Friday, September 29, 2006

Analysis of Mahavakyas

5. Analysis of Mahavakyas

Coming to Mahavakyas and their analysis, we have already proved the importance of such an analysis which alone removes confusions so that they never ever arise in the mind…..

We will end this technical analysis of Mahavakyas by analyzing in brief the four mahavakyas of the four Vedas. we will just see the context in which they appear in each of the Upanishads.

PRAJNAANAM BRAHMA– this is the lakshana vakya or statement explaining the nature of Brahman. This occurs in the Aitareya Upanishad. The Upanishad starts by telling that before creation, there was the Self or Atman alone. The Self then “thought” and creation started. The Upanishads goes on to explain creation process in detail. At the end, the Upanishad gives a big mantra where everything is equated with Prajna or Consciousness. Then it is said that the world is seen through the eyes of Consciousness and everything is Consciousness alone. Lastly it says “Prajnaanam Brahma” – this prajna which was mentioned as everything is nothing but Brahman alone. Here the nature of Brahman as Conscious, self-existing, self-luminous and blissful entity is mentioned. As we have seen earlier, SAT CHIT and ANANDA all remain together only. Thus since Brahman is CHIT or PRAJNAANAM, therefore the lakshana or svaroopa of Brahman is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. Brahman is the same Consciousness that is present in each one of us – there is no “many” consciousness but only ONE Consciousness exists which is the “I”. Thus “I” am Consciousness or Brahman which is perfect and full. Thus there is no sorrow, no sufferings, no illusions, and no bondage for me – I am NITYA SHUDDHA BUDDHA MUKTA ATMA. This is what is the ultimate reality behind the illusory world that the seemingly limited “I” is the ultimate unlimited and non-dual reality of Brahman.

TAT TVAM ASI – this is the upadesha vakya or instruction statement from the Guru to disciple. The shishya of svetakethu went to gurukula for 12 years and came back but as a proud person thinking he knew “things”. The father Uddalaka understood the pride in his son and therefore asked him “Do you know that by knowing which everything becomes known, by hearing which that which is not heard becomes heard” etc. The child was perplexed and said “I don’t know that”. The child’s pride was gone and he had some knowledge – therefore he surrendered to the Guru and asked “tell me about that father”. The Guru then said that “as by knowing a piece of sand, all objects of sand are known – similarly the name and forms are only illusions – mud alone is real”. The Guru extends this to gold and iron piece too. What he is telling is that the world is names and forms of Brahman – names and forms are mere illusions and the reality is Brahman alone – that by knowing which everything becomes known. The child still doesn’t understand – hence Guru tells him in 9 different ways and examples that “Aitadaatmaiyam idam sarvam tat satyam, sa atma, tat tvam asi svetakethu” – everything has the Self as its essence – this reality is the TRUTH, that is the ATMAN or Brahman, THAT YOU ARE, O Svetakethi. Svetakethu couldn’t understand with one or two explanations and hence the Guru says in 9 ways until the shishya understands that “I am THAT”. This is why REPETITION is inevitable unless the seeker is well advanced and purified in mind so that once hearing itself will give realization. This mahavakya is important because it arises out of the mouth of the realized saint and thus has greater effect than a normal seeker like us telling it. Whatever Sri Ramakrishna or Ramana or AMMA says – we know it very well. But when they say, it makes us understand and follow it without any delay – whereas our intellect doesn’t help in that way – this is the difference between Kamal Hassan telling that “the saints tell that TAT TVAM ASI etc.” and AMMA speaking about it (no criticism meant for Kamal Hassan but it is the reality which cannot be denied). In this mahavakya the direct meaning of TAT is Ishwara with all-pervasiveness and all-knowing quality. The direct meaning of TVAM is jeeva with limited-pervasiveness and limited-knowing. ASI means identity which is impossible if direct meaning alone is taken. Thus since here the direct meaning proves wrong, therefore we have to take the indirect meaning only. The indirect meaning of TAT or indicated meaning is Brahman who is one without a second. The indirect meaning of TVAM is kutastha who seems to be limited but is never limited.

