Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Jnaana Yoga (Path of Knowledge)

Maharshi explains the path of Jnaana or Knowledge in the last 15 slokas of Upadesa Saram.

Vedas or scriptures are split into two parts. One is the ritualistic portion which is called Karma Kanda and the other is knowledge portion which is called Jnaana Kanda.

This Jnaana kanda portion is the Upanishads. The theory propounded by the Upanishads is called Vedanta and these Upanishads themselves are called Vedanta. There are mainly two reasons for calling Upanishads Vedanta. The first reason is Upanishads form the last part of any shaaka of the Vedas. Hence they are called end portions of Veda or Veda antha. The second reason is Upanishads provides a person with knowledge about the Self. This knowledge when known, there remains nothing else to be known. Therefore the knowledge of the Upanishads puts an end to all knowledge or craving for knowledge. Therefore Upanishads give one the end of knowledge attaining. Veda means knowledge and Antha means end. Hence Upanishads when learnt in the proper sense puts an end to all knowledge.

Vedanta tells that the ritualistic portion full of action cannot give one eternal bliss or liberation. This has been put forth by Maharshi in the first 2 slokas of this work. But ritualistic portion helps in the purification of mind (when done with the proper attitude). Only when the mind is purified, can a person realize himself to be the source of the mind and the abode of eternal bliss. Therefore Karma Kaanda are preparatory for Jnaana Kanda. If a person who has not attained purity of mind reads the Upanishads, he will not be able to grasp the truth completely. Such knowledge will become mere book learning and incomplete. Such people are harmful to the society as they themselves are in ignorance and they guide other peoples to such ignorance also!!!!

Hence, purification of mind is a pre requisite for knowledge to become complete. But here also, the seeker should remember that any amount of action will not give liberation or knowledge of the Self. Self can be realized only through knowledge of one’s own nature and not through any other means. Action, Devotion, Yoga are all just different paths which ultimate leads one to the knowledge about one’s own nature.

Therefore, it is only through knowledge about one’s own nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute that all sorrow and sufferings vanish. The sorrow and sufferings are not real & are just illusions seen in the reality of the Self. Hence, the one and only way to eliminate this sorrow is to know the reality of these illusions – knowledge about the Self.

The Upanishads again and again proclaim in lot of places that it is only through knowledge that one attains eternal bliss inherent in the Self.

This path of knowledge is that through which a person is slowly taken to the ultimate reality of ONENESS.

The Jnaana part has mainly three steps. These are Sravana or hearing, Manana or reflection, Nidhidhyaasana or contemplation.

Sravana is hearing about the Self from the study of scriptures under a proper Guru or teacher. Here, the seeker clearly gains a knowledge about the Self and the ultimate reality that “I am that Self alone”.

When a person who has been used to calling the body and mind as the Self or “I” is told that “I am the Self”, lot of doubts will arise as to whether this is right. And a seeker may also have doubts regarding the various statements of the scripture. These doubts are removed through manana or reflection in the mind. A person after hearing the scriptures and about the Self should reflect in his mind about the reality with logic and thinking. This ultimately removes all doubts about the reality which the seeker had previously heard from the Guru.

Now, the seeker is clear about the reality but he hasn’t completely experienced the reality. Here by experience is meant only intellectual conviction and removal of sorrow. The Self is always the experiencer alone and can not be the object for experience. Only objects can be experienced – the Subject who is the experiencer of all objects can never be experienced. Therefore, here by experience – the intellectual conviction is meant which remains always and doesn’t leave the person even for a single moment.
For this intellectual conviction to come, ignorance must completely vanish. Ignorance or the veil over the Self is removed through contemplation on the reality – Nidhidhyaasana. This contemplation when pursued for a long period will result in the removal of the ignorance veil and hence the person will realize the eternal and inherent bliss of the Self.

What is Jnaana????
Jnaayathe anena ithi jnaanam – knowing this or the Self is Jnaana (by knowing which everything else becomes known).

There are many people who think that Upanishads and the Jnaana Path is not suitable for me – Bhakthi alone is suitable for me or Karma is alone suitable for me!!!!

