Friday, March 12, 2010
Updesa Saram (Words of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi)
Upadesa Saram by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi was a Mahatma who rarely spoke. But still out of compassion, when devotees asked him doubts, he used to speak out.
Similarly Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi had no intention to write out works in Sanskrit or any language for that matter. But when the devotees compelled him or requested him to write works, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi wrote works for their benefit.
There was a Tamil devotee of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi by name Muruganar. He was a poet and writer in Tamil. Muruganar was writing an ancient puranic story in Tamil.
The story goes thus:
There were a few rishis staying in the forest with their wives. These rishis were staunch ritualistic people who believed rituals alone give ultimate Bliss and happiness. These rishis were doing rituals for a long period. Due to performance of rituals, there mind was purified & Lord Siva felt compassion towards them. Lord Siva wanted to teach them the ultimate truth and to make them realize that no action can remove sorrow because actions are born out of ignorance of one’s own nature. It is only through knowledge about one’s own nature that a person gets rid of all sorrow and sufferings. Thus, Siva decided to first test them and then teach them the ultimate Reality. Thus, Siva came to the forest in the form of young saint and Vishnu accompanied Siva in the form of Mohini & as the young saint’s wife. The rishis were attracted to Vishnu. The rishi patnis were attracted to Siva. Seeing their wives attracted to the young saint, these rishis were very angry and tried all their rituals and mantras to destroy Siva. But Siva was not defeated. At last the rishis realized that this young saint is not an ordinary person but God himself & therefore fell at the saint’s feet & asked him to teach them the ultimate truth. Thus Siva took his real form and taught them the ultimate Reality that “there is only one thing here that is called the Self or God or Brahman. Whatever is seen in this dual world is only Consciousness and not different from it, and that perfect Blissful Consciousness You Are”.
Thus goes the puranic story. Muruganar was translating this story into Tamil. He wrote the work upto Siva teaching the rishis. He wanted Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi to write this portion where Siva teaches the rishis (because he considered Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi as the very avatar of Dakshinamurthy). Thus, out of compassion, Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi wrote that portion of teaching of Siva in Tamil. After writing this, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself translated this work into Sanskrit and other languages.
The Sanskrit work is called Upadesa Saram or Essence of the Teaching of Siva. This work is very short & consists of just 30 slokas. Each shloka is very short in a metre composed of five words in a line. The words in the sloka are also very easy to understand and simple Sanskrit words.
One of the importances of this work is that it deals with all the paths of Yoga, the Karma, Bhakthi, Raja and Jnaana. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi shows each of these paths (according to each person’s nature, a person can follow the path most suitable for him) and shows us how a person can reach the ultimate goal through any of these paths.
This work when completely grasped or learned by-heart along with the meaning is capable of completely destroying the ignorance veils and thereby making one realize one’s own real nature of Bliss Absolute. This work is also used as an introductory work in many Vedanta learning centres like Arsha Vidhya Peetam of Swami Dayananda Saraswathi and Chinmaya Mission of Swami Chinmayananda. These slokas are also very useful for Anusandhaanam or contemplation daily by reciting or chanting these verses.
Rituals and Knowledge
Krishna defines this world as Karma Anubhandheeni manushya loke – full of actions.
Krishna says in Gita
Na me partha asthi karthavyam trishu lokeshu kinchana
Na anavaaptam avaaptavyam vartha eva cha karmaani 3-22
O Arjuna, I have no duties, not even little, in all the three worlds because I have nothing to be attained which I have not got now. But still I remain amidst action.
Karmani eva adhikaarah the ma phaleshu kadaachana
Ma karma phala hetur bhoor ma te sangotsa vikarmani 2-47
O Arjuna, you have right only to action and not to the fruit of the action. Do works without any expectation of the results, but still don’t be without doing work.
Thus, this human body will be doing work & nobody can stop it. Thus work or actions will continue. But the liberty from the individual is whether he wants to remain attached to the actions or whether he wants to remain detached to the actions. When the individual is attached to the actions, the pure Self is being identified wrongly with the Ego. This identification causes the Ego to suffer & because a person identifies himself with the Ego, he seems to suffer and cries. But in Reality, the person or the pure Consciousness is not at all affected by any actions because actions cannot touch the Self as the Self is beyond all actions. The Self is that which gives these illusory actions light. These illusory actions are like water seen in desert – neither do the objects exist nor do the actions. Even the Ego has no existence because Ego exists only when there are external objects, but when there is only one Self, one without a second, where does external objects appear & hence there is no Ego.
Thus wrong knowledge is the cause of this Ego and the sufferings arising out of this Ego.
But when a person realizes this Reality, then the world becomes a mere drama and the actor understands that this is only an illusion and not a Reality. Thus, he gets detached to the actions and the fruits of those actions. When a person is detached to the actions and its fruits, whether good is happening or bad is happening, he remains the same. This is real nature of the Self & only in this case, the person remains in his natural state of Consciousness.
As he is remaining in his natural state, he rejoices in the Bliss of the Self – he thus realizes that the objects that are seen are only the Self & not different from it. Thus, due to detachment from the action and its fruits, the person realizes his own real nature & thereby attains liberation from the illusory actions and the world.
Actions arise out of desires & desires arise out of ignorance.
When a person doesn’t know that he is perfect, he desires to be perfect. This desire is to be satisfied or gratified & hence this turns into actions. Actions are done & to maintain the state of temporary happiness (gained from these actions), the person has to do more actions. Thus actions again tempt the person to desire more & more actions continue. This cycle continues endlessly.
Thus Manu says in Manu Smriti that to remove desire by enjoying them is like pouring ghee into fire to kill the fire!!!!
This ignorance can be removed only through knowledge about oneself. This knowledge is termed as Atma Vidya or Brahma Vidya.
The ritualistic people are termed as Mimamsakaas – people who strongly believe that rituals alone give ultimate Bliss & that these rituals are in themselves efficient to give happiness & that these rituals don’t need any external God for their fruits. Thus these were non-believers of God. They fully believed in the Vedas. The Vedas have two parts – Karma Kanda or ritualistic portion and the Jnaana Kanda or knowledge portions. These Mimamsakaas believe in the ritualistic portion. The knowledge portion comprises the Upanishads which tell that any action is limited and hence the results of those actions are also limited.
If a person does good deeds, then he attains Swarga or heaven. But even the heaven is not Eternal. Once the punyaas of the person are exhausted, he returns back to Earth.
The Eternal happiness is inherent in man. Each person is divine and is the Self of the nature of Nitya Suddha Buddha Mukta – ever pure, ever enlightened and ever liberated. But this Reality of one’s own nature is not known because of ignorance. This ignorance has to be removed. This is the ultimate goal of human birth. When this ignorance veil is removed, then the individual realizes that “I am the Self, I am perfect, I am Blissful in nature”, thereby stops all seeking, all becoming, all external quests for Eternal happiness.
But there are some pre requisites for getting this knowledge about oneself. When a mirror is dirty, a person cannot see his face clearly. Similarly when the mind is impure, the individual cannot see his own real nature. Thus purity of mind is a pre requisite for Self-Knowledge. This pre requisite of purification is attained through action (action done without any attachment to the doer and the fruits of the actions). This path which helps in purification of mind & thereby to liberation or realization is called Karma Yoga.
The path wherein the individual completely merges into the Supreme Being or God who is all-pervading and who is the only one present is called Bhakthi Yoga or path of devotion.
There is yet another path called Raja Yoga wherein the mind is controlled and the thoughts are vanquished wherein the Reality of the Self is known. The thoughts arise from the Ego. The Ego arises out of ignorance from the Self. Thus when thoughts are eradicated, then the Self is realized. Thus, control of the mind is given emphasis in this path wherein Yama, Niyama, Asana etc are methods or steps to this final goal of realization.
The ultimate or final step to realization is the Jnaana Yoga path of Knowledge wherein a person realizes that “I am the Self, I am Bliss Absolute and one without a second”. This path of knowledge has the scriptures and the scriptural teachings as its base. Unlike other paths where the final step is realization of Oneness or Absolute non-duality, here the very path itself leads to the Absolute non-dual Brahman or the Self.
Whatever path a person follows (the above four paths of Bhakthi, Karma, Raja and Jnaana), he reaches the final step where he has to realize the essential non-duality behind this seemingly existing dual world. This final state is expressed in the Upanishads through the great dictums of “TAT TVAM ASI” – THAT THOU ART and all.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this work of his brings out the essence and explanation of each of these four paths. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gives special emphasis to the path of Knowledge because ultimately a person has to realize the truth or get knowledge that “I am the Supreme Being, there is no difference between this individual being and the all-pervading being of God or Brahman”.
Karthurajnayaa Prapyathe Phalam
Karma Kim Param Karma Tad Jadam….1
Karthuh – by the creator
Ajnayaa – controlled or governed
Praapyathe – got or attained
Phalam – fruits
Karma kim param – how or why is work then superior
Karma tad jadam – that Karma is insentient only.
The fruits of all actions are attained and controlled by the Lord or the creator. Then how can work be superior? As work is an insentient thing only.
The very basis of existence in this world is due to actions and by actions. Each individual has to perform actions & he can never deviate from doing actions.
Let the individual be a software engineer or a renunciated Saint or the very Lord Krishna, he has to do actions. This Bhooloka or Earth is a world of actions.
Actions are inevitable in as much breathing of air or drinking water is inevitable. Even great Mahatmas perform actions. This is the reason why Lord Krishna himself did actions and never refrained from doing actions.
A grihastha has the actions to support his family & protect them, whereas a Brahmachari has the action to study the Vedas in the Gurukula of the teacher. The vanaprastha (or old people who go and stay in forests contemplating about the Lord) have actions of doing poojas, dhyaana and all. The sanyasins too have actions prescribed for them like the Chaturmaasya pooja, the pooja to be performed on Guru Poornima etc.
Thus, every individual in this world has to do actions irrespective of what those actions are. Sri Krishna mentions in Gita that everyone is bound by actions & compelled to do actions.
Now, one may ask what do great Mahatmas or Yogis sitting in the Himalayas do? Do they perform actions?
Of course they also do actions. But their actions are not at the gross body level but at the mental level.
Tejo Bindu Upanishad says:
Nimishardham na thisthanthi vrittim brahma mayeem vina
Yatha Thisthanthi brahmaadhyaah sukadhayah sanakaadhyaah
Not even for a single moment should a person remain without the thought that “I am Brahman”. People like Brahma, Suka and Sanaka sages all remain with the thought of “I am Brahman”.
Any action has five components
Kartha – Doer
Chesta or Karma – Action
Karanam – Instruments
Adhisthaanam – Base or Substratum
Daivam – Vidhi or previous birth effects.
Mainly an action can be considered to have three components of Kartha – the person doing the action, Karma – the operation or performing of the karma and the Karnam – the instruments for doing the action.
Let’s say a person named Raama is cooking. Here, the person doing the action is Raama and he is Kartha. The action or Karma is cooking. Raama cannot cook without the instruments or Karnam of hands and eyes (mainly these two). Thus, any action consists of the doer, the act or action and the instruments helping for the action.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the sloka tells that the fruit of any action is ordained by Karthuh or the creator. The act of cooking depends mainly on the person cooking. Similarly, all actions in this world are controlled by the Supreme Being or Lord. The Lord is one who decides the fruits of actions.