AHAM BRAHMA ASMI – this is the anusandhaana vakya or contemplative sentence --- initially Vaamadeva, the rishi did tapas and out of the tapas, he realized the reality that “I am Brahman” --- there requires not much explanation on the same. This statement is to be contemplated always. It is not mere contemplation but knowingly contemplating so that “since I am Brahman, I will not be affected by the sorrows and sufferings nor am I in bondage”. I am the ever liberated Brahman or Atman – whatever is seen is only temporary and illusion in the reality of Brahman which I am. IF I refuse, the world vanishes --- this shows illusory nature of the world.

AYAM ATMA BRAHMA – this is anubhava vakya or experience statement – experience means intuitive and subjective experience of one’s own nature & not objective experience like seeing pot etc. I am the Brahman who was being contemplated and meditated – who was mentioned as the ultimate reality by my Guru and of the nature of Consciousness. Since I am that, now there is no bondage. There is no effort towards contemplation too because I am already that – contemplation is only when difference is there but difference has vanished & only the Self exists, one without a second.

The above is just in short about the use of each mahavakya in realizing the ultimate reality that “there is only Brahman here and I am Brahman”.

Thus the mahavakyas never speak about the oneness of jeeva and ishwara but they speak about the oneness of Kutastha and Brahman only. Yes, they do indirectly and in a round-about way mention about the oneness of Jeeva and Ishwara as both are nothing but illusions in kutastha and Brahman (any illusion is real as the substratum and unreal as illusions). The mahavakyas thus shows that the kutastha which we all are – is Brahman alone when the limitations or adjuncts of body, mind are removed. Even when they are not removed, kutastha is Brahman alone as pot-space is infinite space. But when the limitations are removed, then the ultimate reality in its very nature is known as one’s own very nature of Self or Consciousness of Kutastha.

We have to thus remember the meaning of the mahavakya and knowing the meaning, contemplate on the truth put forth by the mahavakyas as the ultimate reality of Brahman which I am….. This will directly lead to realization which is nothing but removal of ignorance that “I am not Brahman, I am limited” etc.

With this, we come to an end to the analysis of Mahavakyas.

Interpretation of Mahavakyas as per grammar and other vedic rules

4. Interpretation of Mahavakyas as per grammar and other vedic rules.

Any sentence can be interpreted in different ways if it has many words of different meanings. We will be discussing as per Sureshwaracharya’s Naishkarmya Siddhi, Sadananda’s Vedanta saara and Laghu Vaasudeva Mananam.

There are three ways to interpret sentences by giving relationships between various words – these are:

Visheshya visheshana bhaava
lakshana lakshya bhaava

Vedanta saara quotes a sloka to tell about this as:

Samaanaadhikaranyam cha visheshana visheshyathaa
Lakshyalakshana sambandhah padaartha pratyagaatmanaam

The common example for all these is SOYAM DEVADATTA – SAH AYAM DEVADATTA – that is this devadatta. A person had seen devadatta long back and after so many years sees him in the market and therefore says “this is that devadatta”.

We will try to see each one of those with examples:

1) Samaanaadhikaranya --- here the different words used in the sentences give the same meaning or meaning of oneness. Both the words which mention unity or identity in them. Taking the example of “SOYAM DEVADATTAH” – “That is this devadatta”, the words SAH and AYAM refer unity or identity of DEVADATTA.

2) Visheshya visheshana bhaava – here one entity is the qualified and the other is the qualifier. For example “blue lotus”, blue is the qualifier or visheshana and visheshya or qualified is lotus. In TAT TVAM ASI, TAT is qualified by TVAM and TVAM is also qualified by TAT. Both ways there is this relation between both of that of qualified and qualifier. SOYAM DEVADATTA, here sah or THAT is qualified by the current devattata – and the current devadatta is qualified by the previous or old devadattaa.

3. Lakshana lakshya bhaava - This type of relation has three sub-parts for which we need to know two other terms of Vachya artha or mukhya artha and lakshyaartha.

Any word can have two meanings – one is direct meaning which is called vachya artha. The second is called lakshya artha or indirect meaning or intended meaning which is different from the direct meaning. For example the word sarvam brahma mayam, the word BRAHMA denotes Brahman as the direct meaning. There is no indirect meaning indicated in the word. Another rule over here is that only when direct meaning is not possible to be taken or proves to be illogical, the indirect meaning is taken.

