Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 22

Vigrahendriya praana dheetamah
Naham eka sat tad jadam hi asat

Word meaning
Aham – I of the nature of pure Consciousness (am)
Eka sat – one and only Existence or reality.
Vigraha indriya praana dhee tamah – the bodies, sense organs, vital force, intellect and ignorance
Na – not me as
Tad jadam – they are insentient
Hi – and hence
Asat – non-existent

Sloka meaning
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.

This sloka’s meaning is very deep and in this sloka and the next, we can find the essence of Upanishads.

Vedanta splits the experience field of each person into two distinct entities. One is the Drik or the Seer and the other is Drishya or the Seen. These two can be translation into English as the Subject and Object.

The Consciousness or “I” is the Subject of all objects which might be the body, the various sense objects in the world, the sense organs, the mind or the intellect. All these are objects alone for the Subject of Consciousness or “I”.

All these objects require a subject for their existence. They cannot exist of their own. They require “I” for their existence & hence they are dependent on “I” for their existence. That which exists of its own is called a sentient thing. That which depends on another object for its existence is called insentient (that which cannot experience its own existence). We can very well understand here that “I” or the Subject alone is sentient and the objects are all insentient.

A little investigation into Subject and the objects will show that objects are in fact non-existent. The objects are insentient and hence they are mere appearances or illusions in the Subject (seen due to the sentience of the Subject). This is very well known through the dream experience. The objects in dream are all insentient which seem to be sentient because of the sentience of the dreamer. Therefore, we say that the dream objects are unreal and illusions in the dreamer or the Subject alone.

Similarly the various external objects seem to be sentient because of the sentience of the Seer or Consciousness. If Consciousness is removed or Consciousness denies to accept the objects, the objects cease to exist. This only shows that the objects are mere illusions which no existence at all – but seemingly existing for the present time because of the sentience of Consciousness. If Consciousness rejects those objects through the mind, the objects will vanish off. This is what is experienced in deep sleep where Consciousness is present but the external objects are absent and therefore non-existent.

Hence, Maharshi says the Upanishadic truth that whatever is insentient is non-existent – whatever is JADAM or insentient is an illusion seen in the reality or the sentient thing of Consciousness. These insentient objects are just names and forms of Consciousness. Names and forms never create any new object but they are mere illusions seen in the reality of Consciousness. As gold chain, gold necklace and gold ring are GOLD alone – similarly the world and its objects which are insentient are mere names and forms of Consciousness. Only fools will consider gold chain, gold necklace and gold ring as different from each other but the intelligent goldsmith knows them to be GOLD alone. Similarly the ignorant fool alone considers this world of duality to be a reality but the intelligent person (endowed with the truth of the reality through study of scriptures) will consider the duality as only names and forms of Consciousness and hence unreal.

Therefore, Maharshi says all the objects ranging from the body, the sense organs, mind, intellect, ignorance are all insentient and hence unreal or non-existent. Since I am of the nature of Existence (as each moment the pulsation occurs that “I-exist, I-exist”), I am not the body and the various insentient objects. Hence I am of the nature of Existence or I am the ultimate reality.

Let us now try to analyze the various insentient objects mentioned by Maharshi in this sloka.

