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.


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