to be known. Only thing required is removal of ignorance through the process of Self-Enquiry which Maharshi has put forth in the previous slokas.

When this ignorance is removed through the knowledge of contemplation on the reality, the reality of Self shines forth as self-luminous Bliss, one without a second. Thus, the Self is beyond both concepts of ignorance and knowledge & also there requires no external knowledge or medium to know itself.

That Self we all already are. This knowledge or realization that “I am the Self and everything that is seen is only an illusion in the Self” needs to realized through removal of ignorance which vanishes the moment its source is sought out and through contemplation on the reality.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Knowledge and its need

What is need for spirituality?? Will not sensual pleasure derived from external sense objects be enough??
A seeker should know the answer to the above questions clearly.

Spirituality is not something different from normal living. Spirituality is not taking to ascetism and doing intense tapas in a forest or in the Himalayas. Spirituality is trying to find out the real and permanent thing which in turn will give one eternal bliss and as to how life should be lived amidst external sense objects & distractions.

It is utter ignorance which has been handed down through traditions and generations which makes one scream and become afraid when the word SPIRITUALITY or the word Upanishads or Vedanta are heard. These are all due to misconceptions about spirituality and Vedanta.

Vedanta doesn’t advise anyone to leave his home and go to a forest to do meditation, but Vedanta tells one to live happily in the world (amidst all sensual pleasures). The greatest Vedantist quoted in the scriptures were all householders only like Vasistha, Viswamitra, Janaka, Ambariksha among others.

Thus, Vedanta is not a science of sanyaas and which has a prerequisite of Sanyaas – but Vedanta is that which leads one to be detached even while having attachments. Vedanta makes one a sanyaasin even when he is working in the society.

The external sense objects are always changing and impermanent. Thus, these objects cannot confer eternal and permanent happiness to the seeker. The happiness that one derives from these external objects are temporary and will only lead to more and more sorrow (when happiness is got from ice cream –the expectation increases and next time if ice cream is not got, then the memory of happiness got before will lead to sorrow!!!!). Thus, only by seeking the permanent and real thing can a person get eternal bliss or permanent happiness. Spirituality is that science, it is that mirror which shows one the ultimate reality and how it can be achieved.

Thus, spirituality is not just for the special few well versed in Sanskrit and scriptures, for the very few bearing sacred thread, for the few who have tufts in their hair or for the few who have taken to ascetism. Spirituality alone can confer eternal and permanent bliss to the seeker.

Spirituality mainly deals with knowledge part of the Vedas called Upanishads or Vedanta.

If we analyze into the sorrow that is derived from the external sense objects, we will realize that those sorrows are the creations of the mind alone. The objects themselves don’t give any sorrow but it is in the mind that the thought of sorrow and happiness are present. The same seeker when in the state of deep sleep where nothing other than himself is perceived rejoices in eternal bliss. This shows that eternal bliss is not different from the seeker & it emanates from the seeker only. When we again analyze this bliss and the temporary happiness in the person, we will realize that the happiness comes because the wrong notions of body and mind are not present in deep sleep. But at this moment, the individual considers himself as the body with a name and form. Thus starts the journey of sorrow. Since the individual “I” has got limited to a form, others become different from this individual. Thus likes and dislikes are created due to attachment and aversion towards others (which again was created only through the limitation of the individual). These likes and dislikes in turn cause sorrow and happiness.

But if we think deeply, this “I” is neither the body nor the mind. It is beyond the body and mind. It is that which sustains the body and the mind. It is that which sustains both the gross body in this state of waking and subtle body in the state of dream. This “I” is of the nature of Consciousness. It is very clear that when “I” am there, the world is there. “I” am aware or conscious of myself. This Consciousness is thus my very nature. This Consciousness is also of the nature of Existence and Bliss.