Does this mean people praying to God will get good fruits whereas people not praying to God will get bad fruits?
No. God is a judge, judging the action of a person and giving the fruit corresponding to the action of the person. If this is not the case, if I am am running a hotel, and I cook for my customers then I should get currency notes from the pressure cooker instead of boiled rice!!
Also, the fruits are not determined by individuals but the Creator alone. This is the reason why we find people working hard and putting all their efforts into an action but still not succeeding in the act. And we find people who do very less work, yet get rewarded for the same. A simple example is the promotion happening in companies. A person might be very good worker and well suited for promotion but still he might not get promoted rather the person who is not eligible might get promoted. Thus all actions are not determined by the individual and the surroundings, rather by the Creator or God alone based on our fortunes.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that as fruits of work is controlled or judged and given by Lord, action can never be superior.
Then what mainly determines or decides the fruits of action?
Whatever actions a person does, he gets the results of the action. This is the Law of Karma or action. Let’s say a person does agnihotra pooja daily, he will attain Heaven and enjoy the pleasures there. Let’s say a person prepares for MBA, he will get through the CAT exam and attain a seat in MBA. It can never happen that a person preparing for M.Tech admission gets through the admission of MBA.
But there is a significant factor in the decision of the fruits. The action that a person does is not the real matter, but the attitude in which the action is performed matters. The example of Dharmavyaada story in Mahabharatha just proves this. Dharmavyaada was a butcher who was performing his duty with right attitude so Vishnu sends some of his devotees to Dharmavyaada for learning about the Self.
Here, in this sloka Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi thus refutes the views of ritualists who say that rituals in themselves are capable of giving the fruits. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells that the fruits can be determined only by a person who is neither for nor against the actions and the doer. Such a person can only be the Lord or creator of the universe who is neither attracted nor averse to any objects in this world.
Now, one may ask for the proof of God?
We see objects in this world. As we know, any objects can not come out of nothing. Any effect that is seen now needs to have a cause. Any effect should have an efficient cause.
We all know that pots are made out of mud. It is not possible that mud by itself becomes a pot. It is only when the potter (an efficient cause) puts his effort that mud turns into a pot. This potter must necessarily be fully aware of mud and pot – else he cannot efficiently create the effect of pot.
If this is the case for a small thing, what to speak about this big universe of innumerous milky ways and all!!! Thus, there needs to be creator for this world. The creator should necessarily be all-knowing (Sarvajna) since only then he can create objects.
Thus, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi indirectly proves the existence of all-knowing God or Creator of this world.
All actions depend on the doer. Without the effort from the doer, all actions are insentient & have no value at all. An action of cooking gets its value only because of the cook. Without the cook, there is no cooking. Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells that all actions are insentient and the Doer is the sentient thing.
Everyone knows that when the doer or Consciousness is present, then there are actions, there is this world. When the doer is absent, there are no objects, no world at all. The simple example for this is the Deep Sleep state. In the Deep Sleep state, the doer or the Ego is not present. Since the Ego is not present, there is no action and no world at all. But still the pure “I” exists. This “I” is the real Consciousness which gives its light to the Ego for doing actions. Thus all actions and even Ego are insentient as they are temporary and depend on Consciousness or the Self for their existence.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells three main points in this sloka
1.Fruits are ordained or governed by Creator & not the action alone.
2. There is a creator for this world.
3. Actions are insentient.
When a person realizes the futility of actions as well as that one can never refrain from actions & thereby does actions without expectation, he is not affected by the action or its fruits. When a person is thus not affected the fruits of the actions, he neither gets happy nor broods over the fruits. He remains completely detached to the action and its fruits. Thus, he becomes a mere witness to the action. He is neither the doer nor the enjoyer – but just a tool or instrument in performance of the action. Thus, through actions his mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure, it is devoid of any thoughts.
Thoughts are the causes of problems and sufferings in life. But when the mind is devoid of thoughts, it merges into its own source of Consciousness which is of the nature of Bliss Absolute. Thus the person merely becomes an actor enacting a drama. He thus always rejoices in the actions and their fruits. This is the real nature of the Self which has to be realized. Thus through actions, a person realizes his own very nature of Consciousness and thereby realizes that there is nothing new to be gained and that my very own nature is happiness alone.
This path of realizing one’s own nature is called Karma Yoga or path of action. Since no individual can sit idle without doing work, this path is the most suited for majority of the people.
Action or Karma word comes from the verb Kri meaning to do.
There is the law of action which is that whatever action you do; similar will be result or fruits of that action. Action presupposes a doer or the Ego which is acting.
This Ego can never be the Self or pure Consciousness because pure Consciousness or real “I” is present in Deep Sleep where there is neither Ego nor any action. So, wherever there is Ego, there action is also present. As the above experience of Deep Sleep shows, wherever there is the Ego or doer (notion of doership is called Ego), there is sorrow also. In Deep Sleep, there is no Ego and hence no sorrow but only pure happiness of the Self. But during Waking and Dream states, there is the Ego and hence the Ego suffers from sorrow and delusion. The aim of Vedanta and human life is to eradicate sorrows. The ultimate aim of any human being is eradication of sorrow and gain of Eternal happiness that is called BLISS. This can happen only when the Ego is eradicated. The eradication of Ego can be done through Karma Yoga.
Karma doesn’t give liberation directly but action indirectly leads one to liberation. Actions purify the mind. When the mind is purified, the person becomes eligible for knowledge. And through knowledge one realizes the ultimate Reality that “there neither was any action nor any doer; I am always the Self – one without a second – of the nature of Existence and Bliss Absolute”. Thus, the illusory ignorance and the illusory sorrow which affects the doer or Ego alone and not the Self is removed. This is the ultimate aim or goal of any living being.
When a person does any action with expectations, he is getting attached to the action and its fruits. When the fruits are bad and not good for the person, he becomes sad. Therefore he becomes attached to the fruits & the fruit changes his mood. But when a person is not attached to actions, he remains unaffected by the results of the actions even if the results are bad. This state of unaffected is what Karma Yoga leads one to.
Even though the Self is not at all affected by actions, but the Ego is affected by the actions. Thereby when a person becomes completely unaffected by the actions, the Ego slowly merges into its source of the Self. As the Self is of the nature of Eternal Bliss, the person rejoices in the Bliss of the Self at all times.
Even when a person is unaffected or unattached to the actions, still he may have the Ego or doer attitude. Let’s say I am typing this explanation. I don’t expect any result from this typing, but still I may have the notion that “I am typing it”. This notion in itself leads to attachment to the action (indirectly). This Egoistic attitude leads one to sorrow. Indirectly this attitude of doership leads one to expect good results. If someone criticizes whatever is being written here, then I may get sad and attack the person telling “I have written this, hence it is right only and you are only wrong”. Thus again it leads to sorrow only.
Therefore mere non-attachment to actions alone is not enough because unknowingly the Ego might again get nourished. Therefore, one needs to always attribute the action to the Almighty or the Self or Brahman.
When a person does actions without any expectations and as an offering to the Almighty (Krishnarpanamastu)– he is in no way affected by the actions & the Ego is completely vanquished because it is the Almighty who is taking care of the actions.
Thereby, Karma Yoga is actions performed without any expectations and as an offering to the Almighty.
Thus, when a person completely follows this Karma Yoga, his mind becomes pure & he realizes his own very nature of Bliss. Therefore, he is taken to Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Now, one may ask the question “How can I do Karma Yoga in office?”
Karma Yoga has no place restrictions or time restrictions. Whatever it demands is just the non-expectation of the results & offering it to the Almighty.
When I am writing a code in Java, I write the code without expecting any result (like it should work or should get an appreciation from onsite and all) and as an offering to the Almighty.
I say “Oh Lord! Even though you are present everywhere, this Ego is in ignorance. It neither knows you nor the Reality. It is like a just-born child. This Ego might move away from the right path. Hence I offer this work unto you. This is the only way I can serve you. Please partake of this offering from your child”.
When this attitude is maintained, the Ego is vanquished and the person remains unattached to the results of the actions of coding.
Thus, this offering of the work can be performed anywhere and anytime. This Karma Yoga makes one pure and completely unattached to the work. Thus, whatever be the result of the action, “I” remain the same and as the Self or Consciousness.
This way, each day and each moment becomes an offering and a pooja. This pooja is greater than Sandhya Vandhanam. This pooja doesn’t have any discrimination between women and men & castes. This neither has any age restriction nor requires any knowledge for its performance.
As Sri Sri Sankara says in Shiva Manasa Pooja
“Pooja te vishayopa bhoga rachana
Sanchaara padayoh pradakshinah vidhi stotraani sarva girah
Yad yad karma karothi tad tad akhilam sambho tava aaradhanam”
The enjoyment of sensual pleasures is your pooja, Sleep is Samadhi or absorption, walking is pradakshina or circumbulation, words or speech is stotra. Whatever I do, that is your worship O Lord Siva.
This sloka encompasses the complete Karma Yoga. Sri Krishna also talks in detail about this Karma Yoga in Gita. He mentions in lot of places that “taking refugee in Me alone, who worships Me, I will see into all his matters” and “take refugee in Me alone and renounce all actions (or the doer) – this way sins will not get attached to you and hence Do not worry.
Thus, the very actions that bind people become the means of liberation.
Krithi mahodadhau pathana kaaranam
Phalam asaashvatham gathi nirodhakam…..2
Krithi Mahodadhau – the big ocean of action or work
Pathana Kaaranam – is the cause of down fall or spiritual declination.
Phalam Asaasvatham – fruits of actions are temporary and not permanent
Gathi Nirodhakam – and they obstruct the progress of a spiritual seeker.
The big ocean of action is the cause of down fall. The fruits of actions are not permanent and they obstruct the progress of a spiritual seeker.
Here, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining the futility of action which he had mentioned as “Karma Tad jadam” or Karma is insentient in the previous verse.
Action is a big ocean. The world based on actions is termed as a big ocean by great Mahatmas and realized beings. Sri Sri Sankara himself has put it as “Iha samsaare bahudusthaare” – this ocean of samsaar is tough to cross over.
Sri Sri Sankara again says in Soundarya Lahiri “Janma Jaladau nimagnaanaam” – one who is immersed in the ocean of birth and death, he is saved by the Goddess Tripurasundari.
Any action (which is not accompanied by renouncement of the expectation of the fruits and as an offering to the Almighty) becomes the cause of bondage.
A person is performing an action of “Sandhya Vandanam”. This very action becomes the source of sorrow if not accompanied by the right attitude. There are people who do Sandhya Vandanam expecting the Almighty to shower special blessings on them. Thus their action is accompanied by the seeking of the fruits of the action. But when aging comes, it becomes impossible for them to do Sandhya Vandanam. Now they proclaim “I did lot of Sandhya Vandanam but still God did this to me and I am unable to do Sandhya Vandanam”. The very action which was considered very sacred became the source of falling down and pin pointing to the Almighty.
Thus, any action which is not accompanied by the right attitude becomes the source of sorrow. And any action with expectation expects results. When a person attains the results, he strives either to sustain the fruits or to get higher fruits – thus he goes on doing more action with expectation. Thus, this cycle of action and results, desiring more and more continues and this cycle is a big ocean which causes the fall down of the seeker. The seeker instead of seeking the higher power of the Self and its realization strives for doing action again and again. Thus, the action itself becomes the cause of bondage.