Now, having known these two types of meaning of a word, let us see the three types of lakshana lakshya bhaava. Lakshana means the intended meaning and lakshya means that which is indicated.

Jahad lakshana – here the direct meaning is completely rejected as it is invalid and indirect meaning alone is taken. An example for this is “gangaayaam ghoshah” – goshah means hut and gangayaam means on the ganges. Thus if we take the direct meaning for the word gangaayaam, the meaning of the sentence will be “the house on the ganges”. This is illogical and impossible. Hence we have to take the indirect and intended meaning for the word ganga which is “on the bank of ganges”. Thus the sentence means “the house on the bank of ganges”.

Ajahad lakshana – here direct meaning is not completely rejected but another word is introduced to make the meaning logical. The example for this is “Harithah dhaavathi” – “Green runs”. Here meaning is illogical but the direct meaning of “green” cannot be ignored as in the jahad lakshana. Therefore the word “Asvah” is added to make the meaning logical – thus the meaning would be “green horse runs”.

Jahad ajahad lakshana – here the direct meaning is not rejected but indirect meaning is taken – this is done by removing that qualities or attributes of the two words which are contradictory and taking the essence or similar meaning. In SOYAM DEVADATTA, sah and ayam have different meanings of that and this. The contradictory factor here is time (prior and now). Removing the time attribute, what remains behind is the same devadatta.

Vedanta uses jahad ajahad lakshana also called as bhaaga tyaaga lakshana to explain mahavakyas. TAT has the direct meaning of IShwara who is sarvajna and sarvavyaapi. TVAM has the direct meaning of jeeva who is alpajna and alpavyaapi. Thus ASI is impossible for the two as both words are contradictory in direct meaning. Thus we have take the indirect meaning also into consideration. TAT has the indirect meaning of Brahman without any limitation and TVAM has the indirect meaning of Kutastha who also has no limitation. Thus here the contradictory qualities of jnaanam and vyaapya (for ishwara it is all-knowing and all-pervading whereas for jeeva it is limited-knowledge and limited-pervading), there remains only the same entity of TAT and TVAM. Thus ASI is valid in this case. Thus the direct meaning is not ignored but indirect meaning is taken and contradictory qualities are removed to show the identity of both the words of TAT and TVAM.

Thus Kutastha or limited space (pot space) is nothing but eternal and infinite space alone.

Thus says Vidyaranya in Panchadashi

Soyam ithyaadi vakyeshu virodhaat tadidamtayoh
Tyaagena bhaagayoh eka asrayo lakshyathe yathaa

Maaya vidhye vihaayaivam upaadhi parajeevayoh
Akhandam sachidaanandam param brahmaiva lakshyathe

As in SOYAM DEVADATTA, that “this” and “that” which are contradictory is renounced (tyaaga) and the unity of both parts (bhaagaas) is shown, similarly by removing the adjuncts of Maya and AVidya from Ishwara and jeeva respectively, non-divisible (AKHANDA) sat chit ananda roopa Brahman alone is indicated through the mahavakyaas.

So it is by using jahad ajahad or bhaaga tyaaga lakshana that mahavakyas are interpreted. As to how they are really interpreted, we will see that in the next posting. Hope everyone gets the concepts mentioned in the mail clearly since if this is not clear whatever we will be discussing next will not be clear.

Just for information, different sub-schools of Vedanta might interpret the mahavakyas as per jahad lakshana or jahad ajahad lakshana which is mentioned by Madhusudana saraswathi clearly in Siddhantha bindhu commentary on Sankara’s dasa shloki. We will not deal into such details because it will lead to confusion as it is only for advanced seekers who are going in depth into various advanced works on Vedanta like the Panchapadika vivarana of Prakashatman or Sarvajnatman’s Sanskhepa Shaareraka.

We have already almost discussed the meaning of Mahavakyas as per Jahad Ajahad Lakshana. But we will try to see it once again so that this repetition will make the concept clear and hence we may be able to contemplate on the ultimate reality propounded through mahavakyas.

