Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Pre requisites to Jnaana Yoga

Jnaana Marga is what we are discussing currently. As explained Jnaana is the ultimate or final step to realization. Jnaanam alone can give one eternal bliss because it is ignorance that causes sorrow and sufferings. It is ignorance that veils one’s real nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. Action arises out of desire and desire arises out of imperfection due to ignorance of one’s nature of perfect and FULL. Hence action has its cause in ignorance. Because of this reason, action cannot remove ignorance and will only add more ignorance.

Any amount of rituals or devotional activities or pranayama – are all actions only. Hence these cannot lead one to eternal bliss. Thus, Jnaana or knowledge about one’s own real nature of Absolute Being or Brahman is the one and only way to realize the eternal bliss inherent in the Self. All other paths lead to this final step of non-dual Knowledge and realization.

Sri Krishna ends the Bhagavad Gita by telling
Ithi Te Jnaanam aakhyaatam – Thus, I have explained Knowledge to you.

Srimad Bhagavatham tells in the last few slokas
Srimad Bhagavatha puraanam amalam
Yad vaishnavaanaam priyam
Yasmin paaramahamsyam ekam
Jnaanam param geeyathe

Srimad Bhagavatham, this purana, is devoid of impurities and is loved & dear to all seekers of reality and in which the ultimate and non-dual Knowledge has been told or portrayed.

Sarva Vedanta saaram yad brahma atmaikyatva lakshanam
Vasthu adviteeyam tannistham kaivalyam prayojanam

The essence of all Vedanta which is the non-dual reality & equality of Brahman and Atman is being propounded in Bhagavatham and a person whose mind grasps this reality attains absolute nature (which is the effect of Srimad Bhagavatham learning).

Thus, all Vedantic work propound Jnaana as the final goal to realization. The very famous Narayaneeyam of Bhattathiri which is considered one of the best Bhakthi book describing Krishna salutes Brahman (Nirguna Brahman) in the very first sloka itself.

Thus, the ultimate reality can be known through knowledge alone. All other paths of Sastra learning, devotion, Raja Yoga, action all leads one to the ultimate step of Jnaana. And by knowing this ultimate reality, a person gets liberated from the sorrow & sufferings which are illusory and caused due to ignorance about one’s own nature.

Similar to any other path, Jnaana or Brahma Jnaana also has some pre requisites. These have been put forth in the Upanishads and Sankara tells them as Four. These four qualities or pre requisites are called Sadhana Chatushtayam. A person who is endowed with these four alone can apprehend the ultimate reality of non-dual Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. If a person is not endowed with either of these, then his knowledge is not converted to experience & as a result doubts remain in the person. Thus, the non-dual reality behind the dual world is not known & hence a person thinks that the world he perceives is real & exists at all times. But when the person is endowed with these four qualities, he realizes that the world that he is perceiving is illusory like the dream world. The world is nothing but an illusion of names and forms seen in the reality of Self or Consciousness. When Consciousness or the substratum is not known, these names and forms seem to be real. But once this substratum is known, then the ultimate reality that the world is unreal and there is Brahman alone which is being seen as the world is realized. This is final aim of human life and the Upanishads. Only by knowing this non-dual reality, a person rejoices in the eternal bliss of the Self.

Let’s try to know the four qualities.

Viveka or Discrimination – A person should be able to discriminate between what is real and what is unreal. Real is that which stays beyond time and space. Real is that which never undergoes any changes. Unreal is that which is changing and which just seems to exist at one time. Real is the Self or Brahman alone. All other things – the world & its objects which include the body, mind, intellect, Ego – are all unreal because they keep on changing. Changing things require a substratum and that substratum is Brahman which is Sat or Real. But there can never be any changing things in changeless Brahman. Hence, the world and its objects are just illusions seen in Brahman. A person in the evening when light is dim sees snake in the rope. The rope here is Real and the snake is Unreal (because it never existed but only seems to exist when the person is seeing the rope. Even when the person is seeing snake, he is seeing the rope alone). Similarly Brahman or Self is Real and all other objects are Unreal.

