Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 23

Satva bhaasikaa chit kvavetharaa
Sattayaa hi chit chittayaa hi aham

Word meaning
Satva Bhaasikaa – To illumine Existence or Sat,
Kvava ithara – where is another thing
Chit – (than) Consciousness? (there is not any other thing)
Hi – Because
Sattayaa chit – Existence is Consciousness,
Hi - and
Chittayaa aham – I am Consciousness.

Sloka meaning
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.

Maharshi here is pointing out the two characteristics of the Self or “I” which are not a quality like cowness or potness but these are the very nature of the Self. These two lakshanaas of the Self are Sat and Chit (Existence and Consciousness).

Let us analyze the perception of a pot by a person.
The Consciousness which is the essential nature of a person falls on the object which is pot here and illumines the pot. Thus, the pot gets its existence due to the Consciousness of the person. This is the case with external objects. If Consciousness denies to accept the pot, the pot ceases to exist & has no existence at all. This is the reason why at some times, we walk in the road but forget to notice our friend coming the opposite way. It is only when the friend stops us and says HELLO, we see him and he exists for us. Thus, it is Consciousness that illumines Existence.

Let us analyze our own very nature of Self which is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute.

That object is existent which has the independent experience of “I-exist, I exist”. This experience is possible only when the object is Conscious of its own existence. Therefore, Consciousness and Existence are not different things but they are the very nature of the Self or “I”. I exist because I am conscious of my existence. I am conscious because I exist. This is what Maharshi says here that Consciousness is that which illumines its own existence as well as the existence of other objects.

The great Upanishadic verse found in Mundaka, Katha and Svetashwatara Upanishad says
Na tatra sooryo bhaathi na Chandra taarakam na ima vidhyutho bhaanthi kutoyam agnih
Tameva bhaantham anubhaathi sarvam tasya bhaasa sarvam idam vibhaathi

The Sun doesn’t shine there (in the Self), neither does the moon or the stars. There the lightning also doesn’t shine, then how can Fire shine??? It’s own shineness others follow (meaning that it’s illuminations others take from it) and it shining others shine.

This is what is mentioned by Gita in Chapter 15
Na tad bhaasathe sooryo na sashaanko na paavakah
Yad gatva na nivarthanthe tad dhaamah paramam mama

There the sun doesn’t shine, neither does the moon nor the fire. Reaching where there is no return, that is my eternal abode.

Yadaaditya gatham tejo jagad bhaasathe akhilam
Yat chandramasi yat cha agnau tat tejo viddhi maamakam

That which is shining in Sun, that which makes the moon shine & the Fire shine – know that illumination to be MINE.

Wherever Krishna mentions “I” or “ME”, it means Brahman or the Self and not the physical form of Krishna or chaturbhuja Vishnu. These are all names and forms which are prone to birth and death which happened to Sri Krishna also. This eternal rule of anything with a name and form subject to birth and death is applicable even to Mahavishnu or any other God. The only being devoid of birth and death is the Self or Brahman. Krishna himself mentions in Gita

Avajaananthi maam moodaah manusheem tanum asritham
Param bhaavam ajaananthah mama bhoota mahesvaram

Those are FOOLS who consider me as being embodied (either as Krishna or as Mahavishnu). They don’t realize my eternal form of the Lord of the senses and without birth (which is the Self or Brahman alone). Thus wherever Krishna mentions as “I” or “ME”, it is not either Krishna or Vishnu but Brahman or the Self alone.

These are very clear examples that Krishna says that Consciousness is what makes objects exist – objects doesn’t exist apart from Consciousness. The world and its objects have no existence devoid of Consciousness. It is Consciousness or “I” which makes objects visible and existent. The moment a person becomes unconscious, the world ceases to exist. One cannot say here that “The world is present but it is not perceived – absence or non-perception doesn’t mean non-existent”. Such doubts are raised by ignorants alone. That which is not perceived is non-existent alone. If this is not agreed, then the world becomes full of gandhaaraas and kinnaraas and one has to agree that there are many elephants sitting next to my computer even though I don’t perceive it. There are various instruments of knowledge through which objects can be known as really existent or not. None of these proofs are valid without the Subject of Consciousness. These proofs of perception, inference etc. depend only on Consciousness.

It is good to remember that Consciousness is the only thing which is independent and hence really existing. All other things depend on Consciousness for its existence and hence are an illusion in Consciousness alone (which seem to appear and then vanish as if they were not at all present). The body that we are proud of was not present yesterday, it seems to be present today & disappears tomorrow. Doesn’t this show that the body is only an illusion in Consciousness? It only seems to exist temporarily due to ignorance about the reality of Brahman or Consciousness or the Self.

Thus, any object is only Consciousness and it is Consciousness which is shining through the various different and dual objects in the world. This is what Maharshi means by the first line of this sloka that “What indeed can illumine Existence other than Consciousness”. This question itself has the answer in it that there cannot be anything apart from Consciousness which can illumine or illumines Existence. Therefore Consciousness is the ultimate reality and everything else is only an illusion in Consciousness.