It may be doubted here that “I have devotion for the Lord, so what is the need to know the mahavakyas and all these complex logics etc” J. I know that most of us will have this doubt because this particular series has been on a technical perspective with lot of terms. First thing we have to remember is that Sankara and other acharyas did not explain all these just for fun or time pass – they would have really found out that it is essential and hence explained it in many works. It is only when knowledge becomes perfect that a person can contemplate on the reality without any doubts & only then realization dawns – not through mere devotion without knowledge. If there is pure devotion, then the seeker will be taken through the Lord himself & “I” have personally experienced this in many cases (in my sister’s case as well as other cases too).

There are three obstacles to knowledge or jnaana becoming vijnaana or intuitive experience:

Samshaya – doubts as to whether the reality is as per what scriptures say or not – this is removed through sravana or listening of the scriptures with the six-fold imports (Shad linga which we will deal in this mail later).

Asambhaavana – I know that Brahman is the reality but still I see things and hence I doubt whether the world is illusory and Brahman alone is real. This is removed by manana or reflection as per logic in the mind on the reality which has been heard through sravana.

Viparyaya – wrong or adverse knowledge – this is in the form that there is no such Brahman which is beyond all duality and illusory world because I don’t experience it. This is removed through nidhidhyaassana or contemplation on the ultimate reality of Brahman.

These three obstacles have to be removed by the three steps of sravana, manana and nidhidhyaasana. Thus these three are inevitable. If it is said that Ramana Maharshi did not follow any of these because the sadhanas are only for baddha jeevas or seemingly baddha jeevas and not avatars who are beyond all normal categorization.

The six-fold lingas or marks to find out the import of a work or sruthi are:
Upakrama-upasamhaara – starting and ending of the work (what is mentioned in both the places)
Abhyaasa – repetition (the import will be repeated again and again)
apurvatha – that which has not been mentioned as such previously
phalam – the fruit is being mentioned as something great
Arthavaada – praising of the reality by either telling the good arising out when it is followed or bad when it is not followed or realized
Upapatthi – examples through various real-life scenarios and logical arguments

It will be kind of deviation if we enter into an analysis of the above six marks but we can take it for granted that the import of all scriptures is Advaita Brahman alone (these marks are clearly shown by Sadananda Yogindra in his Vedanta Sara which is available at R K Mutt).

Ishwara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat and Prajna, Taijasa and Viswa

3. Defnitions of Ishwara, Hiranyagarbha and Virat and Prajna, Taijasa and Viswa

The Upanishads make it crystal clear that before creation there was only Brahman or existence (nothing else). This Brahman “thought” or “imagined” and creation started. Of course, here Upanishads statement that “it thought” means that “it desired to become many” (eko aham bahusyaam). This is illogical and impossible for PERFECT Brahman and hence we have to understand that this “thought” is due to the illusory power of Maya alone. This is substantiated by Gita where Sri Krishna says that “I create things with the help of my MAYA”.

This MAYA is only an illusory power and composed of the three qualities of SATTVA, RAJAS and TAMAS.

Brahman when has the power of Maya is called Ishwara or Saguna Brahman (more analysis on the same while dealing as to how different systems of Advaita deal with Ishwara and Jeeva). Different sub-schools differ as to whether this power is a upadhi or the Ishwara itself is an illusion etc. These intrinsic details are not essential currently. We just have to remember that Ishwara is Brahman endowed with the power of Maya. Whether Brahman can be associated with a power is answered by adding the clause “illusory” (adjective) to the power of Maya.

This Ishwara endowed with Maya is the cause for creation. When creation starts, first it has to be developed into a subtle plane with the pancha tanmaatras of Shabdha (hearing), sparsh (touching), roopa (sight), rasa (taste) and gandha (smell) – this is not the primal elements that we perceive but these are the essence of the pancha bhootas. Before pancha bhootas have to be born, they have to be in a subtle state which is the tanmaatras. The Ishwara who creates the subtle entities along with the antah karanaas of mind, intellect, ego and chitta is called Hiranyagarbha also termed as Mahat tattva as per Sankhyan theory of creation which Vedanta almost accepts. Thus Ishwara who creates subtle things is called Hiranyagarbha or golden orb (that orb from which all things primarily come). This Hiranyagarbha or Mahat tattva is the first creation from the ISHWARA who then creates subtle things.