This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi indicates by “ocean of karma is the cause of spiritual down fall”.
The actions are finite things. It is done by the finite Ego and the surroundings that help the action are also finite. Hence, such a finite action can never give infinite result. Therefore, all actions can not give infinite result.
When a person does the action of cooking, the result is the cooked rice. The action is limited by the person doing it and the object used for the action (rice) is also limited or finite only. Therefore it can give finite or limited cooked rice only. This limited cooked rice can be used only for a short period and by some people alone. Thus, the happiness or Bliss that a person gets from this limited result is also limited. And when a person gets limited happiness, he is never contented. Unless a person is content, he will have the temptation and desire to do more action. Thus the vicious circle of actions will continue.
A person gets contentment and completeness only when he seeks nothing, only when he doesn’t desire anything. This non-seeking can happen only when he has infinite Bliss within himself. The Upanishads proclaim that “that which is complete alone can give Eternal Bliss”. This Eternal Bliss is present only in the Self. This Eternal Bliss is experienced by each person during Deep Sleep where nothing is experienced and the person remains as the pure subject without objects. This is the ultimate and final state where the person seeks nothing; the person has nothing to be gained or learned & rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Therefore, any action can not give a person realization of the Self because action is in itself finite & the Self is infinite. The Self one already is, but unaware of. There is an ignorance veil that blinds the Reality and makes the person think that he is the limited being with a body and mind. This makes him think that “he is finite” & only God or Paramatman is infinite. This limitation makes him think that he is associated with the body and mind and that he is the doer of actions. Thus, whatever actions and results happen, he finds himself affected by those. Thereby he seems to become sad and seems to be suffering from delusion.
Therefore, action can never give a person the completeness, the perfectness, the satisfaction and Eternal Bliss because these are present in the Self alone. The Self is unknown due to ignorance and thereby it can go only through knowledge about one’s own real nature.
Actions are propagated by desire alone. Desires come when the person forgets the Reality of his being complete. Thus, ignorance causes desire & desire in turn causes actions. Therefore action can never remove ignorance and ignorance can be removed only through Knowledge.
And as actions are born out of ignorance, actions only lead to more and more ignorance. Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that actions obstruct the path to realization.
But, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi going forth will be explaining that actions endowed with the right attitude of non-expectation and offering to the Almighty will indirectly lead to realization.
Knowledge about the Self can be completely apprehended only when the mind is pure. When the mirror is impure, one cannot see one’s own face & even if one sees the face, he will see it as dirty only. But when the mirror is pure, the face is seen as such. Similarly the Self is realized when the mind is purified alone. If the mind is not purified, then Egoistic approach will come & a person will just argue about the ultimate Reality being Advaita or Dvaita or whether there is God or Paramatman and all. These arguments will never lead to the ultimate Reality. And this is the reason we find lot of people “so-called Knowledgeable” who are well versed in the Upanishads and Gita, but still unable to apprehend the ultimate Reality & fight amongst others about futile issues like whether God is there, whether women can chant Vedas or not and all. These are termed by Mundaka Upanishad as “learned fools” and these people quote slokas and guide others like a blind man guiding another blind man.
The Mundaka Upanishad says
“Esho anuraatma chetasaa veditavyo”
This subtle Self is known only through a pure intellect or mind.
“Jnaana prasadena vishuddhasatvah tatah tu tam pashyathe nishkalam dhyaayamaanah”
The Self is known only through knowledge in a pure intellect & is realized as without parts during times of meditation and absorption.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says
“Manasaiva anudrashtavyam neha nana asthi kinchana
Mrityoh sa mrityum apnothi ya iha nana iva pashyathi”
The Self must be known through the pure mind alone & through enquiry. The ultimate Reality is that there is no duality, not even little. He who sees the illusory duality (as it were) goes from death to death (that is he suffers in this illusory world).
Any action accomplishes four outputs or results. Result arising out of any action can be classified into these four types.
Sureswaracharya says about this in Naishkarmya Siddhi
“Utpaadhyam aapyam samskaaryam vikaaryam cha kriya phalam.
Na muktir yatah tasmaat kriya tasyaa na sadhanam”
The four types of results of actions are
Utpatti – Creation or origination
Aapthi – attainment
Samskaaryam – purification
Vikaaryam – modification
The Self or the ultimate Reality termed as Brahman in the Upanishads is not attainable by any of these.
The Self is not born, hence it cannot be CREATED. Since the Self is not born, it cannot change or modification is not possible in it – therefore no MODIFICATION is possible in it. As the Self is without birth & always present as “I”, it cannot be ATTAINED. Since the Self is complete & perfect, there is no PURIFICATION possible in it.
Thus, the Self can not be the result of actions. But when a person does action for purification of the mind, then he becomes eligible for apprehending the ultimate Reality of “I am the Self”.
Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka and the first sloka emphasizes the futility of doing actions without the proper attitude.
But one has to constantly remember the ultimate goal which is realization that “I am God, I am the Self, I am perfect and of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss”. Until this is realized, search for completeness will be there & there will be no contentment and Eternal Bliss.
But when the person realizes that “I am the God, I am the Self of the nature of Bliss Absolute”, there remains nothing more to be attained by the person & therefore he rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self. This ultimate knowledge can be attained or realized only when the mind is pure and one of the ways to attain purity is the path of action (with the proper attitude). This path of action is doing actions without any expectation and as an offering to the Almighty.
Thus, this sloka which explains the futility of action (without the proper attitude) can be summarized as:
Actions are cause of fall down into the ocean of birth and death (indicating sorrow and suffering) are finite & there fruits are also finite obstruct the progress of a spiritual seeker
Krishna mentions in Gita Chapter 9 about performance of action endowed with devotion & says that there is no restriction for such actions.
“Patram pushpam phalam toyam yo me bhaktya prayatchathi
Tadaham bhakti upahritum asnaami priyataatmanah”
A flower, a leaf, a fruit or some water – whatever you offer to me with devotion – that offering which is associated with devotion I partake.
“Yad karoshi yad ashnaasi yad juhosi dadaasi yat
Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tad kurushva mad arpanam”
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in the homa kunda, whatever you give & whatever austerity you follow – offer these unto Me.
What is the use of such offering?
“Shubha ashuba phalairevam mokshyase karma bandhanaih
Sanyaasa yoga yuktaatma vimukto maam upaishyasi”
Thus, he becomes liberated from the dual results of bad and good as well from the bondage of action (which causes a person to be born again and again and get deluded into the ocean of samsaara). He, having established in renunciation of actions (mental renunciation) gets liberated and attains Me (realizes his own Reality as the Self which is the same as Brahman and same as the Lord).
And this action or Karma Yoga has no restrictions of women doing it or sinners doing it
“Maam hi paartha vyapaasrithya yepi syuh papa yonayah
Striyo vaishya sudraah tepi yaanthi paraam ganthim”
Those who take refugee in Me even if they are born of low-birth or children of sinners or women & sudraas – still they attain the Supreme state of Eternal happiness.
Therefore, any person can do this karma yoga. There is no time limitation, no space limitation, no creed or caste limitation to this Karma Yoga and when this is followed it leads a person to the ultimate state of Oneness and that person rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the next sloka describes how action done with proper attitude leads to realization and completeness.
Ishwara arpitam na icchayaa kritam
Chitta shodhakam mukti sadhakam…..3
Ishwara arpitam – Work which is offered to God and
Na Icchaya kritam – done without any expectation for the fruits.
Chitta shodhakam – helps in purification of mind
Mukti sadhakam – and thereby is a path to realization (or leads one to realization or liberation).
Work which is performed as an offering to the Almighty and done without any expectation for the fruits – helps in purification of mind & thereby leads one to liberation or realization.
This verse brings out the very essence of Karma Yoga or path of action. The very same import of this sloka can be found in many places in the Gita as well as in the Upanishads.
One needs to have a very clear idea about realization or liberation. When a person doesn’t even know what liberation means, then all the paths, all the scriptures, all the words of great Mahatmas become a waste & are no use to such a person.
Liberation is Eternal Bliss. Sri Sri Sankara says in most of his works that a person seeks happiness. Every one is seeking happiness, but in the external world. Some one is seeking happiness in money, some one in fame, some in love, some in marriage, some in children – the list goes on. The ultimate goal of each person is happiness. No body wants to suffer or get sorrow. Every one wants happiness that stays forever.
But this happiness is limited so one has to think of Eternal Bliss which has to be the goal of humanity and the achievement of this is called Liberation.
When a person has understood the ultimate and final goal, now the search or the paths to that goal is to be found. If a person knows the goal and still doesn’t work towards it, then the knowing of the goal is of no use. Therefore the path to that goal has to be found.
These were the thoughts of the ancient Rishis who wanted to find out Eternal Bliss. The Rishis found out that everything in the external world is finite alone, all actions, all materials are finite or limited by time and space. Such things which are limited by time and space can never give infinite Bliss as the Bliss or happiness obtained from them will also will finite only. Therefore they started thinking about Eternal Bliss. They then found out that if the changing things in the world have to exist, they require a changeless substratum. They found out that this changeless substratum is without any change & hence not limited by space. They also found out that this substratum remains the same in the three states of Waking, Dream and Deep Sleep which constitutes the shortest span of time (24 hours). Therefore this substratum is beyond time also.
Thus, this changeless substratum is beyond time and space & hence it can give infinite Bliss. They therefore turned their attention towards this substratum. They found out that this substratum is of the nature of Eternal Bliss which is enjoyed during the state of Deep Sleep. Thus, if this substratum is attained or known, then Eternal Bliss is enjoyed & the ultimate goal is achieved.
What is this substratum?
This substratum cannot be different from oneself. This substratum is the basis of the world consisting of time and space. This is the Consciousness.
How does one know that the substratum full of Bliss is Consciousness?
If Consciousness is there, time and space & world are there. If Consciousness is not there, then no world, no time and no space, nothing exists.
This Consciousness is full of Bliss because in Deep Sleep, no object is present and this Bliss is enjoyed.
Therefore, if a person removes the obstacles to realizing this Consciousness, then he can enjoy the Bliss in this very state itself.
Is this Consciousness separate from oneself?
Consciousness can never be separate from oneself. Consciousness is one’s own very nature.
Then why doesn’t a person realize that “I am Consciousness”?
Because of wrong notions of “I” and “mine” and due to wrong identification with the body and mind.
The only thing a person needs to do to realize one’s own very nature of Consciousness and rejoice in the Eternal Bliss is to remove the ignorance about one’s own nature.
This ignorance veils add to latent tendencies or vasanas which makes a person turn outward to this world rather than realizing one’s own real nature by turning inward and trying to find out “Who I am?”.
Since this ultimate goal is not something to be attained, but to be realized (that which has been forgotten), therefore this is termed as Realization.
All the paths to this ultimate goal of realization work towards removal of ignorance veils alone. Thus, all the paths finally lead to the ultimate non-dual knowledge that “I am That, I am the Self of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, I am all the world, there is nothing different from Me, whatever is seen is Me alone (as in dream)”.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi talks about the various paths in this work of his. One of the simplest paths to this realization is the path of action. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the first two slokas mentioned the limitations and problems of action (done without the proper attitude). In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi puts forth clearly the path of action wherein a person reaches the final stage of realizing one’s own real nature.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gives two main points about this path of action
1. Offering the action to God
2. Action without any expectation
As mentioned earlier, removal of ignorance veil is the aim of all the paths and all the scriptures. This ignorance about the Self creates wrong notions and wrong identifications with the body and the mind. This identified “I” is called Ego or Ahamkaara. The removal of Ego makes a person to realize the source of the Ego which is pure Consciousness and that “I am that Consciousness”.