As a person exists as he is conscious of his existence – therefore Existence and Consciousness are not two separate qualities but they are inter related to each other. That which really exists has Consciousness or rather that which really exists is Consciousness alone. That which is Conscious of itself is Existent. Both these qualities are the very nature of “I” – the “I” which never ceases to exist even if Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are destroyed – even if Bill Gates dies – even if Tsunami hits the Earth – even if one is at the death bed – even if one is in the state of waking, dream or deep sleep. Thus the Self which is our own very nature is Consciousness and Existence.

That’s why Maharshi says that Existence is Consciousness and Consciousness I am – meaning I am Existent also. I am not the soonya or non-existant voidness propounded by the Madhyamaka Buddhists. Even if there is a state of voidness – that state can be accepted only if void exists & this will make void lose its status of voidness. And also voidness requires a Subject who sees the voidness – and this Subject is Consciousness which will make void lose its status of voidness. Thus, this Consciousness is the very nature of everyone.

We all are Consciousness. This Consciousness is not of the nature of sorrow but its nature is eternal happiness or Bliss. This is the bliss which we enjoy in the deep sleep due to removal of dual perception. But in that state, there is a veil of ignorance which causes one not to be aware of the experience during that state. But when one realizes his own very nature of Consciousness, all sorrows vanish and Bliss alone remains. This Consciousness is now not known and “I” now am the Ego which gets identified with various non-existent and illusory objects. This identification or superimposition is what causes differences and dualities. These dualities lead to likes and dislikes. These in turn lead to attachment and aversion which in turn lead to sorrow and happiness. Thus, the very root cause of sorrow and suffering is the superimposition which is caused due to ignorance about one’s own very nature of Consciousness or pure and unattached “I”. The moment a person realizes this eternal and ultimate reality that “I am Consciousness”, all sorrows and sufferings which are illusory in nature vanish even as the moment the reality of rope is known, the illusory snake which was seen in the rope vanishes.
Then, there remains only eternal and pure Bliss inherent in the Self or Consciousness.

As Maharshi stresses in this sloka – there is only Consciousness here. This reality that whatever is seen is Consciousness alone and not different and dual objects dawns only when a person realizes his real nature of Consciousness. As the dream world is nothing but the dreamer alone, similarly the waking world is nothing but Consciousness alone.

Kaivalya Upanishad says
Mayi eva sakalam jaatham mayi sarvam pratishtitham
Mayi sarvam layam yaathi tad brahma advayam asmi aham

Everything is created from me, everything is supported or exists in me, everything gets destroyed into me – that Brahman of the nature of non-duality (one without a second) that I am.

That which is created from a thing, is present in a thing and gets destroyed into the thing cannot be different from the thing. Brahman or Consciousness is one without a second (there are not two Consciousness as in that case both would become Subjects and Objects which cannot possible be present in a single object). In such a Brahman or Consciousness which is devoid of any internal parts – there cannot be any creation or object in it – thus the creation is only a name and form of Brahman which are merely illusions created in the reality and perceived due to ignorance.

What is the cause of Ignorance and who has this ignorance (locus of ignorance)???
Ignorance has no cause at all – ignorance is neither real nor unreal. Any illusion can never have any cause. If it is said that the illusory snake is caused from the real rope, it is absurd as the real rope has never been turned or converted to the snake which is only an illusion. Thus any illusion cannot have any cause but only a substratum. This substratum is the real rope. Similarly the illusory world caused due to illusory ignorance doesn’t have any locus or cause. There can never be any answer to the question who had ignorance which caused the world – this question itself is absurd as the ignorance has no reality but is only an illusion in Consciousness. Thus, Consciousness is the substratum of the illusory ignorance and not the cause of the illusory ignorance (Consciousness or Brahman is said to be the cause of the world only to pacify the initial seeker and his enquiries about this world & since he is not suitable at the moment to reveal the ultimate reality that no world has been created).

Thus, the locus of ignorance or rather substratum of illusory ignorance is Brahman or Consciousness alone (this answer is valid only from the view point of the ignorant seeker). Once the reality of Consciousness is realized, that very moment ignorance ceases to exist & there is nothing but the Self alone – one without a second.

This is what Maharshi stresses in this sloka that “I am of the nature of Existence and Consciousness”. I am not the individual jeeva who thinks himself bonded and suffering – but I am the Self or Brahman of the nature of infinite Bliss. There is nothing different from Me – whatever is present is only Consciousness or “I”.

A seeker will have a doubt here that if there is only Consciousness, then what is the difference between ME and Ishwarah. Maharshi answers this in the next two slokas. If the “I” or “ME” is considered as the individual and illusory Ego – then it is different from the illusory Ishwarah as Jeeva is alpa jnaani whereas ishwara is sarva jnaani. But the essence of both Jeeva and Ishwarah is Consciousness or Existence. Thus, both are one and the same and it is ignorance about one’s own nature which causes this question to arise. (again the question of locus of ignorance is absurd here because there never was any ignorance, there never is and there never will be. It is only an illusion which makes ignorance to be present. Somehow, ignorance is being felt now – any illusion cannot be explained in any ways as to how it came about. The only thing that can be done in case of illusions is to find out the substratum for them. Thus, when the substratum for the illusory ignorance is found out as the Self or Consciousness, ignorance ceases to exist and only pure Bliss remains). We will take up the next two slokas tomorrow.


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