Subtle things cannot be really enjoyed and cannot exist as such unless they become gross. Thus the subtle elements become gross as the pancha bhootaas that we perceive. The Ishwara or that part of Ishwara who creates/identifies himself with the entire gross world is called Virat meaning BIG.

There is Virat as well as Hiranyagarbha upasana mentioned in the Upanishads. For eg: Isha calls Hiranyagarbha Upasana as Sambhooti upasana.

These are at the cosmic level and not at the individual level. Ishwara (who is at the causal state as he is endowed with Maya), Hiranyagarbha and Virat identify themselves with the cosmic or totality (as is the state – for eg: hiranyagarbha identifies with all subtle bodies and the subtle world itself).

We need to have the three mentioned Ishwaras or forms of Ishwara (not exactly form, due to lack of word am putting that word) – at the individual level too. This is what Vedanta calls as Vyasthi (individual) and Samasthi (cosmic) which is termed in Saaktha as well as Vedanta system as Pinda andam and Brahma andam (andam means body, panda means small or individual, brahma means total or cosmic).

Thus, the three states of Iswara are
Iswara – the Causal form
Hiranyagarbha – the Subtle form
Virat – the Gross form

To summarise, Iswara is the unmanifested form of Brahman. The unmanisfested or avayktam is manifested in the form of Hiranyagarbha or the subtle body. The world is created by Iswara and the creation happens in Hiranyagarbha. This creation is manifested externally through the gross body or Virat.

We need to have the three mentioned Ishwaras or forms of Ishwara (not exactly form, due to lack of word am putting that word) – at the individual level too. This is what Vedanta calls as Vyasthi (individual) and Samasthi (cosmic) which is termed in Saaktha as well as Vedanta system as Pinda andam and Brahma andam (andam means body, panda means small or individual, brahma means total or cosmic).

We have to start analysis of the individual jeeva from the same place we started for Ishwara. Thus Kutastha when associated with the power of Avidya or ignorance (ignorance of his own nature which causes identification or adhyaasa between not-Self and Self) is called Praajna. This jeeva is present in the deep sleep state where there is only ignorance and nothing else. This is called Kaarana Shareera of Jeeva which is the cause for other two states and jeevas. As Rajesh mentioned, Jeeva who identifies himself with the Kaarana Shareera is called Praajna. Now from this causal ignorance, there is desire arising. This happens at the subtle level with the dream world…….. The jeeva who identifies himself with the subtle body is called Taijasaa. The word means “illumining” representing or indicating that the jeeva illumines himself as self-luminous in dream (not requiring any other light in that state). Now, the subtle desires are made gross and gross body is formed. The jeeva who identifies himself with the gross body in waking state is called Vishwa (one who perceives the world).

Thus three states of Iswara are mapped to the three states of Jiva
Prajna – the causal form
Taijasa – the subtle form
Viswa - the gross form

Iswara creates the world using the power of Maya, Jiva experiences the world because of the Avidya. Avidya is the ignorance at the individual level and Maya is the totality of avidya.

During the waking state, Jiva experiences the world through the body, mind and the senses. The mind or the subtle body is the effect of the ignorance or Avidya. So during the waking state, desire comes in the mind because of avidya and this desire is put into action through the body, so the body acts as the instrument for the interaction with the world. The identification of Self with the gross body is called Viswas.
The identification of Self with the subtle body is called Taijasa. The experience of that one has during the waking state is projected during the sleep as dream. During the dream state there is no gross body, there is subtle body and causal body.
The identification of Self with the Causal body is called Prajna. The causal body is non-dual and this state of non-duality is experienced during the deep sleep. Since there is no duality during deep sleep one experiences only bliss during deep sleep. But still there is ignorance in that state.

Thus giving in simple form

State Ishwara Jeeva
Deep sleep Ishwara Praajna (one who is full of consciousness and knows himself)
Dream Hiranyagarbha Taijasa
Waking Virat Vishwa

The waking state is associated with the word ‘A’ of AUMKAARA (waking state means virat as well as vishwa and the gross elements too are meant).
The dream state is associated with the word ‘U’ of AUMKAARA.
The deep sleep state is associated with the word ‘M’ of AUMKAARA.

