Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Various paths

Ramana Maharshi has, in this small work of his, propounded the various paths to the ultimate reality of non-dual Self.

What is the ultimate reality???
There is only one reality here. That reality is Self of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute. There is no separate reality other than this. One may call this by different names of Bhagavan, Ishwara, God, Brahman, Atman etc. but all these mean the one same Consciousness alone.

This Consciousness is one without a second, there is only Consciousness present here. It is Consciousness which is seen or perceived as the world of dualities. The world is nothing but Consciousness with a name and form. Leave out Consciousness, the world ceases to exist. But if Consciousness is there, the world is there – even when the world is not present, Consciousness is present. It is the only reality. As various ornaments of gold-ring, gold chain and gold necklace are nothing but GOLD alone (the names and forms are mere illusions in the reality of Gold in this example), similarly the world is nothing but Consciousness alone (with a name and form which are mere illusions in the ultimate reality of Consciousness).

This Consciousness is not something different to be attained or achieved either here or here after (in the other worlds). But it is one’s own nature. Everyone is Consciousness alone. A person is already Consciousness alone. Some people who are aware of this are called realized people and those who are unaware of it think that they are the body and the mind.

It is ignorance of the real nature of Consciousness which causes one to forget the reality that I am Consciousness and due to this ignorance, superimposition of the body and the mind on “I” occurs. This causes one to tell that I am the body and the mind. This superimposition or identification causes all the problems and sufferings in the world. As the ignorance of the rope causes snake to be superimposed on the rope which in turn causes fear of the snake, similarly ignorance of one’s own real nature of Consciousness causes one to forget his own real nature and superimpose the body and the mind over Consciousness which in turn causes sorrows and sufferings.

Thus, it is very clear on how to realize the Self or remove sorrow and suffering. There is one and only way to realize the Self – the way to realize one’s own real nature through knowledge about the Self (one’s own real nature).

The various paths lead only to this final step of knowing that I am the Self because that alone is realization or liberation or mukthi or moksha or freedom.

Now with the above concepts in mind, let us try to analyze the various paths that lead to the end of non-dual Knowledge.

Karma Yoga – Path of Action – Action has its cause in desire and desire arises out of ignorance of one’s own real nature. Therefore action has its cause in ignorance. Since ignorance is the obstacle for realization, action cannot give realization. But the reality is to be apprehended through a pure intellect or mind alone – as the face is seen only in a pure mirror. Therefore purity of mind is a pre requisite to realization of one’s own real nature. Action done without any expectation and as an offering to the Lord purifies the mind. A purify mind is eligible to know its own real nature of Self – hence it again leads to realization or liberation.

As Maharshi says in sloka 3
Ishwara arpitam na icchayaa kritam
Chitta shodhakam mukti saadhakam

Work done as an offering to the Lord and without any expectation purifies the mind & thereby leads to realization.

Krishna himself says in Gita Chapter 9
Yat karoshi yad ashnaasi yad juhosi dadaasi yat
Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tad kurushva mad arpanam

Whatever you do, whatever you offer as oblation, whatever you eat, whatever you give as charity, whatever austerity you do – offer it unto me.

Shubha ashubha phalairevam mokshyase karma bandhanaihi
Sanyaasa yoga yuktaatma vimuktho maam upaishyasi

Thus, he becomes free from good and bad fruits – and thereby out of the bondage of action, such a person thus becomes a renunciated and concentrated person & thereby that person gets liberated and realizes the Self.

This is the path of action wherein an individual performs action but remains unattached to it. This is the ultimate reality also – the Self is not at all doing any action & unaffected by fruits – it is only the Ego or identified “I” which becomes the doer or enjoyer. Thus, when a person does all actions and remains unaffected by it, he becomes neither the doer nor the enjoyer – this is the nature of the Self – thus he unknowingly he identifies himself with the Self (which is his real nature).

Thus, to sum up – karma yoga is doing action without expectations and as an offering to the Lord.

Bhakthi Yoga – the path of devotion.

Bhakthi yoga or the path of devotion is that in which the individual becomes a devotee of the Lord. He forgets everything and remembers just the Lord. Not a single moment passes by without remembering the Lord.

Narada says about Bhakthi in Narada Bhakthi Sutras
Naradah tu tad arpita akhila aachaaratha tad vismarane parama vyaakulathe.

Narada defines Bhakthi as – offering everything unto the Lord and forgetting whom the devotee becomes completely uneasy or desperate.

Bhakthi is not just going to temples or remembering God for just twice a day. Devotion is rememberance of God at all points of time, considering God as the ultimate goal and trying to proceed towards that goal.

There are two types of Bhakthi – lower devotion or Apara Bhakthi, higher devotion or Para Bhakthi. In lower devotion, the devotee feels the difference between himself and the Lord whereas in higher devotion the difference vanishes & only the Lord alone exists. Thus, Maharshi also said the same thing that instead of concentrating or having devotion that God is different from me, I am that God is better. As Krishna has said in Gita that God resides in the heart of all beings. God is the very nature of all human beings. When that God who is present in the heart is prayed upon, then the devotee knows nothing but the Lord alone. Thus everything becomes the Lord alone. Thus, slowly the difference of devotee and Lord vanishes & Lord alone remains behind of the nature of Self or Consciousness.