When this reality that “I am Consciousness” is known, then the world disappears as an illusion – the world becomes an illusion in the reality of Consciousness because it is Consciousness which makes the world existent – without Consciousness there is no world at all. When thus the non-dual Consciousness, one without a second is known – then there is nothing to get attracted to or averted to. Thus there are no likes and dislikes & thereby no sorrow and happiness. The state becomes very much like deep sleep where also there is no duality and hence bliss inherent in the Self is rejoiced. But in deep sleep, there is a veil of ignorance which makes one unaware of the bliss in that state. But when this ultimate reality is realized in this state, there remains no ignorance left as ignorance is nothing but forgetfulness of one’s own nature of Consciousness.

Thus, Sankara says in Aparokshanubhuthi
Ajnaana prabhavam sarvam jnaanena pravileeyathe
Everything arises out of ignorance and vanishes when knowledge dawns.

Here one may ask will then knowledge exist apart from oneself after ignorance vanishes???
This also Sankara answers in Atmabodha
Ajnaana kalusham jeevah jnaanaabhyasaat vinirmalam
Kritvaa jnaanam svayam nashyet jalam kathakarenuvat

Jeeva or individual endowed with ignorance becomes pure through the practice of knowledge. Once knowledge is complete, it itself vanishes as the Kathaka powder (used to cleanse water) vanishes after purifying the water.

Thus, we can conclude that it is due to ignorance that all problems have arised – ignorance of one’s own nature, ignorance about the illusory nature of the world, ignorance about the reality that there is nothing but Consciousness alone and the world is also Consciousness alone – and this can be removed only through knowledge and no other means.

Any other means like devotion, action etc. are helpful only in purifying the mind – all these are born out of desires which again comes out of ignorance about one’s own real nature of PERFECTION (where desire can never arise). Thus, that which is born out of ignorance can never remove ignorance. Ignorance can be removed only through knowledge (knowledge about the ultimate reality which is one without a second and which is the only thing present).

Sankaracharya, according to the scriptures, says that there are four qualifications required for a person who wants to know the Self. These are called Saadhana Chatushtayam (four-fold qualifications).

These four are
Viveka or Discrimination between real and unreal
Vairagya or Dispassion
the six qualities of Sama (mental calmness), Dama (control of sense organs), Uparama (withdrawal of sense organs from their external sense objects), titiksha (endurance), Sraddha (faith in the scriptures and Guru’s words), Samadhana (mental equilibrium achieved through establishing the mind in the Self)
Mumukshutvam or burning desire for liberation

These four are not mere words or just concepts put to fit into a philosophy. A person who has these four qualities realizes the Self the moment the Guru tells him TAT TVAM ASI or THAT THOU ART. This itself shows the importance of these four qualifications which are essential if a person has to realize the Self, if a person wants to pursue knowledge which is the final means to realization.

These four qualifications are not separate and independent but they are dependent on one another. If a person follows one or two of these, the others follow suit.

Viveka is knowing the illusory world apart from the Self or Consciousness which is the reality or substratum of the illusory world (even as dream world is an illusion in the dreamer). When a person gets this discrimination, he naturally gets attracted to the real thing of Self (because only real thing can give permanent and eternal bliss). This makes him dispassionate towards the worldly objects. As a result of these, he gets the desire for liberation – to be liberated from this illusion of the world. This in turn takes his mind away from sense objects (which is Uparama and Dama) – thus he gains mental calmness. Thus, he remains always established in the truth of the scriptures (which shows that he has the qualities of Samadhana and Sraddha).

Thus, all these four qualifications are not independent but dependent on one another.

One’s own face is not seen if the mirror is not clear. Similarly the Self or Consciousness (which is one’s own real nature) cannot be known or realized clearly if the mirror of mind is not pure and without any movement or thoughts. Thus, anyone can read the scriptures and know the ultimate reality that “TAT TVAM ASI” – but mere knowing it intellectually is not realization. Realization dawns only when ignorance is removed through purification of the mind (which causes the ignorance). Therefore, one has to practice these qualities in order to be able to apprehend the ultimate reality of Consciousness – one without a second. And only then will the realization dawn on the individual that the world, the scriptures, the knowledge everything is only an illusion in the ultimate reality of Consciousness which is his very nature.