That which is beyond these three states is called Tureeya or ardha maatra of AUMKAARA – this is Brahman or Kutastha which is never affected at all and one without a second.

IT is the seeker’s practice or sadhana to merge ‘A’ to ‘U’, ‘U’ to ‘M’ and ‘M’ to ardha maatra (the analysis as to how this is done can be found in depth in Panchikarana of Sankara and the Panchikarana Vartika of Sureshwaracharya – if somebody requires this, we can discuss – else it requires some explanation and not dealt here).

Thus the seemingly appearing JEEVA or seeker or “I” who thinks himself as the praajna, taijasaa and Vishwa finding himself different from the respective Ishwaraas is liberated by realizing his own very nature of Brahman thereby realizing the reality that there is nothing here but Brahman alone, EKAM EVA ADVITEEYAM.

There are diverse opinions on whether IShwara is affected by Maya or not—as per Sankara, Ishwara is not affected but there are different schools who differ on the same. The seeker just needs to remember that “there is no difference from Ishwara and me – there is no Ishwara apart from me – then why should I really bother as to whether Ishwara is affected or not? Let me not come to any conclusions but have open-mind and if following the path of Bhakthi, accept Ishwara as Brahman without being affected by Maya…. If following the path of Jnaana, the world itself is merged into the seeker and hence Ishwara doesn’t have much workJ (Please take it in the real sense) --- let me decide on the same”.

As Chinmaya says “Vedanta is a subjective science” – most interpretations and concepts depend on the seeker alone. But this doesn’t mean the seeker can deviate a lot from the scriptures and acharyas but only that when controversial things come into picture and when the seeker seems to be kind of deviating from the acharyas, he can consult the Guru for the same or take that which seems probable or logical”.

Aatma, Paramatma, Paraatma and Sphurana

2. Defnition of Aatma, Paramatma and Paraatma and Sphurana

Atma – this is taken from the root “Aplru Vyaaptau” meaning “all-pervasive” – this is what Anandagiri gives in his Katha Upanishad tika to Sankara’s Bhashya on the same.

Sankara defines Atma in Katha Upanishad by quoting a sloka from Linga Purana as:

Yat cha aapnothi yadaaadathe
Yat cha atthi vishayaan iha
Yat cha asya santhatho bhaavah
Tasmaat atmethi keertyathe

That which pervades everything, that which attracts everything unto itself, that which enjoys all pleasures, that by which the world gets its sentience or existence, that is called as Atman or Self.

Thus Atma refers to the Self – that Self which seems to be limited but is never limited, that which is beyond all perceptions, that which is beyond all logic etc. Atma also means that which is very near and hence this means the entire region of experience that a person has. Atma is thus referred to as the Self which seems to be in bondage but not really in bondage.

So this limited intellect perceives aatma to be bonded with jeeva?

Yes – It is the antah karana arising out of avidya which causes the Self to consider itself as jeeva. Rather than the word “bonded with jeeva”, it is better to use “considering as jeeva” because in this case adhyaasa or superimposition happens – the jeeva is superimposed on the Self even as snake is superimposed on the rope. Thus the Self is considered as the limited jeeva who is the kartha and bhoktha – and is also in bondage and seeking realization or liberation.

Now, the doubt may come that what is difference between Atma and Brahman????? Brahman is never bondage at all – there never is also a chance of Brahman being bonded (Vidyaranya will make this very clear in the explanation of TAT TVAM ASI Mahavakya which will be taken in due course by Mallika). But Kutastha or Atma is that which may seem to be in bondage. Yes, both are almost same only but the terms differ depending on the perspective in which the seeker is – for a jnaani, both are same. For an ajnaani, Atma seems to be in bondage but Brahman is that which can never seem to be in bondage also.

Sphurana translated into english means “pulsation”. This pulsation doesn’t mean any kind of movement or change as in the external world objects because the Self is changeless as it is eternal. Pulsation means the feeling of existence that is experienced by the seeker each and every moment. Each moment, even without our knowledge we know and experience that “I-exist”. Nobody ever feels his own non-existence. This is what is called as sphurana of AHAM or ATMAN. This is in the form of continuous experience that “I-exist, I-exist”.