The Upanishads condemn such people and tells that Jnaana is the one and only way to the ultimate reality. Whatever path a person follows, be it Bhakthi or Karma or Yoga – the final step to be taken is realization of his own reality of Consciousness. This ultimate reality can be known only through Jnaana and not through any other means.

It is common misconcept that Srimad Bhagavatham and Bhagavad Gita are Bhakti or Karma granthaas. A person when he studies these two works will come to know that both of these works propound Jnaana alone.

Gita tells in the 18th chapter
Ithi The jnaanam aakhyaatam – Thus I have explained knowledge to you.

Sarvam Karma Akhilam paartha Jnaane parisamaapyathe – O Arjuna, all actions terminate or get destroyed in Knowledge.

Yatha edhaamsih samiddhognih bhasmasaat kuruthe tathaa
Jnaanagnih sarva karmaani bhasmasaat kuruthe tathaa

As fire burns the wood into ashes, similarly the fire of Knowledge burns actions and its fruits into ashes.

Thus, both of these so-called Bhakthi Granthas propound Jnaana alone. We have very well seen that Bhakthi and Jnaana are not two separate paths but are one and the same alone (in the 7,8,9 slokas of Upadesa Saram).

Thus, it is only through knowledge about one’s own reality that the sorrow and sufferings which are illusions on the Self vanish.

A person can very well understand that when his natural state is that of Bliss alone. This is why everyone needs to sleep and in deep sleep, there are no external objects & the person remains in his natural state of Bliss. The bliss of the deep sleep state lasts for the whole period and the person even remembers it after waking up. This is the natural state as everyone wants to sleep and only after sleeping, the person gets energized. The Upanishads also speak the same thing and experience also tells us the same. But, when a person wakes up into this waking world – sorrows come along. When a person analyses the cause of this sorrow, he finds out that it is ignorance about the real nature of oneself that sorrows arise. We have seen people like Ramana Maharhi, Swami Vivekananda and current saints like Sri Sri Ravishankar and Mata Amritanandamayi Devi always happy. They are never sad even though they also live in the same illusory world that we live in. Thus, if we analyse, we find that it is ignorance about the Self that causes all sorrow. This ignorance has two powers. One is the avarana shakthi or veiling power & the other is vikshepa shakthi or projecting power. The veiling power veils the Self and the projecting power projects other illusions over the veiled Self.

When both these powers are overcome, a person realizes his own very nature as Blissful. This is possible only when ignorance is removed. Any person can realize for at least a second that the Self or the real Consciousness or “I” is blissful only. This is the reason why everything else is renounced for the sake of the “I”. This “I” is the dearest thing for any person. A thing can be dearest only when it has bliss because man is trying to get happiness from external objects & happiness is the ultimate aim of any person. Therefore, this happiness is inherent in the Self or the man itself but he is unaware about the inherent bliss in him. This ignorance can be removed only through knowledge about the Self and not through any other path.

Thus, the path of knowledge says that a person is the eternal reality of the illusory and unreal existences in the world. The various objects that are being perceived in the waking as well as dream state are unreal and are superimposed on the reality of the Self or Consciousness. This reality when known all sorrows vanish. When the reality of rope is known, the illusory snake vanishes & the fear that arose because of seeing the snake in the rope also vanishes. But an intelligent person after realizing the reality knows that there never was any snake but only the rope existed.

Similarly the world is nothing but Brahman alone. Whatever is being perceived, whatever is not being perceived is Brahman alone. The objects that are perceived are unreal as names and forms. But since they are names and forms of Brahman or Consciousness, they are real. Thus, the world is nothing but ONE Brahman alone. When a seeker advances further, he realizes that there can never be names and forms in Brahman – the names and forms perceived are unreal alone – As Brahman is without parts and one without a second – there can never arise duality out of Brahman. Thus, the dualities perceived are unreal. The eternal reality is Brahman alone and that Brahman I am of the nature of Existence and Consciousness.

This is the only way to get rid of illusory sorrow and sufferings. This ultimate reality of ONENESS is being propounded in the Upanishads through various examples and various explanations. This Upanishadic knowledge has been propounded by Maharshi in the next 15 slokas in beautiful verses with lot of import and in a simple way.