This path is most liked by people because it doesn’t require any knowledge or intellectual work. But this is a wrong notion – even the person who is following this path will have to reach that step where he will have to know that the God whom I am praying is in my heart & he is my very nature only. Thus, devotion is only the means to the ultimate step of non-dual knowledge.

Raja Yoga – path of control of mind.

In this path the seeker gains control of the mind through control of the breath. The breath and the mind are interrelated – when the breath is controlled, the mind becomes controlled.

But here also the mind only becomes dormant at times of Samadhi – whereas after some time it creeps up again. Thus the only way to remove the mind is to destroy it through the thought of One Self. Only when the mind is destroyed, the Self or its Source is realized. This is what the path of Raja Yoga does. Even in this path, after control of mind, the mind has to be destroyed through contemplation on the ultimate reality of I am the Self or ONE ULTIMATE REALITY alone.

Jnaana Yoga – path of knowledge.

In this path, the seeker studies the ultimate reality put forth in the scriptures. He realizes that the world is an illusion in the ultimate reality of Self or Consciousness. The world is nothing but Consciousness alone with names and forms. The names and forms are mere illusions in Consciousness. The example for this is the dream world where the dreamer sees a world and the objects which are nothing but the dreamer alone.

In this path the seeker asserts that I am Brahman or Consciousness through removal of all not-Self things and finally ends up with the Self or Consciousness. The mind and the Ego – the two main manifestations are the causes of all problems. When the source of the mind and the Ego are searched for – they vanish and the Self alone remains. This is the path of Enquiry into one’s own real nature. This alone is the final step to realization – this alone can confer eternal bliss to the individual who seems to be an individual but is the total universe also. The universe is thus only Consciousness and an illusion in the individual. This reality alone can lead one to cessation of sorrow and eternal bliss.

Thus when the Self which is beyond knowledge and ignorance is KNOWN as one’s own real nature, all sorrow and sufferings vanish as the Self alone exists of the nature of Bliss. The various objects of the world as well as the sorrow and sufferings are only illusions seen in the reality of Self. These are only mere dream objects – this waking state is a long dream which is seen by the Self which is a mere witness to all the activities. The Self seems to get affected by the dream world but it is not at all affected – it remains like the Sun to all world activities (the Sun is not at all affected by the activities in Earth, similarly the Self is not at all affected by the activities on Earth). This is the ultimate reality behind the temporary happenings in the world.

Maharshi thus in this small work of Upadesa Saram has propounded beautifully all of the above four paths and asserted that all these different paths lead to the non-dual knowledge, the non-dual reality that I am the Self – one without a second.

God, Self, Brahman, Paramaatman – all these only different names for the ONE reality.

Srimad Bhagavatham says
Vadanthi tat tattvavidhah tattvam yad jnaanam advayam
Brahma ithi Paramaatma ithi bhagavaan ithi shabdhyathe

Those who know the Reality tell that the Reality is non-dual Knowledge (Consciousness or Self). This is variously called by people as Brahman, Paramaatman, Bhagavan (God).

Thus, the reality is ONE alone. But it is denoted in various terms as water is denoted by Jala, Payah, Vellam, Thanni, Paani etc by different people. Knowing this reality which is one’s own real nature is the aim of life, it is the highest goal to be realized. This alone can confer one eternal bliss inherent in the Self.

Let Maharshi’s grace fall on each one of us so that we may realize our own real nature, the God in us, the Prana which is the manifestation or Atman or God – and thereby rejoice in the eternal bliss inherent in the Self.
Let AMMA’s grace fall on each one of us so that we may relish in the eternal bliss inherent in the Self.
Let us all try to implement whatever Ramana Maharshi has explained in this work of his so that it leads us to the real and natural state of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.

Yad ajnaana sambhootam indrajaalam idam jagat
Satyam jnaanam sukha anantham tad aham brahma nirbhayam
-- Govindananda in his Bhashya Ratna Prabha sub-commentary on Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashyam (commentary).

That whose ignorance causes the world like a magic show, that Brahman or the nature of Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Infinite and Fearless I am.

Kaayena Vaacha Manasaindriyair va budhyaatmana va prakrithe svabhavaat
Karomi yad yad sakalam parasmai naaraayanaayethi samarpayaami

Whatever I do through action, words or thoughts with the Ego or the Intellect & out of impulse – I offer all those to Narayana (the Supreme Lord who resides in the heart of all beings).

Any work remains unfulfilled and incomplete unless it is offered to the Lotus feet of Guru. Hence I offer this small verse on the Lotus feet of my Guru, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi.

Sadgurum yam varnyathe Vaasisthe
varnyathe vedaanthe Brahma ithi
Krishnam tu varnyathe Uttama ithi
Tan namaami Amriteshwaree.

That Amriteshwari (Mata Amritanandamayi Devi) who is called as Sadguru in the Yoga Vasistha, Brahman in the Upanishads, in Gita by Krishna as Uttama Purusha or Purushottama --- to that Devi I offer my prostrations.


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