Wednesday, March 08, 2006

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.


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