Sankaracharya says in Brahma Jnaanavalee Maala
Ghatkutyaadikam sarvam mrittika maatram eva
Tadvad brahma jagat sarvam ithi Vedanta dindima

Pot, wall are all Mud alone (meaning they are names and forms of Mud alone and names and forms never exist separate from the reality). Similarly the world is Brahman alone – this is what Vedanta is telling at the top of its voice.

Brahma Satyam Jagan mithya jeevo brahmaiva na parah
Anena vedhyam sat shaastram ithi Vedanta dindima

Brahman is the ultimate reality, world is an illusion seen in Brahman. The individualistic jeeva or Self (who finds himself as part of the whole world) is Brahman alone & not different from Brahman. By knowing this, the eternal reality of Truth or Existence according to the scriptures is known – so says the Vedanta.

Thus, each and every one of us are Brahman alone, one without a second. We are the Self of the nature of Absolute Existence, Consciousness and bliss. There is no ignorance or sorrow in Me. I am the Self, one without a second. Whatever is being perceived, whatever is being enjoyed is the Self alone – nothing but the Self alone.

There is nothing apart from Consciousness here and it is one without a second. Such a thing cannot have any dualities & since there is no duality, there can never be likes and dislikes. Since likes and dislikes are not there – there can not be sorrow or happiness – but only eternal bliss.

Chidananda Roopah Sivoham Sivoham – I am that Self of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, I am that Self.

Jnaana or knowledge is knowing the ultimate reality. Jnaana is knowing that by knowing which everything else becomes known. Thus, knowledge is knowing the absolute reality.

What is the nature of this absolute reality???
The absolute or ultimate reality is the final or Supreme Cause of whatever is being seen.
Any object seen now must have a cause. When we see a pot, we know that it’s cause is mud. That which has come out of the cause is called Effect. When we trace back from effect to cause, we realize that there should be a final cause from which the world and all the objects have come.

Thus, scriptures proclaim that it is Brahman or the Supreme Cause from which all objects come. The effect that is being seen now can not be different from the cause (the effect of pot is not different from cause – when a person analyses one sees that pot is nothing but name and form of mud alone). Therefore, the effect is a transformation of the cause. The effect that we see now, the world, must have a substratum or a being who controls it. We see the Sun and the moon moving as if being controlled by someone. We know that if there is no BOSS for a person, he will not do work & at times leave home early. Therefore, it is the BOSS who controls the work of the person and ensures that the person is working. We see in the world that Sun, moon, stars are all moving and working efficiently (without any haulage or leaves like we take J). Thus, we can infer that there must a person who is controlling the world. This person cannot be different from the Supreme Cause & as it is already proved that the effect is not different from the cause – therefore the world or the effect resides in the cause. Hence, the Supreme Cause is that in which all objects are established (the abode and support for the effect of the world). The effect of the world must also perish like any effects. We observe that the pot dies off and merges into its cause of mud. Similarly the world merges into the Supreme Cause.

Thus, Taittiraya Upanishad says
Yena sarvaani bhootaani jaayanthe
Yena jaataani jeevanthi
Tad vijijnaasasva tad brahma ithi

That from which all the beings have come, that in which all the born beings live, that into which all these beings merge – that is to be known – that is Brahman.

Now, we have reached the final or Supreme Cause from which the world is born, in which the world resides and into which the world merges.

Now, let us analyze the nature of this Supreme Cause. This Supreme Cause cannot be born (as if it is born, then this will cease to be the final cause and there will another cause for this cause). As it is not born, it has no death. That which is not born and has no death cannot have any changes or modifications. It is very well known that all that is born undergoes changes and finally dies. Therefore, this Supreme Cause has no changes also. It has to be non-dual alone. If there is something different from this Supreme Cause, then there should be another cause which is the cause for both these things (either related or non-related). If that be the case, this Supreme Cause will cease to be the Supreme Cause. Hence, this Supreme Cause is non-dual and one without a second.

There are mainly two theories of causation. One of the theory is the theory of Transformation or Satkarya Vaada or Parinaama Vada. The other theory is theory of independent creation or Asatkarya Vaada or Aarambha Vada.