When a person does any actions, the two things that follow or rather that go along with the action are the notion of Doer and expectation of fruits.
Each person while doing action has the notion that I am doing the action. And the action is done with a motive. These two again add to ignorance and lead one to sorrow alone. The doer notion creates problems when something goes wrong or somebody criticizes the action. When a person criticizes the action, then it becomes criticizing the Ego or myself (the wrongly identified “I”). What a person does not know here is that “I” am not at all affected by the criticism or appreciation. Even during criticism or during appreciation, it is the same “I” or pure Consciousness that experiences both of these. Since this is not known, the pure Consciousness gets identified itself with the Ego and the action. Therefore all criticisms and appreciations become mine. These appreciations might not stay for long & opinions of people need not much time to change. Therefore, he is a fool who things these actions and appreciations as his. If these actions are his, then the results also must be his & the results must also be controlled by him. But when bad results comes, the person thinks “Why did I get this bad result, I did good only and I even prayed to the Almighty, why did you do this to me Oh Lord!!!”. But when good results come the doer thinks, “I did the action; it is my capability that gave me this result”.
Thus, when good result is achieved, God is forgotten & when bad result id got, He is remembered. What idiotic nature and foolishness?
Even when the scriptures proclaim and experience tells him that “I am neither the doer nor the enjoyer, I am the Self or pure Consciousness of the nature of Bliss”, the person is not willing to accept it, but runs after the meagre sensual pleasures (that are the source of sorrow alone).
But when the wise person tries to follow and find out real happiness through the path propounded by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and other great saints, he realizes that “I am neither the doer nor the enjoyer”. He also realizes that the expectation of the fruits or results is the cause for problems. When there is no expectation, he always remains the same. And at that time, he attains purity of mind & a pure mind is able to realize the Self.
Why a pure mind is required for realizing the Self?
The Self is to be realized and not attained like heaven or other worldly things. The Self is the subject; it is one’s own very nature. To realize the Self, one has to turn inward. When the mind is full of thoughts, it turns a person outward & such a person can never realize the inward and subtle Self. Therefore, purity of mind is required. Purity of mind is nothing but mind which is always still or like an ocean without waves. A person can go deep into the ocean if there are no waves. Similarly the substratum of the entire changing world, the mind and body is known only when the mind is free and pure. Therefore, the Self is realized only when the mind is pure.
Once a person realizes the Self, then he also realizes that whatever is present is the Self alone. When he realizes that everything is the Self alone as in the Dream State (where the world and any objects are only the dreamer), he doesn’t get sad or deluded or happy. He always rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self. Only when duality is perceived, a person has sorrow because of seeing multitude and difference. When difference is removed, then there is no sorrow but happiness alone. This happiness is enjoyed by every person in Deep Sleep. The Eternal Bliss of the Self is much more than & incomparable even with the happiness that a person gets in Deep Sleep!
Thus, through this path of action, purity of mind is achieved and which in turn leads one to liberation or realization of one’s own real nature.
Therefore the two conditions that determine the path of action are “Action without expectations” and “offering the action to the Lord”.
Vedas speak basically about two types of actions
Sakaama Karma – action done with expectations
Nishkaama karma – action done without any expectations
Sakaama Karma leads one to bondage while Nishkaama Karma leads one to purity of mind & thereby to realization.
The very ancient Ishavasya Upanishad says about this Karma Marga
“Kurvan eva iha karmaani jijeevishet satam shamaah
Evam tvayi na anyathethosthi na karma lipyathe nare”
A person should desire to live 100 years doing action (with the attitude of renunciation of fruits & with the thought that everything is God alone). Only by this way it is ensured that actions and their fruits will not cling to the person.
Sri Krishna says in Gita
“Tasmaat sarveshu kaleshu maam anusmara yudhya cha”
Fight war or do your actions but always thinking of me.
“Ananyaah chintayantho maam ye janaah pari upaasathe
Teshaam nitya abhiyuktanaam yoga kshemam vahami aham”
Those who think of Me alone & do actions (offering it to me), I take care of their good and well-being.
Therefore this path of action when done with the right attitude will lead one to Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this first three slokas has explained about Karma Yoga, in the next seven slokas ie.., from sloka four to sloka ten he explains about Bhakti Yoga.
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Introduction to Bhakthi Yoga
Bhakthi Yoga or the path of devotion is one of the path that leads one to the ultimate Reality of oneness of oneself with God. This is the simplest of all paths as this doesn’t require much intellectual thinking or logic. This doesn’t require study of scriptures nor sitting in meditational postures.
Bhakthi can be defined broadly as two – Apara Bhakthi or lower devotion and Para Bhakthi or higher devotion.
When a devotee always tries to constantly remember God, there is still the difference between the devotee and God. Such type of devotion wherein one finds difference between the devotee and God is termed as Apara Bhakthi or lower devotion.
That devotion wherein the difference between the devotee and God vanishes and what remains is pure Existence or Consciousness alone is called Para Bhakthi. This para Bhakthi is also called Jnaana or Atma Jnaana or Brahma Vidya.
The normal Bhakthi that people speak of is Apara bhakthi alone. This devotion is very powerful indeed that it removes all delusion, all sorrow and leads one to Para Bhakthi wherein the Oneness is realized and everything vanishes to becomes just ONE alone.
What are the characteristics of Bhakthi?
Understanding what Bhakthi or devotion is very essential because there are certain wrong notions among people about devotion. It is normally thought that a person who wears either the sacred ash or other marks, the person who regularly goes to temple, the person who at times sings about God and talks about God are all very devoted and hence devotees of God.
This notion is completely wrong. This is not Bhakthi or devotion. This is just a small part of the real devotion. These all are just means or ways to get the real devotion. If a person thinks that by going to a temple daily, he is a devotee – then there is no greater fool than him.
The above mentioned is what the scriptures and great saints proclaim and not mere statements.
Devotion can be put in a single word as SURRENDER. Now the question has to be answered as to surrender to whom? Is it surrender to the sense organs and the sense objects? Is it surrender to the wife or to lust? Is it to power or money?
No, Devotion is surrender to God, the Almighty.
In order to understand about devotion clearly, one needs to know first about God and then about surrender and other such qualities of devotion.
Who is God or What is God? – A wonderful topic which can be talked for days on and on which people can debate for long days.
The perfect answer to this question is a counter-question – Who is not God? What is not God?
God, according to the scriptures, is Omni-Present, Omni-
Potent and Omni-Scient. God is present in each and every place. God knows each and every thing. God is the substratum for this world. God is the final cause of this seemingly existent world. He is the creator, He is the protector, He is the destroyer of this seemingly existent world. God is what scriptures declare as Brahman, Self and all.
The word used for God in Sanskrit and scriptures is Ishwarah – Isha means ruler – thus God is the ruler of this world and everything that is present or that appears as existing. Here, ruler doesn’t mean kings or presidents – who are very much selfish and have limited vision alone. But, here ruler means one who controls everything, one who is aware of everything, one who is the cause for everything. Such a God is being put forth in the Upanishads and the Vedas.
Srimad Bhagavatha says
“Vadanthi Tat Tattva vidhah yad jnaanam advayam
Brahma ithi paramaatma ithi bhagavaan ithi sabdhyathe”
The people who know the ultimate Reality of non-dual knowledge or non-dual Consciousness call it as Brahman, Paramatman, Bhagavan and all.
Therefore, the ultimate Reality or Absolute Reality is what is meant by God. This God is not separate from oneself but it is one’s own very nature itself. The Self or Consciousness is God itself and God is not separate from this Consciousness. Realization of this ultimate Reality which is non-dual in nature is the aim and goal of devotion. The lower devotion leads slowly one to the higher devotion wherein this ultimate Reality is realized. Therefore the aim or goal of Vedanta is to merge into God, is to realize that “I am the God who is present everywhere”.
Now, we have seen what God is – everything that is being seen is God alone, everything that is not being seen is also God alone. Whatever was, whatever is, whatever will be is God or Brahman alone.
If a person has to realize the Reality of God or the ultimate Reality that “I am God” – there needs to be some spiritual practices through which alone a person can realize it.
Now, a doubt might arise that if I am God, then why should I pray?
This prayer is required to realize that I am God because now this ultimate Reality has been veiled through ignorance. When a person says “I will not pray” – this itself indicates that “I” is limited to a body and mind alone and that there are somethings and some people different from this “I”. This “I” that is speaking so is the Ego and not the Self or Consciousness. This Ego causes the veiling of the Consciousness and the Bliss which is God and therefore makes one do all sorts of things and enjoy happiness and sorrow. It is the killing of this Ego and realizing one’s own real “I” – the pure and unlimited “I” which is beyond the body and the mind and everything in this world – is the aim of devotion.
Even when a person doesn’t do prayers or he does prayers – he is the Self or God alone. But unless this Reality is realized, there will be sorrows and sufferings arising out of attachment like “I” and “mine”. Devotion is to be followed in order to remove this wrong notion, in order to remove this attachment and the sufferings which are illusory in nature and have no Reality at all.
Therefore, prayers are required, devotion is required so that this ultimate Reality of Oneness which has been forgotten has to realized through removal of the veils and obstructions to it.
The key word that can be used to define devotion to God is SURRENDER. Surrender is not mere speaking or telling at all times that “you are there, God you take of everything” and then doing bad things and all. Surrender is not just crying out to God at times of sorrow and forgetting him at times of happiness. But it is remembrance of God at all times.
Whenever something good happens – His grace
Whenever something bad happens – His Wish.
Only when this attitude is completely present in a person, that person can be called a devotee.
Sri Krishna speaks about devotion in the second sloka of Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 12
“Mayi aavesha mano ye maam nitya yuktaa upaasathe
Sraadhayaa parayaa upethaah te me yukta tama mataah”
Krishna mentions three qualities for a devotee
Fixing the mind unto Me
Ever steadfast in Me
knowing or realizing me as the final goal
Devotion is not just thinking of God twice a day but it is remembrance of God at all times. It is knowing that God is the final goal which has to be achieved. The moment a person craves for some materialistic things, that very moment he ceases to become a devotee. Craving for materialistic things is fine if the thought about God and the thought that God is the final goal is present. Unless a person realizes that God is the final goal – God is full of Bliss alone and where all sorrows and sufferings vanish – the person will never aspire for and work towards that goal. Therefore knowing God as the final goal is very important.
Going by the above definition given by Lord Krishna, a person needs to have complete and unconditional surrender. Surrender to God and thought of God should be beyond any conditions. If a person says that “let me get old and I will think about God” – this thought is limited by time and age. Therefore this is not unconditional surrender. If a person says that “I have to cook food for my husband and hence I don’t have time to think about God now and will go to the temple and think about him”, this is not unconditional surrender.
One needs to remember the story of Draupadi’s vastrapaharana in Mahabharatha where Draupadi was holding her saree in one hand and calling for Krishna with the other hand outstretched. Krishna did not go to help her. Then she called Krishna with both her hands (leaving the one hand which she was holding to the saree which meant that she still did not have unconditional and complete surrender). At that time, Krishna helped her out.