Vedanta calls the real as Drik and unreal as Drishya (the Seer and the Seen – the Subject and the Object). In dream, the Subject alone is real – the objects are unreal and are just illusions seen in the Subject. Similarly the Drik or Subject or the Self alone is real and the objects or Drishya are unreal & just illusions seen in Drik or the Self.

Sankara defines Viveka in Vivekachoodamani as
Brahma Satyam jagan mithya ithi evam roopo vinishchayah
Soyam nitya anitya vasthu vivekah samudaahritah

Brahman is the reality, the world is only an illusion of names and forms – knowing thus clearly is called Discrimination between real and unreal or Viveka.

Vairagya or Dispassion – A person cannot get his concentration on the Self unless he gets dispassionate towards the external objects. The sense organs and the mind are always extroverted (it is their very nature to run towards sense objects). This extrovert nature can be stopped either by controlling them or by knowing that a higher pleasure or bliss is available in the Self (distinct from sense objects). The first method of controlling them will not reach its final stage unless the mind knows that there is something higher which has to be sought for getting eternal bliss. Only when a person knows that the Self alone has eternal bliss and hence it has to be sought – will the mind stop running towards external sense objects & sensual pleasures. Thus, Vairagya is an essential factor in spirituality. This vairagya as explained is of two types – Apara vairagya (lower) and Para Vairagya (higher). Apara Vairagya is got when a person loses his wife. This is temporary alone & born out of some deep sorrow or other temporary means. But Para Vairagya is strong and this is achieved when a person knows that Brahman alone is real & real happiness is achieved from Brahman alone. This is achieved when the person knows that the worldly sense objects give sorrow alone (in the initial stage, they will seem to give happiness but that happiness also is filled with sorrow because in future the same object will be expected to give more happiness – as the same thing enjoyed again and again will make a person boring). Thus Para Vairagya is to be developed in order to realize one’s own real nature of Brahman through the path of Knowledge.

Shamaadi Shatka sampatti – Six qualities of Shama, Dama, Uparathi, Titiksha, Sradhaa and Samaadhanam. Shama is inner peace of the mind. The mind needs to be calm always if the Self has to realized. The scriptures proclaim that the Self is realized only in a pure heart and the mind devoid of thoughts. This is possible only when the mind is calm. Hence this quality of Calmness of mind is essential in the path of knowledge. Dama is control of sense organs – the sense organs need to be controlled – they should not run voluntarily into external sense objects. They must be under the control of the mind & the intellect. Uparathi or self-withdrawal is withdrawing the sense organs and organs of actions from their respective areas of functioning (from the organs). This means control of the objects and trying to make the mind concentrate on the ultimate reality of Self. When the sense organs of perception and action are not directed towards their sense objects – then the mind is free to contemplate, reflect on the truth propounded by the scriptures. The five organs of perception are eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. The five organs of action are mouth, hands, legs, organ of excretion and reproductive organ. Titiksha is forbearance. When a person is following the spiritual path, he might encounter some strange problems which might arouse the anger of the person. Through anger the energy saved for spiritual purposes is lost. Thus, these are kind of testing which a person might encounter in the spiritual path. Forbearing those tests and considering as proving some insight into reality and making himself strong is one of the important quality required in the path of knowledge. Sradhha is faith in the scriptures as well in the words of the Guru (who is well versed in the scriptures and established in Brahman). Samaadhanam is tranquility – this is establishing one’s mind always in the Self. These six qualities are also pre requisites to the knowledge of Brahman.

Mumukshutvam or burning desire for liberation – a person if he doesn’t have any desire for liberation cannot get liberated through knowledge about one’s own nature. If a person considers himself happy in this worldly sensual pleasures, there cannot arise eternal bliss of the Self through liberation or realization. Hence burning desire for liberation is required in order to realize Brahman. If there is no burning desire, then it might happen that after two weeks – the passion will vanish & the person will move back to old ways. Initially, there will be lot of testing & in the initial stages – it might seem that one doesn’t get any improvement or perceives any changes towards realization. But one should not lose heart and pursue with contemplation on the Self. AMMA or Mata Amritanandamayi Devi says that Mumukshutvam should be like a fish struggling to get into water when thrown out of water. Sri Ramakrishna says that when a person gets the earnest desire towards God like a person yearning for breath when being put into water – he will soon realize God.