Let us all try to practice atleast one of the above four qualifications and therefore become eligible for realizing the Self (one’s own nature of Consciousness).

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 26

Atma Samsthithih Svaatma Darshanam
Atma nirdvayaat Aatmanisthathaa

Word meaning
Atma Nirdvayaat – Since the Self is non-dual or one without a second,
Atma Samsthithih – established in one’s own Self or Consciousness
Svaatma Darshanam – is the vision of the Self.
Aatma Nisthathaa – this is also fixing oneself in the Self.

Sloka meaning
As the Self is non-dual or one without a second, establishing oneself in one’s one Self or Consciousness is the vision of the Self. This itself is being fixed in the Self or Brahman.

Maharshi in this sloka again stresses that the vision of the Self is establishment in the Self alone.

A seeker should be very clear with the definition of liberation or realization and should know what this really means. Realization is not something to be gained fresh or after leaving the mortal coil on Earth. Realization is not something that can be seen because whatever is seen vanishes (is illusory alone like the worldly sense objects). This means realization is not an experience that can be attained in either heaven or during yoga meditation when kundalini power is aroused.

Realization is what already is. Realization is knowing one’s own nature of God or Brahman. Realization is vision of oneself (as one cannot see oneself, realization means removal of obstructions of ignorance so that the Self shines forth without any hindrance). Realization is one’s own very nature. Unless realization is what already is present, it will be born and hence will die also – thus it will not be eternal. Hence, realization is something that already is present – that which is ever present and pulsates as “I-exist, I exist”. Knowing one’s own nature of this Self which pulsates as “I-exist, I-exist” is called realization.

Any object in the world can be experienced. All these are experienced by the experiencer. But the Self is the experiencer of everything and hence it can never be experienced. Thus the Self cannot be an experience of the mind and sense objects as it is beyond all these.

Therefore if a person says that I saw God in Kailas yesterday, this means that his perception of God was not the real Self but only mortal God with a name and form which will obviously vanish after sometime (as the very experience of the person tells it).

Such a God is not the reality of Self or Brahman. Thus, such a God is only a perception of the mind and an object of experience. As explained earlier, God cannot be seen because it is the Seer of all objects, the experiencer of all experiences, substratum of all illusions.

Thus, realization is knowing or realizing one’s own real nature of Self and not attaining some God sitting in heaven.

Haven’t the Upanishads said about attaining Moksha or liberation which in turn means there is bondage present???
Upanishads proclaim attainment of Moksha only from the illusory viewpoint of the seeker. As there is ignorance in the seeker who finds himself not liberated, Upanishads proclaim that there is illusory bondage present due to ignorance and this bondage is removed by knowledge of one’s own nature which is termed liberation.

Thus, bondage and liberation are only illusions and therefore for the mind alone – they do not affect the Self which is ever-realized. The Self is ever-realized, ever-liberated.

Upanishad proclaim
Man eva manushyaanaam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh
Bandhaaya vishayaasaktam muktaih nirvishayam smritam

Mind alone is the cause for liberation and bondage.
When the mind is craving for sense objects, it is in bondage & when it is not craving for sense objects – it is in liberation.

Chittameva hi samsaaro tat prayatnena shodhayet
Mind alone is the cause of Samsaara or bondage. It is removed through effort from the individual.

Yoga Vasistha says
Chit chetya kalitha bandhah tanmuktaa muktiruchyathe
Chit achetya kila atmethi sarva Vedanta sangrahah

Consciousness when through ignorance gets mixed with (seems to get mixed with) thoughts is called bondage & liberation from thoughts is freedom or liberation.
Consciousness without thoughts is called Atman or Self – this is the essence of Vedanta.

