Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 19

Aham ayam kuto bhavathi chinvatha
Ayi patathyaham nija vicharanam

Word meaning
Kutah – From where
Ayam – this
Aham – I-thought
Bhavathi – is created or arises,
Chinvatha – thus for a person enquiring into it
Ayi – Oh!
Aham Patathi – the I-thought vanishes.
Nija Vicharanam – this is Self-Enquiry.

Sloka meaning
“From where this I-thought arises”, thus for an enquiring person, I-thought vanishes. This is Self-Enquiry.

Maharshi here explains how a person can follow the Ego or I-thought from which all thoughts arise to the pure I or Consciousness.

Each and every object in this world has been created from Brahman or Consciousness alone. This has been told in the scriptures as well as common experience also proves the same.

The world of experience can be split into two distinct terms or categories – the Conscious or sentient and the insentient. The sentient is also called Drik or Seer and the insentient is also called Drishya or Seen. A person can very well understand that the Seen depend on the Seer for their existence. If the Seer disappears, the Seen also disappear. But even when the Seen disappears, the Seer remains. Thus, Seer is the real thing and Seen is just an illusion seen in the reality of Seer.

Thus, the world comprising of the Seen is created or rather seems to exist in the Seer. Therefore, scriptures proclaim that from Brahman or Consciousness, all this world of duality or the Seen was created (here created only means a relative term which when viewed absolutely is only an illusion seen in the reality of Consciousness). Therefore, the source of the Seen is the Seer (again once has to remember that there never has been any creation so that the source of the illusory creation might be searched. As the illusory snake vanishes when its source of rope is found out, similarly the illusory world vanishes when its source of Consciousness is found out). Hence, to realize the Self, one has to enquiry into the source of the Seen – the objects.

As Maharshi explained in the previous slokas, the I-thought is the foremost of all thoughts. It is from I-thought that all thoughts arise. The first creation that arises out of Consciousness is the I-thought which is a limitation of the unlimited Self or Consciousness. This Consciousness gets limited to a body or mind or a thought and thus becomes the I-thought. From this I-thought, all creation of body, mind, the external objects etc get created. Hence, the ultimate aim of realizing the Self or pure “I” is through enquiring into the I-thought whose source is pure Consciousness alone.

This path is called the path of Enquiry – enquiry into one’s own very nature through the question “Who am I”. I am not this body because the body keeps changing but I am always stable. I say that I have hands, I have a body – therefore I cannot be the body. I cannot be the mind which is full of thoughts and hence changing. The thoughts require a thinker which I am. I am not the intellect because the intellect always tries to determine things – this determination requires a determiner. I am not the Ego or I-thought because Ego keeps on changing based on the limitations or adjunctions that are subjected to it. But I am always changeless, ever-eternal and ever-blissful. I am the Consciousness of the nature Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute – ever experienced by everyone.

Thus, the question “who am I”, when pursued in the right way will lead to the ultimate reality that “I am the Self”. When this ultimate reality is known, then the person realizes that the objects which were first negated as not Me, not Me are only illusions seen in the Self or Consciousness and hence they are not different from Consciousness. They are Consciousness alone but wrongly seen as the mind, the body and the external sense objects. Whatever is present is only the Self or Consciousness. There is nothing except Consciousness in this dual world. Whatever seems to exist, whatever is existing, whatever will ever exist – all are Brahman alone.

Narayana Sooktam
Yat cha kinchit jagad sarvam drishyathe srooyathe api va
Anthar bahischa tat sarvam vyaapya naaraayana sthitatah

Whatever is present in this world and are perceived through eyes, ears etc, everything is pervaded in and out by Narayana or Brahman itself. This only means that whatever is present is Brahman alone – there is nothing but Brahman alone.

Sankara says the same in Brahmajnaanavalee maala
Ghatkudyaadikam sarvam mrittikaa maatrameva
Tadvad brahma jagad sarvam ithi vedantha didima

As mud pot, mud wall – all are mud alone. Similarly the world is Brahman alone, this is the essence of Vedanta and what Vedanta is roaring out at the top of its voice.