How is this pulsation experienced? If it is experienced, then will that not make the Self non-existence as that which is objectified has no real existence????

Pulsation is experienced intuitively as “I-exist” or the innate feeling that I am existing whatever be the condition or surroundings. Even when a person is about to die, he experiences that “I-exist” and never leaves this thought or feeling. This pulsation is experienced as one’s own very nature and not as an external object perception ----- it is existence of that which is the Subject of all objects.

The simplest way to explain pulsation or sphurana is by comparing the experience of a human being with a rock. The human being is sentient and hence has always the pulsation in the heart that “I-exist” (this is not a thought in the mind but one’s own very nature and self-present without any thoughts – even when thoughts are not there during samadhi or other states, still “I-exist” or pulsation of my existence is still there). A rock doesn’t have any pulsation because it doesn’t experience its own existence. This is clearly known when a person hits another human being – the being who has received the hit returns the hit (maybe J gives a double shot as per the offer – “if you buy one, you will get one more free”JJJ). But when a person hits a rock, it doesn’t do anything back (of course the hand will be pained if the rock is huge but that is because of the gross form and not a conscious response). This is what is the difference between that which has sphurana and that which doesn’t have.

WE as human beings have this pulsation each and every moment – there is not even a single moment when we don’t feel this pulsation as self-existing. We would not have consciously thought about it because it is not an object to thought but it is the Subject which cannot be objectified. Since this “I-exist” pulsation is required for perceing other entities and actions too, therefore this is the starting of all subjective and objective experiences – thus there is no time when this pulsation is not there (as time is insentient and requires this pulsation for its existence).

The next term is Paramaatma – the Upanishads and Vedas use this term to indicate Ishwara. Parama atma means that which is Supreme and has no relativity in the world at all – this means Paramaatman has no comparisons in the world even though he might not be Brahman as such. Paramaatman has two qualities which are Sarvajnatva and Sarvavyaapitva (all-knowing and all-pervasiveness). This ishwara also is an illusion as clearly stated by none other than Ramana Maharshi as

Isha Jeevayoh vesha dhee bidhaah
Sat svabhaavatho vasthu kevalam

Ishwara and Jeeva differ in the adjuncts only – the essence of both is Sat alone & therefore the entity is Absolute alone (one alone, no duality).
Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni in his commentary on Ramana’s Upadesa Saram sloka quoted above tells that the qualities of “sarvajna” and “savavyaapya” of Ishwara & “alpajna” and “alpavyaapya” of Jeeva are adjunctions only which are not real but only an illusion.

Thus Paramaatman is only an illusion (Yes, I very well know that many saints and jeevan mukthas will disagree over here – as for eg: the Vivarana school which considers Ishwara as Brahman or Bimba Chaitanya which is reflected in intellect and becomes jeeva --- one example of the same would be Swami Tejomayananda, the current head of Chinmaya Mission). I have nothing against any saint and respect each one and their opinion as well – but as far as the limited intellect is considered, it feels it this way only & doesn’t believe in any other way as such.

Para means higher – when Para is used, there is ofcourse Apara instantly present. Apara means lower. Para atma means the higher Self or Kutastha with respect to the lower Self which is “jeeva” – the reflection. When Para atma is used with TAT (to explain Brahma in the mahavakya Aham brahma asmi which Mallika will be explaining next), Para atma means Brahman with respect to apara atma which is ishwara. Para is only a relative term.

Paratma is relative – so is Paramatman – but Atman alone is absolute. Atman is also universal because in many places of Gita, Atma word is used for body, mind etc. (as per almost all of the different vedantic schools acharya’s interpretations) – thus, this word ATMA or Self refers to everything in the world which exists as everything that exists needs Consciousness to exist & thus is not different from Consciousness.

Ramana tells in his talks that the jnaani doesn’t consider the self alone as Atma but he considers even the body and the world as Self only.

Hope the difference of the three terms is clear. Maybe, we should try to discuss the various terms used in Vedanta to get a clear picture and understanding of Vedantic concepts.