Thus, realization is already there but it has been veiled by ignorance by which a person superimposes the unreal and illusory things of body and mind over the sentient Self. Removal of these wrong notions is called realization.

Thus, realization is being established in the Self. Each moment the person forgets this ultimate reality that “I am the Self or Consciousness”, he is facing the illusory world and sorrow-sufferings from the world. Thus effort must be always towards being established in the natural state of the Self. Established in the Self is nothing but being the Self, knowing that there is nothing here but Self alone.

Knowing thus the definition of realization, it is very easy to understand Maharshi’s current sloka. Establishment in the Self is the ultimate aim of human life through which alone a person can get eternal bliss inherent in the Self. The happiness that one gets from the external world are only temporary and hence unreal – they cannot give eternal satisfaction or perfection to the individual. The only thing which is capable of giving eternal bliss is the Self which is the very nature of a person.

When a person starts from his house and reaches office – he always has a bit of uneasiness until he reaches back home. One may sleep in a five star hotel bed but still the happiness got by sleeping in the bed at home is different and superior only. This means that whatever is not natural to oneself, that will not give eternal bliss but only anxiety and incompleteness. In deep sleep, everybody rejoice in the eternal bliss inherent in the Self (at that time when there is nothing but the Self only). This shows that natural state of Self is one without a second, the state where there are no thoughts & where one abides as “I” and not as “I am the body or I am the mind”. This is what is termed by Maharshi as being established in the Self.

The very scientific theory of inertia plays here also. Wherever there is deviation in the form of thoughts and actions, there anxiety also arises because one is not in his natural state of Bliss. Thus, abidance in the natural state is vision of one’s own real nature of Self of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This abidance when not mixed with any thoughts is the vision of the ultimate reality knowing which there remains nothing else to be known.

Maharshi also states the ultimate reality that the Self is one without a second. Abidance in the Self can give eternal happiness only if there are no external objects to divert the attention. We find the various objects in the world diverting our attention in the states of waking and dream. But the real state of the Self is non-duality which is experienced during deep sleep. Only when there are no dual things can a person rejoice in the eternal bliss inherent in the Self (because at that time there will be no divertions).

The scriptures proclaim thus that the world that one sees is nothing but Consciousness or Self alone. When the Self is known in its entirety, the world loses its stature – it becomes as unreal as the mirage seen in desert, as snake seen in rope, as the dream world. That person who realizes the Self realizes that the mirage seen in desert is nothing but desert only – the dream that is seen is nothing but the dreamer alone, the snake seen in the rope is nothing but rope alone. Knowing thus, a person always abides in the Self and this is called vision of the Self, realization, liberation, jeevanmukthi etc.

Adi Sankara thus says in Brahmajnaanaavalimaalaa
Ghada kudyaadikam mrittikaa maatrameva hi
Tadvad Brahma jagad Sarvam ithi Vedanta dindima

As pot, wall are all nothing but mud alone (with a name and form which is illusion in the reality of mud), similarly the world is Brahman alone – this is the statement of Vedanta or Upanisahds.

When this ultimate reality is known through the process of Self-Enquiry which Maharshi so elaborately and logically discussed till now, abidance in the Self becomes as natural as breathing. It is really a pity that the natural state of Self has to be realized through effort!!!!! That’s where the Brahmic power or Maya comes into picture.

Vedanta system according to Sankara is wrongly being termed as Mayavada. Sankara never put forth a theory about Maya but said that the world is only an illusion in Brahman and as all illusions are nothing but the reality alone, therefore Sankara put forth the theory of BrahmaVaada where everything is nothing but Brahman alone. This is the ultimate reality of one’s own nature – one already is Brahman or Consciousness alone, one without a second. This reality has been forgotten and hence one has to constantly abide in the Self of the nature of Consciousness. Constant effort needs to be put to set aside the ignorance that I am not the Self & always reside in the ultimate reality through contemplation that “AHAM BRAHMA ASMI – I am Brahman” – CHIDANANDA ROOPAH SIVOHAM SIVOHAM – I am that Self of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, I am the Self – one without a second.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Jnaana Yoga

Maharshi is expounding the path of knowledge in the last 15 slokas from 15th to 30th sloka of Upadesa Saram.