Thus, when the path of enquiry is pursued – the ultimate reality of Self or Consciousness is realized, one without a second.

In fact, there is no enquiry required for the ever-realized Self. We all are that alone. But we have forgotten this ultimate reality through ignorance of our own nature. Hence, this illusory ignorance has to be negated through knowledge of one’s own nature. When the knowledge of the Self is contemplated and realized through enquiry, the illusory ignorance gets removed or destroyed. Thereafter, one sees the Self shining in its ever-realized state.

It is due to ignorance that sorrows and sufferings arise. This ignorance makes one think that he is imperfect and the strive for perfection continues. This strive is performed only in the external world of sense objects. We all sit in beautiful chairs and beautiful houses with all the external pleasures but having no peace of mind, contentment and happiness!!! Isn’t it a pity that the ever-realized Self that we all already are and still we are searching for realization? Isn’t it a pity that the perfect Self is searching for perfection in the external world forgetting its own very nature of perfectness? Isn’t it a pity that we all fight in the name of religion, power, money, caste and creed but still forget that all these are only illusions in the one Consciousness that we all are? Isn’t it a pity that we all struggle years to earn a name in this illusory world but forget to realize the ultimate reality hiding within and therefore seek to attain immortality after going to heaven? Isn’t it a pity that we forget our own real nature of distinct from body and that of Consciousness, but resist to remove the superimposed and wrong notion that I am the body and the mind?

The one and only way to sorrow is knowledge about one’s own nature. No God, no Mahatma can save a person from sufferings except through this knowledge of one’s own nature. The different paths of devotion, action, yoga and knowledge only lead one to this final state of non-dual knowledge or Enquiry into one’s own nature. There is no other way than this to immortality, to perfection, to the state of eternal bliss.

And as Maharshi mentioned a couple of slokas before, this path of Enquiry is the direct path. Any person who wants to overcome this world or samsara born out of IGNORANCE-DESIRE-ACTION or Avidya-Kaama-Karma and making him go from happiness to sorrow, sorrow to happiness has to come to this stage where he realizes his own very nature of Bliss and ever-realized Self.

Sankaracharya mentions that if something is attained new, then it will be lost also. Hence, immortality if attained new will be lost also. Therefore, the Self is already immortal – a person is already realized, only this knowledge that I am realized is veiled by ignorance. This ignorance needs to be removed by the knowledge about one’s own nature. And the path to it is Enquiring into one’s own nature through the question “Who am I” which when pursued consistently leads one to one’s own real nature of Consciousness.

This enquiry needs to consistently practiced until ignorance completely vanishes out & not even a single moment passes by without this ultimate knowledge that I am the Self. As everything is forgotten because of memory and the mind, this reality also might be forgotten after some time (because of the strong opposite experience that I am the body). Hence, enquiry must be pursued unless ignorance is completely rooted out.

Hence Upanishads say,
Nimeshaardham na thisthanthi vrittim brahma mayeem vina
Yatha thisthanthi brahmaadyaah sanakaadhyaah sukaadayah

Not even a single second should a person remain without the thought that “I am Brahman” – as Brahma, Sanaka and Suka all remain.

Thus, remaining as the Self at all times, ignorance completely vanishes and such a person realizes his own realized and liberated state even though he doesn’t want it.

Dehaatmadheevad jnaanam dehaatmajnaana baadhakam
Bhaved yasya na icchan api sa muchyathe

For a person who has the knowledge that “I am the Self” as a normal person has the conviction that “I am the body”, he even though not wanting gets liberated.

In the next sloka, Maharshi explains the state when this I-thought is removed. One may think that when the I-thought is removed, everything vanishes and therefore voidness alone remains. This is what has been construed by the Madhyamaka school of Buddhists who say that out of voidness everything came and the ultimate reality is void alone. In order to refute the theory of voidness or sunyavaada as well as to give the seeker a glimpse of how that state of ultimate reality would be – Maharshi puts forth the next sloka. We will cover the sloka tomorrow.


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