Therefore, God must be thought at all times, the thought of God should be such that it is always present in the person. Such a person alone is a true devotee. When a devotee is cooking, he will have the thought of God and think about God while cooking. He will not just think about God, but see the stove as God, the food as God, the fire as God. When a devotee is working in the office, he will be constantly thinking about God alone, the various instruments or equipments that he uses for his work will be seen as God alone, his boss will be God alone, his co-workers will be God alone.
God is present everywhere and hence there is no place where God is not present. A person can think about God, pray to God wherever he is, whatever he is doing. Such a person alone is a true devotee.
Now, one may ask “then what is the use of going to temples if God is present everywhere”?
Even though the milk is the essence of a cow, still we get milk only if we milk the udder of the cow and not the ear or tail of the cow. Similarly God is present everywhere, but because of ignorance veils a person can’t recognize the presence of God everywhere & hence God is prominently seen or felt in certain places like temples, ashrams and all.
Initially a person goes to the temple so that he constantly remembers God – then after that he realizes that the thought of God is continuously in him and hence now everywhere and at all times, he sees God alone. Therefore at this state, he doesn’t need to go to temples anymore.
One needs to remember the story of Tukaram who used to frequently visit the temple and talk with Vittala (Lord Vishnu). But once, he realized this ultimate Reality of Oneness of God, he stopped going to the temple. Lord was a bit worried (not real worry but just for the sake of the devotee) and hence decided to enquire and went to Tukaram’s house. Lord asked Tukaram “Why didn’t you come to the temple for so many days?”. Tukaram replied back “Don’t try to fool me, you are present everywhere, then what is the need to go and seek you specifically in the temple”. Hearing this, Lord smiled and replied to him “I wanted you to realize this truth and you have realized this ultimate Reality”.
Therefore, God should be constantly remembered.
Narada defines Bhakthi in Narada Bhakthi Sutraas as
“Tad arpita akhila achaaratha tad vismarane parama vyaakulathaa cha”
Offering everything unto Lord and getting really sad when one forgets him (even for second).
This sense of complete surrender and complete thought to God is real devotion. Such a person alone is a real devotee who ever thinks of God, ever offers his work to God, ever partakes everything as the prasadam of God, ever sings glories of God, ever is established in the single thought of God alone.
Now, one may have doubt whether one should worship (Saguna Roopa) God with form or Nirguna Roopa (formless God)?
God is without forms. But even though he is without forms, as he is all-knowing and present everywhere – he can manifest in any form. Hence God can exist with forms too. The ultimate Reality is that God has no forms because when a form-God is thought of, the form limits God to a single body – and this contradicts the all-pervading nature of God.
But it is not easy for people who are so body-conscious to think about formless God and hence the form-God serves to give them concentration and slowly realize the ultimate Reality that God is present everywhere.
Therefore God might take any form of Jesus or Vishnu or Siva. The form is just used for constant thought of God alone and not that the form seen is real.
Therefore, DEVOTION is CONSTANT, UNBROKEN THOUGHT OF GOD and TOTAL AND UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER TO GOD.
But, a person has to remember here that this devotion where the devotee is different from God is lower devotion only. The higher devotion or knowledge or realization is when the difference between the devotee and God vanishes.
Bhakthi or devotion is one of the easiest path to the ultimate Reality and to Absolute and Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self. A bhaktha is one who is always immersed in the thought of God, he is a devotee who has God as the final goal and each action of his is towards achieving that goal.
One famous sloka that every one knows speaks about bhakthi
“Kaayena vaacha manaasaindriyair va budhyaatmana va prakriteh svabhaavaat
Karomi yad yad sakalam parasmai narayanaayethi samarpayaami”
Whatever I do with words, body, mind, sense organs, the intellect or the Ego – everything is offered to Narayana, the Supreme Being or Brahman alone.
Sri Sri Sankara speaks about the same in his Shiva maanasa pooja
“Kara charana kritam va kaayajam karmajam va
Sravana nayanajam va maanasam va aparaadham
Vihitam avihitam va sarvam etat shamasva
Jaya jaya karunaabdhe sri mahadeva sambho”
O Lord Siva, whatever wrong I have done through hands, feet, body or through action – whatever bad things I have done through hearing, seeing and through mind (knowingly or unknowingly) – forgive all these sins O Lord Siva who is full of compassion alone.
“Yad yad karma karothi tad tad akhilam sambho tava aaraadhanam”
O Lord, whatever actions I do, those are your worship alone.
This attitude of complete and total surrender along with deep devotion is real bhakthi. All other things are just means to this real Apara Bhakthi or lower devotion (where the distinction between God and the devotee is there). Once a devotee completely follows this Apara Bhakthi, slowly he merges into the Almighty full of Consciousness. Hence now what remains is Consciousness alone devoid of the distinctions of devotee and God, devoid of distinctions of caste and creed because now there is only ONE here and no TWO things.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in further slokas tells us that this Para Bhakthi where the devotee and God merge into ONE is greater and superior to the Apara Bhakthi because in the former there remains no distinctions and hence no sorrow and sufferings. But in the latter, there still are distinctions and hence sorrows and sufferings result from this distinction.
Once a person completely follows Apara Bhakthi – slowly the devotee realizes that the difference between him and God are not real but only temporarily appearing and illusory and hence unreal only.
But in order to reach the state of Para Bhakthi, one needs to follow Apara Bhakthi – devotion endowed with complete surrender, full faith and steadfast in the path & to the goal of realization.
Krishna explains about such a devotee in beautiful slokas in the 12th chapter of Gita (the complete chapter consisting of 20 slokas speaks about devotion alone and is worth reading and contemplating and putting it into practice).
Krishna says to Arjuna that “O Arjuna! Fix your mind and intellect unto Me and thence you will merge into Me, there is no doubt about this”.
Now, a person might not be able to completely think about God at all times and fix the mind unto God directly, therefore Krishna puts forth three different ways to achieve this complete fixing of mind.
If a person is not able to completely fix his mind unto Me, practice fixing of mind unto Me and thereby you will attain Me.
If you are not able to even achieve this through practice, do works for Me (here doing work means service to the Lord and his devotees, service to temple and sacred places and all) and thereby you will attain Me.
If you are not able even to do work for me, just do all actions without expectations and you will attain Me.
The path that Krishna tells in these three methods is beautiful indeed. It is not easy for a person whose mind is used to travel into various thoughts and objects, to all of a sudden, concentrate on the Lord and fixing the mind unto Lord. Therefore, Krishna says do practice, try to do it slowly. Put all your effort into it and you will surely achieve it. Even then, if a person is not able to achieve, do works for my sake, do service to my devotees and thereby you will attain Me.
Now, another problem comes here that even doing work for God is not possible because normally people are always afraid of the society and other people in the society. A person is afraid to wear the sacred ashes in his forehead – because his boss might take it wrong! And because the people who see him will suffer! These are idiotic statements of fools. But, as the most compassionate Guru, Lord Krishna even goes down a level and tells that if you are not openly able to do works for me, do all actions without any expectations and you will surely attain Me.
Therefore, an individual has lot of options as to become a devotee. A devotee need not even go to temple at all – but he might be the greatest devotee of all for the Lord. Therefore, all actions whatever are being done will not affect a devotee because for the devotee there is nothing except the Lord. For a devotee, all actions, all karmas, all fruits are all leelas and manifestations of the Almighty alone & hence they are the Lord himself and not something different.
This is why all great scriptures proclaim that “everything is God alone, all this is pervaded by the Almighty”.
Krishna says in Gita chapter 9
“Kaunteya prathijaanihi na me bhaktah pranashyathi”
O Arjuna, Know that my devotee will never perish or suffer.
“Sarva dharmaan parityajya maam ekam saranam vraja
Aham tvaa sarva paapebhyo mokshayishyaami ma shuchah”
Leaving or renouncing all actions and dharmas, take refuge in Me alone – I will surely save you from all sins – don’t worry.
These are not mere statements of the Lord but these are words out of the mouth of the compassionate Almighty and who saved people who took refuge in him. We can see the stories of Kuchela, Sudhaama, Uddhava and all who were saved by the Almighty from all sorrows and sufferings.
Even in recent times, one should remember Mira, Vallabhacharya, Madhvacharya, Ramanujacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and all who were saved completely by the great Almighty. Hence a devotee is never left away to perish by the Almighty, but the Lord himself takes pains to save the devotee and to confer Eternal Bliss of the Self to the devotee.
One needs to remember the story of the great Jnaani like Ambarisha whom Durvaasa cursed but the Sudarshan Chakra of Vishnu protected Ambarisha and went to kill Durvaasa. But the great King saved Durvaasa (saved the person who cursed him).
One should really remember such stories of great devotees who spend each moment in the thought of the Almighty alone.
One may think now that what attitude should I have towards the Almighty, should it be that of lover to a love or that of a disciple to his Guru, or of a child to his mother, or that of friend?
Srimad Bhagavatha answers this and tells about Nava Vidha Bhakthi (Nine types of Bhakthi – or bhaavaas of Bhakthi).
“Sravanam smaranam keerthanam vishnooh paada sevanam
Archanam vandhanam daasyam sakhyam atma nivedanam”
Hearing or listening to the glories of the Almighty
Remembering the glories of the Almighty
Singing the glories and names of the Almighty
Vishnu’s paada seva or worship of Vishnu’s lotus feet (means worship or seva to Lord’s devotees too). Here Vishnu means all-pervading alone.
Doing chanting or pooja of the Lord’s name like Lalitha Sahasranaama or Vishnu Sahasranaama
Offering salutation to the Almighty as pervading the whole universe
Being a servant to the Almighty and his devotees
Friendly attitude to the Almighty – Arjuna had this bhaava with Krishna
Atma Nivedanam – means offering oneself to the Lord
All these nine type of bhakthis help one to reach the ultimate state of Oneness. But the last bhakthi of offering oneself completely takes one very close to the ultimate state.
It is only in this bhakthi that there is no sign of Ego and humility is present in complete. Here, there vanishes the distinction between the devotee and the Lord as only the Lord exists of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.
But a person need to worry if he is not able to completely offer himself/herself to the Lord, it is enough if the thought of God is constantly present in the person. When the thought of God is constantly present in the individual, his mind becomes pure and slowly the dualities of sorrow, happiness vanish. Therefore, the devotee always remains the same – with only a single thought of God alone. Finally even this thought vanishes and only ONE Existence of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss remains.
This is the final state of Bhakthi where there is neither God nor devotee but One alone. And this can be achieved only when there is total and complete surrender to the Supreme Lord, when there is not even a single moment when the thought of God is not present. Such a ceaseless though of God alone is capable of taking a person to the final state of Eternal Bliss, the Bliss which everyone is searching in the external world.
Kaaya Vaang manah kaaryam uttamam
Poojanam japah chittanam kramaath…..4
Kaaya vaang manah karyam – Action done through the body, words and mind which are
Poojanam, japah, chintanam – pooja or offering, japah or chanting and meditation respectively
Kramaath uttamam – are superior respectively with the previous action.
Action can be done with the body, words and mind (Thought, Word and Deed). The action done with body is pooja, the action done with words is chanting and action done with the mind is meditation. The action done with words is superior to action done with the body. The action done with the mind is superior to action done with the words.
In other words, action done with the mind is superior to action done with body and words.