There is a very wrong notion among people that Jnaana is very tough and only devotion or karma will suitable for laymen or normal people. This is not right. The scriptures and Maharshi also proclaim that realization of the Self can be had only through knowledge of the identity of Brahman with the individual Self or Consciousness. There are no two different paths towards the ultimate reality. Even though the paths of devotion, action, yoga and all are there – they all unanimously lead to the ultimate path of Knowledge.

The various paths are all followed in order to get eternal bliss and to get rid of the sorrows-sufferings. Upanishads proclaim that these sufferings are not real, they are only illusions in the Self which seem to be present due to ignorance of the real nature of Consciousness. If these sufferings were the nature or quality of the jeeva or one’s own Self, then they must be present in deep sleep also. But in deep sleep, there is no suffering or sorrow. This only shows that the sufferings are temporary and seem to be present only for some time. And if we see, great Mahatmas suffer more than we do. Ramana Maharshi had cancer and he suffered from it for the last few years of his life. Jesus Christ was crucified. Krishna was chased constantly by Kamsa and Jarasandha. Sri Rama was sent to forest and had to be separated from Sita Devi. A person might now say that Krishna, Rama, Jesus are all stories only. In the first place, these are not stories but real incidents. But even if they are stories, they point out that suffering and sorrow are not internal in the person – they are only creations of the illusory mind. We see Tapovan Maharaj, the guru of Swami Chinmayananda suffering from cancer – these great saints never worried about their sufferings, instead they were much happier than the millionaires of their time. Swami Vivekananda went to US and lost his Visa and money also. Even before sanyaas, he suffered from poverty in his family. But still he was happy.

These are only historical events or stories but real incidents which have happened in the recent few centuries. All these show that sorrow is not the very nature of the Self or one’s own nature – but it is only creation of the mind. If these great saints could live happily amidst sorrows, then why can’t we????

The only reason why these great saints were happy is that they knew the ultimate reality of oneness with Brahman – they knew that they are not the body but the Self of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. This is the absolute and ultimate reality knowing which alone a person can conquer sorrow and sufferings which are only illusions.

The very famous and most preferred Bhakthi Yoga or devotion path is not seeking an external God, but it is contemplation of the God in the heart, seeking of one’s own real nature of God or Consciousness. Until this God in the heart is sought out, all search will continue and go in vain only. That is the real devotion wherein a devotee seeks only the God and finds out that the Lord is not different from me but my own very nature. This is what all great scriptures and Mahatmas proclaim. When the scriptures proclaim that “SARVAM BRAHMA MAYAM JAGAT”, it means that whatever is present is Brahman alone (Consciousness) in the form of illusions of the world. Any illusion cannot be different from the reality and hence is reality alone perceived wrongly.

The great Narayana Sookta says
“Yat cha kinchit jagat sarvam drishyathe srooyathe api va
Antar bahih cha tat sarvam vyaapya narayana sthithah”

That whatever is present as the world which is seen and heard – it is pervaded internally and externally by Narayana – the ultimate Being of Brahman. Here external and internal means that there is no difference and no duality which again point out that the Self or Consciousness alone is everything.

This is what all great scriptures and great Mahatmas proclaim that everything is in you only and everything is you only – there is no duality here and you are the ultimate and absolute reality of Consciousness or Brahman or God.

The path of knowledge is the ultimate and the easiest also. Isn’t it easy to know our own nature??? Yes, that is what includes in the path of knowledge. Isn’t it tough to contemplate on a God (the contemplator being Consciousness) who is sitting somewhere else (leaving behind the natural state of Consciousness or God in us)???? Yes, of course it is.