Theory of transformation says that the cause is transformed into the effect. The example for this is transformation of curd into milk. This theory is not possible for the Supreme Cause. Any cause can be transformed only if it has parts because only that which has parts and which undergoes changes will have transformation. But the Supreme Cause is without changes and hence without parts also (any object which has parts is subject to change like the tree which has parts like branch, flower etc). Therefore, there cannot be any transformation in the Supreme Cause. Thus, this theory of causation or creation is not possible for the Supreme Cause.

Theory of Aarambha Vaada says that the objects are created by themselves through a creator who is different from them. A pot is created from mud through mixing of the mud but by the efficient effort of a potter. The world is created from atoms or Pancha bhootas by the efficient effort of the Creator or God. This theory is also not possible for the Supreme Cause as the Supreme Cause is one without a second & hence there can never be any Creator or God separate from it. Also this theory says that it is internal configuration of the atoms that causes them to move into motion and creation starts thus. But since the Supreme Cause doesn’t have any internal parts, this is also not possible.

Thus, there can not be any creation or causation from the Supreme Cause. Thus, we come to the conclusion that there can never occur any effect from this Supreme Cause of Brahman.

Now, one might completely feel confused then as to why the Vedas tell about the Supreme Cause and creation etc.???? and also if there is no creation, then what is being seen now???
As has been proved earlier, there can never be any creation from Brahman of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This takes us to the only possible conclusion that the effect is not a real transformation but apparent transformation of the final cause. This theory of apparent transformation (meaning no real transformation has happened but only apparent appearance as if transformation has occurred) is called Vivarta Vaada. The example for this is seeing snake in the rope. The cause of rope has not transformed into the snake. But the snake seems to exist in the rope because of ignorance of the nature of the rope. Thus, the effect of snake is illusory and hence unreal alone.

Thus, the world that we see is not a real transformation of Brahman but an apparent illusion seen in the substratum of Brahman or Consciousness.

How can one prove that the world is apparent transformation of Brahman alone???
When Consciousness or Brahman is present, the world is present.
If Consciousness is removed, the world is not present.
Even if world is not present, Consciousness is present.
This takes us to the conclusion that the world is nothing but an illusion seen in Brahman alone. And as proved earlier, there can never be any change or transformation from the Supreme Cause.

Experience also proves this. In the state of dream, a person sees himself in a world & enjoys in the world as if it were real. But when he wakes up, he realizes that there never was any world created nor did he enjoy anything. If a person thus compares it with the waking world, he realizes that both are very much similar. And hence, the waking world is nothing but an illusion seen in Consciousness or Brahman as the dream world is an illusion seen in the dreamer.

Now, one may tell that the difference between dream and waking world is that the waking world is continuous (that is after waking up from dream, the same condition and state of the person is maintained) but that is not the case with the dream world.
In answer to this doubt or objection, Gaudapada Acharya in his Gaudapada Karika says that the objection is wrong. Even in dream world one can have another dream and such worlds can also be enjoyed inside a single dream world. Thus, we will have continuity in the dream world inside the dream world. This doesn’t mean that the dream inside the dream world is real but only that it is real for the timeperiod.

Any object is called real only when it exists for all the three time periods, It should exist beyond time and space. There is only one such reality which is Brahman or Consciousness alone.

Thus, the world that is being perceived is seemingly existent in the substratum of Brahman. And for the same reason, it is nothing separate from Brahman.

Now, in order to explain to the beginner about the world, it is said that the world is nothing but names and forms of Brahman. Any name and form are unreal and are nothing but the object alone. The gold necklace, gold chain all are GOLD alone. The names and forms are unreal only. Similarly the world which is name and form of Brahman is unreal in name and form. But the world is nothing but Brahman alone. It is One Brahman which is being perceived as duality even as the dreamer becomes the dream world & its objects.

Thus, one comes to the conclusion that everything is Brahman alone. Even logic or reasoning proves that it is Consciousness which is being seen as the external objects.