Upanishads proclaim that actions are done with the three instruments that a man has got. The three instruments through which action are continuously performed are the body, words and mind.
These are respectively termed in Sanskrit as Kaaya, Vaak and Manah – Karma.
The aim of any action is removal of the ignorance veil of the mind so that one gets the Eternal Bliss and peace inherent in the Self. The Self can be realized only when the mind is pure and turned inward. Thus, the very aim of all action is removal of the thoughts in the mind. The path of action accomplishes through destroying the Ego which causes all thoughts to arise.
This action can be either done through the body, words or the mind.
Action done with the body – Pooja
The action done with the body is called Pooja. A person goes to the temple and he circumbulates the temple. This is action done through the body. This action either becomes bondage in the form of “my God should be circumbulated and this I have to do as some one has asked me to do for my well being” or becomes the remover of other bondages if it is done with the proper attitude.
Putting it in Swami Chinmayananda’s words, each human being is working continuously at the body and mind level. The action done through the body becomes a source of bondage when it is done with the attitude of doership and with expectation of the fruits. Therefore in order to remove these obstacles of Ego and expectation of fruits, one has to continuously do pooja or offerings to the Lord with the body. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi implies by action done through the body. People can not live without doing actions with the body. We can see people who sit idle but biting their nails and doing other such things. Thus, human beings can not live without doing bodily action. Therefore it is essential that a person first tries to purify the actions done with the body. This can happen only when action is done with the right attitude.
When a person does each body action as a pooja to the Almighty, the actions cease to be actions but become offering or pooja to the Almighty. Such action removes all the obstacles to liberation and each moment becomes a joyous moment. The person becomes a mere witness to the activities happening around him. Slowly, thus, he realizes that whatever is seen is a long dream alone & therefore always rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Sri Sri Sankara beautifully explains how to do this pooja in Shiva Manasa Pooja
“Atma Tvam girija matih sahacharaah praana sareeram graham
Pooja te vishayopabhoga rachana nidra samaadhisthithih
Sanchaara padayoh pradakshina vidhih stotraani sarva girah
Yad yad karma karothi tad tad akhilam shambho tava aaraadhanam”
O Lord Shambhu, you are my Self, your consort Gouri is my intellect, your ganaas are my prana, my body is your house. The offerings are my enjoyment of sensual pleasures, my Sleep is Samadhi (absorption in you), all my movements are circumbulation to you, all my words are stotras or hymns in your name – whatever actions I do, that all are your praises and done for you.
Thus, all the bodily actions become a pooja to the almighty. The action of walking becomes a pradakshina of the Lord who is present everywhere & from whom this illusory world has come. The action of Sleep becomes a Samadhi where the seemingly individual Self merges into the Supreme Being or the Almighty. Each moment of the hands is pranaams or salutations to the Lord. Each moment of the body is a celebration and dancing for the Almighty.
When a person thus performs all the actions for the Almighty, his mind becomes pure. He neither craves for things, nor does he gets distressed with things. He always remains equipoised in the pooja for the Almighty.
Each and every moment of his body becomes an offering to the Almighty. Thereby, the bodily actions are purified & the person remains unaffected by the bodily actions.
The next level of purification is the purification of the words.
Words are very powerful if used rightly. Each one of us know that it is words which causes most of the problems between people. Two people fight amongst themselves because of a person calling another person an IDIOT!
Most of the problems or sufferings in the empirical world happen due to words alone. Therefore a person has to control his words. This control can be made through Japa or chanting. Words are very powerful indeed that it can give highly desirous outputs.
When a person keeps on chanting a mantra for lakhs of times, that mantra gets tremendous effect. Any moment the man feels depressed or dejected & he utters the mantra, he feels rejuvenated and all sorrows vanish. This can be experienced by any one. Any person can try chanting any mantra – OM NAMAH SHIVAYA or OM NAMO NARAYANAYA – for some days and they can feel the vibrations and effects of the mantra.
Another type of chanting is chanting of hymns in praise of Lord. The most famous and common chants include the Lalitha Sahasranaama and the Vishnu Sahasranaama. These chants are in Sanskrit & they praise the Lord and his various actions. Therefore these praises purify the words (unknowingly) and also these make the person remember the Almighty at all times. Therefore the Ego is never given a chance to rise & due to the effect of this, purification of words happen.
A person who follows any of these chantings will never utter any bad word. Each word from his mouth will be good alone & be beneficial for the society (as a whole).
Patanjali tells in his yoga Sutras the importance of Satya or Truth (speaking Truth) and gives the effect of speaking truth as
“Satya prathisthayaam kriya phala aasrayatvam”
One who is always established in speaking truth – whatever words he utters, they will become true.
Such is the effect or importance of words. Unless a person gets the words and body under control & purification of both of these occur – the mind of the person will not be purified. The words are uttered because of thoughts in the mind alone. When the words are not pure, even if the mind wants to be pure, it will not be pure. Therefore, purity at both these levels are important and the ways to this are doing pooja or offerings with the body & chanting about God’s praises with words.
The most superior and important of purification is of the mind
Purification of mind can be completely accomplished only when bodily and with words, purification has been accomplished & all actions done through the body and mind are done with the right attitude.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here mentions one of the important means of purification of the mind, meditation. Meditation is one-pointedness. Let’s say a person closes his eyes and tries to concentrate on Lord Vishnu. Now, initially other distractions or thoughts come into his mind. But slowly by practice, all other thoughts subdue & only the thought of Lord Vishnu is present. This state where only One object or thought is present is called Meditation.
As mentioned earlier, thoughts are the main cause of problems and sufferings. These thoughts obstruct a person to enjoy the inherent Bliss. But when a person removes all thoughts and concentrates on just one thought – the mind gets purified, there is no other thought for comparisions, likes and dislikes. Therefore the inherent Bliss of the Self is experienced at such times. Even though, the real Bliss of the Self is not completely enjoyed even in that state of one-thought, but still that Bliss or happiness experienced at that moment can be used to hint at the real Bliss of the Self (because the Bliss of the Self can never be expressed because the Self is beyond words and thoughts & only things which are limited by time and space can be talked about or thought about).
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentioned in the previous sloka that actions which are done as an offering to the Almighty & without expectation of the fruits leads to purity of mind & thereby to realization, in this sloka Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gives the list of main actions that can be performed.
Summarizing this sloka, Action is performed at the three levels of body, words and mind. The action performed at each of this level needs to be done with the right attitude. The action performed by the body should be done as a pooja or offering to the Almighty, the words should be chanting or praising about the Lord and his leelas and the mind should be made to meditate upon the Lord.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains meditation and its details while dealing with Raja Yoga or path of control of mind.
Just to mention how Deep the bodily and word actions can be performed with the right attitude, Sankara’s final sloka in his Soundarya Lahari is worth quoting
“O Mother of words!!!! Like showing dipa or lantern to the Sun, like taking its own water and offering abhisheka to the ocean, like offering the chandrakantha stone to the– similarly I have used your own words and praised you with it.
Let us all try to have the right attitude and perform the various actions with the three instruments of body, words and mind thereby moving ahead to realizing one’s own real nature & rejoicing in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Jagada Isha yukta sevanam
Astha murthy brid deva poojanam…..5
Jagada Sevanam Isha Yukta – Service of the world having the idea that God is present everywhere,
Astha Murthy Brid Deva Poojanam – is worship of God having eight-form or eight-fold form.
Service of the world is service of God having eight-fold form, having the idea that everything is God alone.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is here explaining a special type of worship which is termed in the Upanishads as worship of Eight-Form God – God which has eight forms or God who is manifested in eight forms.
As we have learned, the mind is full of thoughts & always in search of pleasure in the external world. This extroverted mind needs to be turned introvert in order to realize the Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self. The path of action is performed so that the person gains purity of mind & by this he realizes his own very nature.
Ervin Schrodinger in modern physics says”Conciousness can never be experienced in plural but ony in the singular; Conciousness is the singular of which the plural is unknown”.
The Self or Consciousness is non-dual. It is the ultimate Reality of this seemingly existing world. It is the final and supreme cause of this illusory world. This cause can never be dual because duality again implies that there is a cause for the two things which are seen – thereby Consciousness or Brahman or the Self ceases to be the final cause.
And Vedas proclaim that “that from which this world has come, that in which this world is sustained, that unto which this world will merge into (at the time of destruction), Know that to be Brahman”
This is what Veda Vyaasa wrote about Brahman in the second sutra of Brahma Sutra “Janmaadi asya yathah” – Brahman is that from which birth etc. (meaning birth, sustanence and death) occur or happen.
There, the Consciousness is non-dual. But a person sees duality in this world. How is this possible?
This duality is illusory and doesn’t have any Reality. This illusory world is nothing but like a dream world. In dream, a new world is created and a person seems to be enjoying in that state. But when he wakes up, he realizes that there was never a dream world & everything was his own creation alone. Similarly this waking world is also a long dream where the duality seems to exist but the substratum for this illusory duality is Non-dual. This substratum is termed as Brahman or Consciousness.
Srimad Bhagavatha says
“Vadanthi tat tattvavidhah tattvam yad jnaanam advayam
Brahma ithi parmatma ithi bhagavaan ithi sabdhyathe”
Those who have known about the ultimate Reality which is non-dual and Consciousness call this Reality as Brahman, Paramatman and Bhagavan.
This Reality is not different from the individual Self. The seemingly individual Self is not individual – it is one as the Supreme Self. This difference in the nature of the individual and Supreme Being is due to ignorance alone. This equality of the individual and the Supreme is got through various Upanishadic statements like “TAT TVAM ASI” – THAT THOU ART. Even a person’s very experience proves this fact. It is Consciousness that is sustaining this individual being as well as the creator Brahma. The underlying principle of the name and form of Vishnu is also Consciousness alone. This Consciousness of Vishnu cannot be different from the Consciousness that is present in the limited Jeeva because Consciousness doesn’t have any degradation. This Consciousness cannot be two also because the very nature of Consciousness itself is Seer or perceiver. If there is multiple Consciousness, then the Seer will also become the Seen which is not at all possible. Therefore the Consciousness is the substratum of everything that is seemingly appearing in this world.
Also, leave out Consciousness and there is nothing at all, no world, no Krishna, no Vishnu and no Siva. But when Consciousness is there, everything exists. This only shows that these changing objects are born and die. There is no change at all possible in Consciousness and Consciousness is non-dual and hence there cannot be any change at all or birth and death of objects is not at all possible.
This finally takes us to the conclusion that there is only one thing here – Consciousness or Self. Whatever is seemingly appearing is only Consciousness alone. These objects are seen as different because of ignorance.
Removal of ignorance is the aim of Vedanta and of spiritual practices and not attainment of Vaikunta or Swarga. The Self or Consciousness one already is. What one needs to do is remove the obstacles which are present to realize one’s own nature of Consciousness.
The path of action is one of the path which helps in removal of ignorance through purification of mind.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explained in the previous sloka that there are three modes of actions or action can be done through three instruments of body, words and mind. In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains a special type of action done with the body or special type of worship.
This worship need not be done through the body but is mainly performed through the mind (and the body also).
A clear study of the external world and the individual will take one to the conclusion that whatever is seen outside is also present in the body or in the individual Self.
The world has a creator or ruler which is Ishwara or God.
This individual Jeeva has a ruler which is Consciousness. (Jeeva or individual Self is reflected Consciousness, Consciousness reflected in the intellect).