We have previously seen the meaning of the different terms in Vedanta of Kutastha, Nirguna Brahman, Jeeva and Ishwara.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Jeeva, Kutastha, Ishwara and Brahman

1. Defnition of Jeeva, Kutastha, Ishwara and Brahman

While trying to analyze on the meaning of Mahavakyas, there are many technical details to be known (as per Mimamsa shastra and nyaaya shastra as well as Vedanta) so that the meaning is apprehended in the right way.

There are four terms which needs to be known before entering into this in-depth analysis of Mahavakyas (analysis as per the words or padaas used in the vakya).


We will start from the ultimate reality of Brahman – Brahman is that which is one without a second, it is SAT CHIT ANANDA in nature. Nothing more needs to be said about Brahman because it is beyond all words and thoughts.

When this Brahman seems to be having the power of Maya, the cosmic power which is responsible for creation, Brahman is called Ishwara. Thus we can easily say that Brahman in its natural state is Nirguna or Nirvishesha but when Brahman is endowed with the power of Maya, it is Saguna and Savishesha and is termed as Ishwara. Ishwara is taken from the root eet which means “creator” or “controller”.

We have to remember what Satya Darshanam answers for the objection that “IS Maya real or unreal” --- the answer being that Maya itself is only an illusion and Brahman is never endowed with Maya as Maya itself is only an illusory power (thus non-existent from the ultimate perspective).

Ishwara thus created various beings in the world (the non-sentient bodies and minds) and thereby entered into them as Consciousness. This Consciousness which is present in all beings is termed as Kutastha as it is unchanging and eternal. This Kutastha which is the same in all the bodies and minds seems to get identified with a particular body and mind is called Jeeva or limited Self. This identification is because of reflection of Kutastha on the intellect which is termed as Jeeva. Jeeva is non-eternal and limited because it is reflected in the limited intellect & as it is associated with the limited body and mind.

AS we have now seen all the four entities, we will try to understand this clearly with the help of examples (which can be found in Panchadashi as Vidyaranya deals this in detail).

Brahman or Nirguna Brahman is Mahaakasha (Maha is mentioned to show that it is unlimited and never in bondage) – unlimited space.
Ishwara is reflection of unlimited space in the various clouds that are seen (there are difference among people about the definition of Ishwara which we will deal in the other thread). We can just remember that Ishwara has two qualities of Sarvajnatva and Sarvavyaapitva – he is omniscient or all-knowing and all-pervading.

Kutastha is space limited by a pot – the space inside a pot. The space inside a pot is called Ghataakasha which is not at all different from Mahaakasha but seems to be different because of the limitation of “pot”. Thus Kutastha is Consciousness or Brahman alone but seems to be different from Brahman because of the body-mind complex. But Kutastha is never affected by body-mind because it is the witness to the activities of body and mind. Thus there are no “many” kutasthaas or Consciousnesses but only one Kutastha which seems to be limited by various bodies and minds which by themselves are only illusions in the ultimate reality of Brahman.

Jeeva is reflection of kutastha in the water in the pot – reflection of ghata akasha in the water in the pot is Jeeva. Thus Jeeva is non-eternal and limited only because the reflection has validity only in the water and until water is there.

The moment the AHAM or “I” realizes that I am not the jeeva but the witness Kutastha, he realizes the ultimate reality that there is neither reflection nor the reflecting medium, neither the Kutastha nor the Brahman, neither the pot-space nor unlimited space – but only ONE Consciousness exists, one without a second.

Now it might be doubted that Sankara said “Jeeva brahmaiva na parah” – Jeeva is Brahman alone and not different from it – this fails here as reflection is unreal whereas Brahman is real only.

This objection/doubt is not valid because any reflection is nothing but the original alone – the reflection seems to exist only until the medium exists – thus any reflection is not different from the original. Thereby there is no fault in Sankara’s definition also as he means that when the jeeva realizes that he is the original and not the reflection, he becomes the Kutastha and realizes his oneness with the ultimate reality of Brahman.

The above definitions are as per Vidyaranya in Panchadashi – other authors in Advaita differ in the definition or concept of Ishwara.