One may now ask, what is the use of all these pre requisites??
When a person gets all these qualities in himself, realization is not very far (here realization is meant awareness about the reality that I am not realized and not that the Self is now not-realized and will get realized). And if a person doesn’t have these qualities, then even though he would have learned the four Vedas and Chaturdasha Vidyaas – he will not be able to realize the eternal bliss inherent in the Self.

Will it take very long to get all these qualities & still longer for realization?? Hence, isn’t it better to go for worldly sensual pleasures or other paths of bhakthi where one can God very soon by earnest prayer???
These qualities are interlinked with one another. When a person gets Viveka, naturally he will develop Vairagya and Mumukshutva. Similarly, other qualities will also follow. Hence, if any of these qualities are present in a person, then other qualities will also follow soon. Sankara in Vivekachoodamani says that these qualities can be easily attained through the grace of a Sadguru. If a person believes and surrenders to a Sadguru, the Guru makes sure that the disciple develops all these qualities through silent transformation of Brahmic shakthi in to the disciple (here the Guru removes the obstacles to realization and thereby the qualities become prominent in the disciple & the disciple realizes the Self).

Worldly sensual pleasures can never give a person eternal bliss. They only seem to give one happiness but that happiness is temporary and will lead one to sorrow alone (this is the very experience of each person). Hence one should stop searching & going behind temporary happiness in the illusory world & turn one’s mind and efforts towards realization of the ultimate reality full of Bliss alone.

The form God that is being seen also is illusory alone. These are the very statements of the Upanishads as well as Bhagavatham and Gita too. Any name and form are unreal & the reality is Brahman alone. The form of Vishnu seen is in the mind alone & not external Vishnu. Even if a person sees Vishnu, Vishnu is not a person but only a post which is subject to changes in kalpas and yugas.

One sees the life of Bharatha in Bhagavatham. King Bharatha was very much attracted to Vishnu. And he used to see Vishnu daily & talk with him. He renounced his kingdom and stayed in a hut in the forest. Then one day, while doing morning prayers in the river – he saw a baby deer flowing in the water. He felt sad & that there is no one except him to look after the deer. As he did not realize the ultimate reality of formless Brahman but only realized Vishnu (form God), his concentration diverted into another form (that of the deer). All his time was spent on thinking and looking after the deer. His end was nearing & he realized the mistake he did and tried to concentrate on Vishnu. But here also, he did not realize the ultimate reality behind names and forms. Thus, the deer came & stood in front of him. He left his body thinking about the deer. And hence he was born as a deer. But because of his previous birth meditation, he realized & was very much devoted to Brahman. Thus, in the next birth – he became Jada Bharatha & realized the ultimate reality.

Therefore, any form and name are unreal and illusory. They have Consciousness or the Self as their substratum. If Consciousness is not known, then there is no use seeing any form whether it be of Vishnu or of Siva. But, if Consciousness is known as the substratum of Vishnu or Siva, then the ultimate reality is known & the person rejoices in the eternal bliss of the Self.

Thus, a person who is endowed with Sadhana Chatushtayam is the adhikari or eligible for knowing Brahman or the Self. This is what the first Sutra of Brahma Sutra explains.

Athah atho brahma jijnaasa – (the first Athah – tha is tha as in haathi and tha in atho is tha in tam).

Now, therefore the enquiry into Brahman is started. Here, Now means after achieving Sadhana Chatushtayam. Therefore means since other means of action etc have been tested & they don’t give eternal bliss.

Thus, it is advisable for a seeker to develop these qualities so that the ultimate reality of one’s own nature of Brahman is realized.

Let us all try to have some of these qualities so that it may help to realize the ever-realized Self.
From tomorrow we will start the path of knowledge propounded by Maharshi (from 16th sloka to 30th sloka).


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