The world is the body of God.
The limited body is the body of the Self or seemingly limited Self.
The world is made up of five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.
The individual body is also made up of five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether.
The world is always changing but God is the same (changeless).
The body is always changing whereas the Self or Consciousness remains the same.
Thus, when the great Rishis of ancient time analyzed the world-God and the individual body-Self – they found that these two are not separate entities but these have the same essence.
They figured out that the difference between the world and this body is only in name and form. They similarly found out that the difference between God and the Self is only in the objects which limit them (the world and the body respectively). Thus, they found that this seemingly individual Self is the same as God (and not different from God) and that the body and the world are only illusory existences in the substratum of God and Self which are one and the same principle of Consciousness.
The individual Self and its instruments of body, mind and intellect are in total called Vyasthi meaning individual.
The God and his instruments of world are in total called Samasthi meaning totality.
The Rishis thus realized the oneness between the individuality and totality (or the essence of both is the same).
The one way to realize the equality of Samasthi and Vyasthi is to see Samasthi in Vyasthi and Vyasthi in Samasthi. This involves seeing God and the world in the Self & seeing the Self in the world and God.
The only way to realize the oneness of God and the Self is to remove the limitedness of the Self. This is done by seeing God everywhere. Seeing God or the substratum in each and every object.
Thus, whenever a person sees an object, he sees God in the object & asserts that God or Consciousness is the underlying principle of the object.
This form of worship is called Eight-form worship. The world that we see and the individual Self and its body can be said to have eight components. These eight components of the world are – the five primal gross elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether – the Sun, the moon and the Purusha (or the Consciousness).
If a person similarly analyzes this individual body, he finds that the body is made up of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, the Intellect (representing the Sun), the moon (the mind) and the Self or Consciousness.
The Sun represents removal of ignorance and denotes illumination. The intellect is that faculty which helps in determination and to find out what is real and what is unreal. Therefore, it is the intellect which illumines objects & removes ignorance about external objects. Also it is the intellect through which the Reality of one’s own nature is realized (as it is the place where Consciousness gets reflected). Therefore the Sun represents the intellect.
The moon represents waxing and waning. The mind is that which also enters into (Sankalpa & Vikalpa) thoughts and distraction. These thoughts are always fluctuating. Swami Vivekananda termed the mind as a “drunken monkey”. Therefore the moon represents the mind which always fluctuates between thoughts and objects.
Purusha means “Puri sayanaat purushah” – that which is present in the town of body is called Purushah. Purusha also means “Poornam anena sarvam ithi purushah” – that which is present in FULL in all the objects. The very ancient Purusha Sookta hymn speaks about one Purusha which is the sum of all the worlds put together. This Purusha is Conscious in nature because it is from which this world comes and such a thing cannot be insentient. Similarly the Self or seemingly individual Self is also of the nature of Consciousness because it illumines all objects through the intellect, mind and sense organs. Therefore the Purusha represents the Self.
Therefore the Eight-Form of the world is synonymous with the individual Self. Through this worship of seeing God everywhere & worshipping the eight-form God everywhere – one indirectly removes the difference between the individual and the total. Thus, the illusory difference is removed & realization dawns that whatever is present is only one Consciousness alone.
Krishna says about this pooja in Gita Chapter 7
“Bhoomih aapoh analo vayuh kham mano buddhireva cha
Ahamkaara ithi ayam me bhinnah prakritih asthadhaa”
My Eight fold nature consists of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, mind, intellect and the Ego (Ego is nothing but reflected consciousness and reflected Consciousness has no existence separate from original Consciousness).
Sankara mentions this in the 9th or Upasana sloka of Dakshinamurthy Astakam
“Bhooram bhamsyanalo anilo ambaram ahar naatho himanshu puman
Ithyabhaathi characharatmakam idam yasya eva murthy astakam
Na anyat kinchana vidhyathe asmat parasmaat vibho
Tasmai sree guru murthaye nama idam sree dakshinamurthaye”
Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether, Sun, Moon and Purusha – it is one Consciousness whose Eight-Form or eight-fold form is shining as the world. That different from whom, nothing exists – that Dakshinamurthy who is the first Guru, to him I offer my prostrations.
All kinds of worship are meant only for purification of mind & remembrance of God. When one single thought is followed, the person becomes that thought. When a person concentrates on God who is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute, he becomes one with God. This God is the same as the Self or Consciousness in a person.
Thus, all these worship are meant to realize one’s own real nature through seeing the same Self and the same body and its elements in the external world.
This service of the world and seeing it as the Eight-form of God is the real service of God or the Self. When a person does any service to any single being in this world with this knowledge that it is Eight-Form God who is shining through this being, that very service or help becomes an offering or worship – which directly purifies the mind and thereby leads to realization of one’s own nature.
A person should always remember that it is the Eight-Form God who is shining in each and every object in this world or the world itself is God alone. This thought always makes one do actions without expectations and as an offering to the Almighty. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has mentioned in the 3rd sloka, this kind of action leads one to purification of mind and thereby to realization of the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Worship is one of the very important factors in all religions. Worship of the God as being manifested in this world has been put forth in the Vedas itself.
The very ancient Rig Veda hymn of Purusha Sookta speaks about one Supreme Being from whom these worlds and the people have come.
Rig Veda says at one place “Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanthi” – One Existence is talked of as different Gods by various learned people.
Worship makes a person concentrated and focused on the form of single God. The life of the person goes mainly as service for that Lord. Each moment he sees or thinks about that God. Each moment he sings praises of the God. Each moment he tries to do service for the devotees of that Lord. We find such services being mentioned in the lives of the Saivite saints or Nayanmaars. This is service to a single form of God. Through this kind of form-God worship, a person gains concentration and his mind becomes completely fixed on that God.
This type of one-pointedness turns the mind inward. Therefore the mind slowly merges into its source of the Self or Consciousness. A person who has practiced meditation will know that if a person concentrates on a single object for long period, slowly he can feel the object also vanishing and pure Consciousness alone remaining (a state similar to voidness – meaning there are no external objects).
Thus, this one-pointedness and turning inward of the mind is what is expected out of worship.
One kind of worship is being mentioned by Bhagavan Ramana here. This worship is seeing God everywhere. Whatever object is being perceived, that is perceived as God alone. When a person following this worship sees a cat, he doesn’t see the cat as such but he sees the Supreme Being or God as being manifested in the form of the cat. This again leads one to oneness. The mind while turning into the external world perceives just one thing – God. Therefore, even while the mind is extroverted, it sees nothing but God alone. This is again one-pointedness alone. This one-pointed nature leads the person or devotee to turn inward and realize the ultimate Reality that “I am the God which I was seeing everywhere, I am the person who is present or manifested in this seemingly existing world”.
Therefore, worship of God is not just closing one’s eyes or doing service to the form of Vishnu or Siva, but it is seeing God everywhere. Worship is knowing completely that everything is nothing but God alone. Whatever objects are seen those are nothing but God or Consciousness alone. When this oneness is followed, there is no sorrow or suffering because sorrow, suffering and all are there because of Duality perception. In this case of worship, the devotee sees nothing but One God alone. Even the devotee ceases to exist; he merges into the Omnipresent God or Consciousness. Therefore there is no separate existence for such a devotee – whatever is there is only God. This Absolute oneness is the aim of Vedanta or Upanishads.
This Absolute Reality alone can confer happiness and contentment to a person. Other happiness that a person gains from the material things in the world is only temporary and filled with sorrow. But this happiness is Eternal having attained or realized which there is no returning back, there is no worries or sufferings again.
This worship doesn’t require any special flower or special water or other materials. It just requires some time of the mind & the right attitude to perform it.
The moment a person sees the monitor in front of him as God, the monitor ceases to be monitor. It becomes God alone. As the monitor is God, therefore it cannot give him sorrow because God is full of happiness or Bliss alone. This is not just a vision to be adopted but this is the ultimate Reality. But since, all have forgotten this ultimate Reality, one need to see this initially as a vision & not as a Reality. Slowly the person will realize that what he was following was not madness or mere imagination but it was the Absolute Reality.
“Sarvam khalu idam brahmaa” – Everything is verily Brahman alone.
“Sarvam Brahmamayam jagat” – The world is Brahman alone.
“Ishaavasyam idam sarvam” – Everything is pervaded by God.
Krishna beautifully describes this worship in Gita chapter 9
“Patram pushpam phalam thoyam yo me bhaktya prayatchathi
Tad aham bhakti upahritam ashnaami prayataatmanah”
He who offers with devotion a flower or leaf or fruit of little water, I partake of the offering because of his devotion.
Here Krishna mentions that a flower or a leaf which indicates that the quantity is not important but quality or attitude is important.
Krishna again continues
“Yad karoshi yad ashnaasi yad juhosi dadaasi yad
Yad tapasyasi kaunteya tad kurushva mad arpanam”
Whatever action you do, whatever offering you do, whatever you eat, whatever you give as daana, whatever austerity you do – do that unto Me (or do it as an offering to Me).
“Shubha ashubha phalairevam mokshyase karma bandhanaih
Sanyaasa yoga yuktaatma vimukto maam upaishyasi”
By doing thus (offering actions to Me or God), one gets rid of good and bad (happiness and sorrow – which are relative) and gets rid of the attachment or bondage to actions – such a person is a Sanyaasin who is completely established in Me & he attains liberation or Eternal Bliss.
Now, some people have doubt about if Adharmic action or Avaidika actions are done. Krishna answers their query
“Api chet suduraacharah bhajathe maam ananya bhaak
Sadhureva sa manthavyah samyak vyavasitho hi sah”
Those who have done the worst sins offering those to Me (meaning ananya bhajana or ceaseless thought of God), he is to be considered a Sadhu because he is always established in Me.
“Kshipram bhavathi dharmaatma sashvat shaanthim nigatchathi
Kaunteya prathijaaneehi na me bhaktah pranashyathi”
Very shortly, that person becomes established in the Self (Dharma really means established in Self and not normal vaidika actions) and attains Eternal peace. O Arjuna, know for certain that my devotee never falls or never perishes.
Therefore, one should see God everywhere, remember God at all times and do all actions. Thus doing actions, the results of the actions will not affect the person & by doing thus, latent tendencies in the form of vasanaas are not created so that he becomes bonded to the action and its performance.
The very first naama of Vishnu Sahasranaama is “Visham” – which means “Vishathi ithi Vishwam” – one who has entered into all beings. Therefore the world that we see in essence is God or Consciousness. This God is not at all different from the limited jeevatma but it is the same as Jeevatma because everything is God alone. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in future slokas beautifully tells that God is not different from the Jeevatma or individual Self but both are the same only.
Let us all try to follow this worship of seeing everything as God alone & get purification of mind & thereby realize the inherent Bliss of the Self. This realization is realizing that God is in Me or God is my very nature alone & God is not a special being sitting above in the heaven.
Srimad Bhagavatha says this in the starting itself
“Vadanthi tat tattvavidhah tattvam yad jnaanam advayam
Brahma ithi paramaatmethi bhagavaan ithi sabdhyathe”
Those who have realized the truth speak about the truth as non-dual knowledge and they term the truth as Brahman, Paramatman and Bhagavan.