People think that Jnaana is suited only for the intellectuals, but this is a wrong notion only. The path of knowledge is suitable for anyone who wants to know the reality as the reality and not the reality as a form and name of Vishnu or Siva. Every name and form is bound to change is not the reality but only an illusion in the reality. What is required in the knowledge path is to realize one’s own real nature which has been forgotten. Because of this ignorance, one thinks he is the devotee and the Lord is someone great and unattainable. Maharshi has very well refuted this in the previous two slokas wherein he mentioned that whatever is present is Consciousness or the Self alone. There can never be a independent God who doesn’t depend on the Self or Consciousness because such a God will be dependent on Consciousness alone for his existence – neither Vishnu nor Siva can give a person existence other than Consciousness. This ultimate reality that all Gods, all beings, all plants and other things are all Brahman or Consciousness alone is what the path of knowledge tells us.

Path of knowledge doesn’t put forth many long procedures to the reality but just says three things to do.
Hearing of the scriptural statements about one’s own reality
mentally reflecting the truth of the scriptures in order to avoid and remove doubts
contemplate on one’s own real nature so that ignorance veil is removed.

These are the only three things mentioned in the scriptures for the path of knowledge. These are not tough but in fact easy. In order to understand the scriptures which are very tough, Acharyas have written Sanskrit commentaries which have been translated in almost all the languages. As if that is not enough, Sankara has given us easy and simple contemplative works like Ekasloki, Bhaja Govindam, Nirvaana Shatkam among others. As if that was still not enough, people like Ramana Maharshi have spoken to devotees in order to clear their doubts and show the path to all other normal people.

If we still do say that knowledge is tough for me, then not even Brahman or Consciousness can help the person realize his own eternal reality of Brahman itself.

One never needs to study the chaturdasha vidyas, the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and other tough works. Every work of Sankara tells the same theory in different ways. A single work of Upadesa Saram which Maharshi has written is enough to lead the seeker to realization. The only thing required is little effort and time from the seeker to devote in listening, reflection and contemplating on this ultimate reality that everything is Brahman alone.

If even that is not possible, a person just needs to see oneness everywhere. This itself will lead one to the ultimate reality of non-dual Consciousness.

Every Mahatma says that all paths lead to the ultimate step of non-dual knowledge (knowing one’s own real nature of Brahman or Consciousness). Any path a seeker may take according to his nature, but ultimate that will lead him to this ultimate reality of Knowledge or jnaana that “I am Brahman, one without a second”.

Srimad Bhagavatham which is considered a text of Bhakthi by most people proclaims about itself in the last few slokas
Srimad Bhagavatha puranam amalam yad vaishnavaanaam priyam
Yasmin paaramahamsyam amalam ekam jnaanam param geeyathe.

Srimad Bhagavatha is that purana which is pure and liked by seekers of knowledge – wherein the ultimate knowledge of oneness is being propounded.

Thus, what is required from the seeker is just little effort to contemplate that “I am not the body, but I am Consciousness, one without a second. There is nothing here but Consciousness alone. As there is no duality, then how come sorrow or delusion – there is thus only Bliss, eternal Bliss”.

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 25

Vesha haanatah svaatma darshanam
Isha Darshanam Svaatmaroopatah

Word meaning
Vesha Haanatah – when the limitations or adjuncts of gross and subtle bodies are removed,
Sva atma Darshanam – that is one’s own vision (of the Self).
Isha Darshanam – This is vision of God
Sva atma roopatah – as the Self.

Sloka meaning
When the limitations or adjuncts of body and mind are removed, that is one’s own vision of the Self. This itself is vision of God as one’s own Self.

Maharshi here says that when the limitations are removed, the jeevatma which seems to be limited by the body and mind & which seems to be in bondage realizes its own real nature of Self or pure Consciousness. This Consciousness or vision of the Consciousness is vision of God (whose essence is Consciousness).