Body – A person or the individual jeeva has three bodies. The normal body that is present in the waking state is called the gross body or Sthula Sareera. The body that we have during dream is a different body formed out of thoughts and vasanas which is called subtle body or Sukshma Sareera. The body which is of the nature of ignorance and which the jeeva has during deep sleep state is called kaarana sareera or causal body. This is called causal body as it is of the nature of ignorance and this ignorance is the cause for the other two bodies and bondage, suffering. I cannot be the three bodies. These bodies are insentient as after a particular time, the gross body is present but nobody wants to go near it & it becomes a mere dead corpse. Therefore, I am something different from the body as the body is insentient but I am sentient. Also, these three bodies keep on changing but “I” remain the same and am the constant changeless Consciousness. They are a group of people who are mentioned in the history called Charvakaas who considered the body as the Self or I. Another set of charvakaas used to consider the vital force as the Self and yet another set of charvakaas used to consider the sense organs as the Self or I. Maharshi is here refuting the common notion that “I am the body” as the body is insentient whereas I am sentient. We all are now partial Charvakaas considering “I” as the body and nourishing the body, protecting it very well and forgetting that the body is only an insentient object used by the Subject or the real “I” which is the Self or Consciousness.
Sense organs – there are five organs of perception and five organs of action to the individual jeeva. These are instruments which help the Self or Consciousness or “I” to perceive objects and to do various actions. The five organs of perception are Eyes (help in sight), Ears (hearing), Nose (smell), tongue (taste) and skin (touch). The five organs of action are hands, legs, speech, organ of excretion and organ of reproduction. Today I see the computer screen in front of me. Tomorrow, I come and touch the computer screen. Yesterday the organ used was eyes and today it is skin. This very well shows that the same I that saw the screen today touched it. Hence, I cannot be the sense organs. This is how the Nyaya saastra and logicians prove that the Self is not the sense organs. Maharshi says that the sense organs are also insentient. This is very well proved through the experience of deep sleep where there are no sense organs but only “I”. Hence the sense organs are not Me.
Vital force – vital force is termed as Prana in Vedanta. Prana is further divided into 5 according to the various actions performed. They are Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyaana. These five help in preserving the vital force in the body and making the body live. Hence, this very well shows that there must be something which controls this prana – that which helps to do pranayama. That is “I” or Consciousness. Pranayama would not be used if I were Prana. Also it is very well known that the vital force is of the nature of movement or energy whereas “I” am always constant and without changes. Therefore I am not the Prana also.
Intellect – Dheeh or Intellect is of the nature of determinations. When there are doubts, the intellect is the internal equipment which determines what is right and what is wrong. I cannot be the intellect because I am that which is determining. The intellect is just an equipment for determination – hence there must be a subject which determines the intellect which I am. This also means that the intellect is an object and hence insentient (all objects are insentient and the Subject alone is sentient and therefore really existent).
Ignorance – the Mimasakaas or the people following the ritualistic portion of Vedas say the Self is of the nature of ignorance as experienced in deep sleep. This is not true because ignorance in itself presumes a person who is ignorant or who is experiencing ignorance. This Subject I am and not the object of ignorance. I am limited by ignorance during deep sleep and hence I don’t feel the happiness during that state. This doesn’t mean I am ignorance or ignorance is my nature because if Ignorance is my nature then nothing can be known but I know objects. Therefore Ignorance is also an object for the Self or Consciousness which I am.

Thereby Maharshi goes from gross level of body to the subtlemost level of intellect and ignorance & asserts that these are not Me, as I am of the nature of Existence and sentience.

Therefore, we can say that the Seer or the Subject alone I am and this Subject alone is real – the objects are illusions seen in the Subject and hence unreal. This Subject is of the nature of Existence.

Now one may have the doubt, I have a Subject, you have another Subject & similarly aren’t there innumerable Subjects????
No, says Vedanta. The very nature of Subject is that it gives light to all objects. If there are two Subjects, then those two will become objects of each other & the Subject and Object cannot be the same object as light and darkness cannot remain in one place. Therefore there is one Subject alone (which Maharshi points out in this sloka). Our experience also proves this. The Subject of each person is Consciousness alone – this Consciousness is the essence of everyone and therefore in essence the various sentient Selfs or jeevas are the same but only the limitations or adjunctions of body and mind are different. Because of these various adjunctions, the essence or “I” seem to be different. But once “I” is realized, a person realizes that the other Selfs which seemed to exist are nothing but Me alone. Hence Vedanta says that there is One Consciousness alone which is my essential nature.
Maharshi thus said in this sloka that I am Existence in nature. Am I Consciousness also in nature & how do objects seem to exist even though they are all insentient?? These doubts are being answered in the next sloka by Maharshi which we will see tomorrow.


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