Now, the Consciousness that is present in each body cannot be different from Brahman since Brahman is also of the nature of Consciousness. Therefore this Consciousness which is termed as Self is same as Brahman. One may now have the doubt then that there are many Selves or Consciousnesses??? But this is wrong. Consciousness is that which becomes conscious of objects. The Subject can never be an object and hence the Consciousness is ONE alone. Therefore, the Consciousness is different bodies are one and the same only.

As explained earlier, everything is Brahman alone. This ultimate reality that “I am Brahman” is not known due to ignorance about one’s own nature. One may ask here “what is the cause of ignorance”??? Sankaracharya says that it is futile to find the cause of the ignorance which in itself is illusory alone. What is needed to be done is realization of the reality that “I am Consciousness, I am Brahman distinct from the body and mind”.

The ignorance that is now obstructing the realization of the ultimate reality of Supreme Cause alone being present is in the form of wrong knowledge. When the reality is being obstructed, the reality is perceived as something else. Therefore, the Self or “I” is thought as the body. Hence a person when being asked “who are you” replies that “I am Hariram and working in Infosys”. Hence, in order to remove the ignorance, one has to remove this wrong identification. The body is not real but is only an apparent appearance in the reality of Consciousness. There is no body in the deep sleep state but still I am there. There is no gross body in the dream state but still I am there. Hence, I am not this body. Similarly the mind which is ever changing I am not. I am the Self distinct from the body and the mind.

For any changing illusory objects, there has to be a changeless substratum. Hence for the changing body and mind which are illusory (as has been proved earlier), there is the substratum of Brahman or Supreme Cause.

Hence, when a person clearly identifies himself as the substratum or witness of Self or Consciousness or pure “I” in the illusory world and its experience – he realizes his oneness with Brahman. Such a person is not at all affected by the activities that might happen in the world or the body because he knows them to be illusory alone. This doesn’t mean that everyone should renounce from this world and take Sanyaas and go to Himalayas for doing penance and don’t care for the body J But this only means that the person is not affected by the activities happening with the body (because he knows that the body is illusory and not real – the reality is Brahman or Consciousness alone which he is).

When thus a person realizes that he is the witness of the illusory world – he realizes the ultimate reality that everything is Brahman alone. He realizes that the body which is seen and the world that is perceived all are Brahman or Consciousness alone. Thus, he realizes the ultimate reality that there neither was any creation nor can there be any creation & that everything is Brahman alone.

Just to mention here that this state of realization the ultimate reality that everything is Brahman should not be blindly followed. One should first realize the reality of the illusory world and then realize that everything is that reality alone. Instead of this, if a person blindly tells that the body is Brahman only and hence he spends most of his time on treating the body and making it beautiful, he enters into blinding darkness alone. To such a person, if the body gets a wound – he will start crying aloud. But for a jnaani, he knows that the body is unreal as body and real as Brahman and hence he will not at all be affected by the state of the body.

Thus, the ultimate reality or the Supreme Cause is Brahman and that Brahman I am, one without a second. The various objects that are being perceived are unreal and are nothing but illusions seen in the reality of Brahman or Consciousness or “I”.

Thus, knowing this reality is called Knowledge and this path of knowing the reality is called Jnaana Yoga or path of knowledge.

Jnaana is tough to apprehend as it mainly stresses the illusoriness of the world. Normal people are so used to the world and its objects that they can’t even imagine that the world is illusory and unreal. Hence, this path of Jnaana is tough to be followed. Krishna himself mentions in Gita Chapter 12 that worship of the Nirguna Brahman is tough for those who have the feeling of embodiment (who have body-consciousness).

Ramana Maharshi beautifully explains this path of Knowledge in the next 15 verses which are simple and have depth in meaning. These if memorized and regularly chanted as well as implemented or realized will lead one to realize the absolute reality that “I am the Supreme Cause from which no effect or world can be created”.

Gita explains about Jnaana in Chapter 4
Na hi jnaanena sadrisham pavitram iha vidhyathe
Tat svayam yoga samsiddhah kaalena atmani vindhathi

There is nothing more pure or sacred than knowledge – because that knowledge when supported by establishment and practice of it, will make a person realize his very Self in due course (within a short time).

We will try to learn tomorrow more about the path of knowledge and the various means or pre requisites to it (according to the Vedanta or Upanishads).


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