One should remember that what Maharshi and Vedanta wants to convey when it says that there is no real difference between Ishwara and Jeeva is that there is only one Consciousness which is absolute. It has no change, no qualifications, no limitations, no reflections because it is one without a second. There is nothing different from Consciousness so that it is limited or gets reflected. Therefore, there is really no difference between God and the individual and hence the difference is only an illusion created due to ignorance.

The moment a person whose real nature is Consciousness identifies himself with a body and mind, he seems to be converted or changed to a Jeeva. He thus considers himself as the doer of actions and enjoyer of actions. Due to the limitations, he finds himself as a mere individual with little-knowledge and not capable of attaining or realizing the Self (unless the grace of God is present). These thoughts are all illusions created because of the ignorance of one’s own nature of Consciousness. The moment a person realizes that I am not the individual, but I am pure Consciousness, one without a second, of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute – that very moment the illusory jeeva vanishes as limitations are broken off.

This only shows that the illusions of limitations are not real but only mere appearances in the reality of Consciousness. Even in usage of “I am the body, I am stout, I am thin”, the “I” remains the same without getting attached to the limitations of body, stoutness, thinness etc. This only shows that “I” am different from them and it is very well known that all these things dependent on “I” or Consciousness for their existence. If Consciousness is not present, then these cease to exist. But even when these are not present in deep sleep state, Consciousness is present. This clearly shows that these are dependent on Consciousness and are not real but mere illusions in the Consciousness.

Thus, when a person removes these illusions of limitations, what remains behind is the pure Consciousness – without any limitations. At that time, “I” remains without any qualifications of body, stoutness, thinness etc. This is the real state of “I” – without any limitations, without any superimpositions and hence blissful state of the Self. This natural state alone is capable of giving eternal bliss to the seeker. This is what naturally happens in deep sleep where all limitations are removed and the Self remains in its natural state of Consciousness. Therefore in deep sleep, eternal bliss is rejoiced and hence when one wakes up, he says “I slept well”. But in that state, there was ignorance in the form of unawareness of the bliss as he says “I did not know anything”. This ignorance causes the two states of waking and dream to be created and the Consciousness seems to become the Jeeva and suffers like anything.

The scriptures too proclaim that Ishwara and Jeeva are essentially the same only. These are indicated by the Mahavakyas used in the various Vedas.

The Rig Veda tells the Mahavakya or Prajnaanam Brahma or Consciousness is Brahman (here the jeeva can never be equal with Ishwara or Brahman because jeeva has limitations in its mind. Hence what is meant by Consciousness is pure Consciousness or the Self and not jeeva the Ego).

The Yajur Veda tells AHAM BRAHMA ASMI – I am Brahman (here also the “I” cannot be the jeeva as jeeva seems to be in bondage due to limitations which has its cause in ignorance. Therefore the “I” here mentioned is the essence of jeeva – the reality of Jeeva which is Consciousness without any attachments, identifications and limitations).

The Sama Veda tells TAT TVAM ASI – THAT THOU ART (the Guru tells the disciple that YOU ARE BRAHMAN, you are not the limited jeeva that you think yourself to be, you are not different from Ishwara or God because both these are mere illusions in the reality of Consciousness which is the essence of both Jeeva and Ishwara. Therefore that Consciousness YOU ARE ALREADY). It is due to ignorance that the difference seems to be present. When this ignorance veil is removed, the Self shines as Consciousness and as “I-exist, I-exist”.

The Atharva Veda tells AYAM ATMA BRAHMA – This Self is verily Brahman only.

These four statements are not statements prescribing any action but these are mere informative statement which tell fact about one’s own reality.

Krishna mentions again and again in Gita that Ishwara resides in the heart of people.

Ishwarah Sarva Bhootanaam Hridheshe Arjuna Thisthathi
God resides in the heart of all beings

Ye Bhajanthi tu maam bhakthya mayi te teshu cha api aham
Those who worship me with devotion (knowing me as the Self and essence of all beings), they reside in Me and I reside in them.

And Krishna means Paramatma or Brahman when saying the word “I” or “Mine” and not the mere form of Krishna.

The Lord cannot put it more clearly that that all beings reside in ME and I reside in all beings – this only means that everything is one thing alone. The ultimate reality of oneness of Jeeva and Ishwara cannot be put much more clearer than this.

This is what the Sruthi (Upanishads) and Smrithi (Gita) has to say about the oneness of both Ishwara and Jeeva. All logic also proves it that both these cannot be two different entities as they have to be Consciousness in essence because whatever is present is only Consciousness (as it is not Conscious, it has no existence and becomes insentient like a rock). All objects depend on Consciousness for their existence. As Maharshi himself has told earlier that Consciousness is the only object which illumines existence. Therefore any object has to have Consciousness as its essence in order for it to become existent.

Thus through logic also, we conclude that there is only Consciousness here in essence. The jeeva and ishwara are only names and forms of the one Consciousness. Our very experience also tells that we are the Ishwara or creator in dream state where we create a total world. This only shows that Ishwara is not different from jeeva & that it is only ignorance which causes one to think that jeeva is different from Ishwara. If Ishwara was different from jeeva, then Ishwara ceases to exist in deep sleep, whereas jeeva exists. This is the experience of every person that he sees or perceives nothing in the state of deep sleep where only the jeeva exists in his true state of Consciousness.

Thus the “I” which is pulsating each and every moment is the Consciousness. It is what is known as Brahman, it is what is called Jeeva, it is what is termed Ishwara. All these are different terms of the one Consciousness alone. Whatever is being perceived is only Consciousness. It is due to ignorance that duality is being perceived – the same Consciousness is being wrong perceived as dual objects. Similarly the difference between jeeva and ishwara is only in limitations and not absolute or essential. Essentially both are one and the same only.

Maharshi thus concludes about Jeeva and Ishwara that when the limitations are removed, one’s own real nature of Consciousness is realized which is termed as Vision of the Self. The vision of God is nothing but vision of the Self alone. Both are the same only in essential nature.

Only foolish people will spent time thinking that “I am limited jeeva, God is powerful, I should pray him, I should seek him and all”. The wise will never spent time on such activities and he will realize the reality of God present within himself, he will realize the ultimate reality that both God and Me are one and the same Consciousness alone.

As foams, bubbles (which denote jeeva) and ocean (denoting God) are water alone with a name and form, similarly both jeeva and Ishwara are Consciousness alone with different names and forms and different instruments of working in the illusory, empirical world.

The Vedas thus proclaim that everything is pervaded by God alone (here God is not meant as only the sarvajna ishwara but it is Brahman or Consciousness that is mentioned here). This is what the great Christ proclaimed that the kingdom of God is in you, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mundaka Upanishad
Vijaanan vidvaan bhavathe na athivaadi
The wise person who knows the reality never argues or enters into debates.

Thus a true seeker should put all his effort to realizing God in the heart, realizing one’s own real nature which is not different from God. Thus Maharshi stresses here that it is good to seek God in temples but that is not the final stage. The final reality of God or Consciousness or Brahman is in the heart – it is one’s own real nature. Thus a person should try to realize God in one’s own heart rather than searching outside.

Yoga Vasistha thus says
Samtyajya hrid griha eeshaanam devam anyam prayaanthi ye
Te ratnam abhivaanchanthi hastastha kausthubam

Those who after renouncing (or not seeking) the God in the heart (meaning one’s own Self) go after attaining other Gods, they are like people who having the Kaustubha jewel (very divine) in hand go after other diamonds (this jewel is very powerful and which Krishna wears in his heart).

Thus, Maharshi also says the same thing that a person has to realize the Self who is the same as God, jeeva, Brahman, Paramatman etc.