Srimad Bhagavatha again mentions this in the concluding chapter
“Vedanta saaram yad brahma atmaikyatva lakshanam
Vasthu adviteeyam tannishtaam kaivalyam prayojanam”
The main aim of Bhagavatha is Kaivalya or Absolute state and being established in the Absolute state. This Absolute state is the non-dual Truth which is the essence of Vedanta and is the oneness of Brahman and individual Atman.
Uttama stavaat uccha mandathah
Chittajam japa dhyaanam uttamam…..6
Uttama stavaat – Than the best of praises
Uccha mandathah – singing or chanting in loud and low volume is greater or superior
Chittajam japa dhyaanam uttamam – Chanting in the mind or meditation is superior to both.
Than the best of praises, singing or chanting in loud and low volume is greater or superior. Superior to both of these is meditation or contemplation in the mind.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here gives three types of chanting or japa.
1. Chanting or praises of the Lord in any language and in loud able to be heard by others.
2. Chanting in low volume audible only to the person who is chanting
3. Mental Contemplation
We will just try to see each one of these even though the chanting that is given much emphasis is mental contemplation alone.
Praises of the Lord
These are the various hymns made on the various Gods and Goddesses. One may ask what is use of these hymns which talk about the God and his activities or lilaas? The very aim of all these is remembrance of God or the Self. The aim of all such spiritual practice is to develop devotion and one-pointedness of the mind.
Therefore these praises indirect lead a person to one-pointed mind which just thinks about the Lord alone.
Chanting in low volume of the sacred scriptures
These chants which have hidden truth about the ultimate Reality are in Sanskrit. These chants or sooktaas are those which are chanted either loud or in low volume (in order not to disturb other people). These Sanskrit verses are so powerful that even mere chanting or hearing them cures many a diseases.
One reads from the Mahabharatha about how Veda Vyaasa chanted the Atharvana Veda Mantras and cured the Shantanu Maharaj – Emperor of Hastinapur.
Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswathi Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam used to stress the importance of Sanskrit mantras and the ability of those syllables to cure diseases like fever and others.
These chants or mantras have the hidden truth in them. These chants or sooktaas and all are to be chanted in proper form and annotations.
There are some people who take it for granted that these chants, if chanted improperly, will lead to adverse effects. These wrong notions are out of ignorance alone. As Sri Krishna mentions again and again in Gita that any action is not as important as the attitude is. The attitude of the doer is important and not the action as such. Even a person like DharmaVyaada who was a butcher was considered a realized jnaani by none other than Krishna when he sends many a people to dharma vyaada for learning knowledge.
All the chants are chanted in order that the real import of those, the ultimate Reality, is realized through them. If the ultimate Reality is not realized, then even if the chants are chanted properly also, they serve no purpose than for SHOW-OFF to the public about the knowledge of the person chanting them.
One may now have doubt regarding the power of mantras. AMMA, as Sadguru Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is popularly known as, gives a beautiful story about the power of mantras.
A sage’s ashram was there in a kingdom which was ruled by a king. The king had given the place to the sage in order that knowledge will be imparted to various students. Once the king went to the ashram. At that time, the Guru or the sage was teaching mantra to the students. The king called out to the Sage. But the sage did not come out. After a couple of calls, the sage came out. The king asked the sage why he did not come out when he had called. The sage replied that he was teaching about mantras to the students and these mantras are very powerful and there should not be any obstruction while teaching these mantras. The king asked the sage whether the mantras are more powerful than the king himself & mocked at the sage. The sage said to the King to wait and went inside. The sage then called out the smallest of his disciples who was just 3 years old and told the disciple to welcome the king who was standing outside. The little disciple came out & saw the king. The king saw the small kid who was very small compared to himself. The disciple looked at the king and said “GET OUT!” After telling this, the little disciple went inside. The king was very angry and raged. He was very angry and shouting that the very ashram was in his area and that he would set the ashram into fire! The Sage then came out. The king was still angry and started shouting at the sage and threatening the sage. The sage slowly and calmly said to the king “Please wait, O King!”. And the sage said to the king “If the two words of GET OUT can have such great impact on you, just imagine the effect of sacred mantras and syllables”.
Thus, mantras have tremendous effect. The mantras gain more effect based on the effort from the individual. When a person prays to the stone image of Vishnu in Tirupathi, it ceases to become a stone image and becomes the very Lord Vishnu himself. The very power of the stone images in temples are the mantras which are daily chanted in the temple & the process of building the temple and pratishta of the stone image.
Hence, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here says that chanting or action through the words can be done in three ways – either praising the Lord through various hymns , chanting various sooktaas loudly or chanting of sacred mantras in a low volume and mental contemplation.
Mental contemplation is given high importance because of the law that “whatever one thinks, that one becomes”. Now, an idiotic or ignorant person who wants to mock at philosophy or spirituality as given in the scriptures might ask “If I think I am donkey, will I become a donkey?” Vedanta answers that “yes you will become a donkey”. But it is not mere thinking that makes a person become something. Instead it is the effort of strong thinking which is termed as BHAVANA that makes a person become a thing. If a person continuously thinks of Vishnu alone, he verily becomes Vishnu because of the strong contemplation on Vishnu.
This is what is told in the history of great saivite saints where they are said to have merged as one with Siva. This mental contemplation is what makes great living legends like Srimad Ramanuja and others to get immersed into the idol of Vishnu and with the form of Lord Vishnu.
What Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions in this sloka as mental contemplation is not mere contemplation on any material objects or the forms of Gods, but it is contemplation on one’s own very nature. It is contemplation on the essence of oneself which is the same as God who is situated in the spiritual heart of each person.
Sri Sri Sankara explains about Bhakti or devotion in Vivekachoodamani as
“Sva sva roopa anusandhaanam bhakthirithi abhidheeyathe”
Contemplation on one’s own real nature is called Bhakthi or Devotion.
Vedanta tells three different steps to realization of one’s own nature. The three steps are
Sravana or Listening – this is where a person listens to the scriptures which speak about the Self and about one’s own real nature.
Manana or Reflecting – any theory is merely intellectual until all doubts are completely removed. Here a person reflects on the Self with the help of various logics and through the intellect. Unless this step is covered, a person cannot realize the Self because this is the step where all the doubts regarding the Reality are removed through logic and arguments.
Nidhidhyaasana or Contemplation – when the theoretic and logical aspects of the Reality is complete and perfect, it has to become one’s own very experience. Experience of the Self is present at all times, but it is covered with a veil of ignorance. Unless this veil or obstructions are removed, the Self is not realized or Bliss of the Self is not experienced. This is the stage where a person completely removes the ignorance or Avidya which is the cause of all bondage and sorrow.
The third step of contemplation is very essential as without this, experience of the Reality as one’s own very nature is not known. Unless this non-dual Self is known as one’s own real nature, sorrow and sufferings will still continue. If this non-dual Reality is not known, then there will still be doubts regarding the nature of the Self as non-dual or qualified monism or duality itself and all. These doubts will make a person to enter into debates with scholars of other schools and this will become a mere intellectual argumentation and fight.
This is why the great Upanishads proclaim
“Manasaiva aaptavyam neha nana asthi kinchana
Mrityoh sah mrityum aapnothi ya iha nana iva pashyathi”
The Self is to be realized through a pure mind. The Reality is that there is no duality here, not even little. He who sees duality, as it where, will go from death to death (death meaning here sorrow)
All actions, all chantings are for purification of the mind. When the mind is purified, then alone the Ego is completely subsided or killed and the Reality of the Self is realized. This is the reason why there are a lot of great scholars, great sasthris and pandits, great saints who know the scriptures very well but still are not able to realize the Self & hence enter into debates about the nature of the Reality. The very reason for these debates and arguments are lack of purity of mind.
A person might have studied the whole of the scriptures and might even quote commentaries on them, but still will be very far away from Eternal Bliss and contentment. That person might still be running behind others to justify his theory or the theory that he will be following.
The scriptures and commentaries on these by great acharyas are not meant just for debating and argumenting over the nature of the ultimate Reality but to realize the non-dual Reality. The Upanishads and Gita proclaim in many places that the Reality is One alone, it is that which is without a second and it is one’s own Self that is waiting to be realized so that all the sorrows, all the sufferings can be removed.
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions in this sloka, the ultimate Reality is completely realized only through mental contemplation on the Self, mental contemplation on God (thinking that God is present everywhere & not just on the form of God which will again lead one to trouble alone as to which form-God is greater or superior).
Aajya dhaarayaa srotasaa samam
Sarala chintanam viralatah param…..7
Aajya Dharayaa – like the flow of ghee
Srotasaa Samam – and like the flow of water,
Sarala Chintanam – meditation or continuous flow of one thought
Viralatah Param – is better than broken thoughts.
Meditation or continuous thoughts (or continuity of a single thought) which is like the flow of ghee (or oil) and water is better than broken thoughts.
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi had mentioned the three instruments or ways to do action in the third sloka – which are Pooja, Japa and Dhyana respectively – here Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining the characteristics of meditation.
Meditation always has three components of parts. One is the person meditating or the meditator. The Second is the act of meditation. The third is the object of meditation.
What is the use of meditation?
Meditation makes one completely focused onto an object. At that time, there remains no external object except the object on which meditation is being performed.
One has to clearly distinguish between concentration or Dhaarana and Meditation or Dhyaana. Concentration is when a person tries to concentrate on an object. At that time, lot of other thoughts also creep in & the person tries to focus his mind on just the single thought of either God with a form or any other object. Whereas meditation is where a single thought alone persists, there is no second thought there.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here basically gives the definition of how meditation should be done & what are the qualities for a meditation.
Meditation is very important because only through meditation a person gains complete focus and the mind gets slowly merged into the source of the Self. One of the most used meditation in daily life is the meditation on God with a form. This meditation is one of the different types of Bhakthi mentioned in Bhagavatha.
Patanjali Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi describes meditation as
“Tatra pratyaya ekataanatha dhyaanam”
There, in that thought, the Consciousness is completely focused and one-pointed.
There is no use trying to meditate on the form of Vishnu for 10 min & then trying to concentrate on Krishna for another 10 min. Both of these will not give the effect of one-pointedness which is expected out of the meditation.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka therefore says that continuous flow of a single thought is better than broken thoughts. If even in worldly materialistic actions, continuous thought is necessary, what to speak about in realization wherein the subtlest of the subtle Truth is being realized.
Here Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gives two distinct characteristics of one-pointed and continuous meditation. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that the thoughts should be like
Flow of ghee
Flow of water
Flow of ghee – as everyone known, ghee or oil is viscous and hence each molecule is connected to the other molecule – there is an interlinking between the ghee particles & hence the flow is continuous. Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here with this example stresses the importance of continuity in a single thought
Flow of water – Water is pure. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here with this example wants to show that the thoughts must be pure. The thoughts must be for a genuine cause. The thoughts must not be mixed with expectations but must be with due respect and gratitude. Without these qualities, no meditation serves the purpose. It is lack of purity of thoughts in meditation which causes great yogis to use their power for the bad of the society and for harming other people.
When a person has continuous and pure thoughts and meditates on the single thought – his mind becomes focused. Any person who has practiced meditation will surely know that when a single thought is persisted continuously, even that thought vanishes and a state of void happens (here there are no external objects, but just the Seer or the meditator alone). This state of Oneness where there is complete absence of both external and an internal object is there is termed as Samadhi or Absorption.
Patanjali defines Samadhi as
“Tad eva artha maatra nirbhaasam svaroopa soonyam iva samaadhih”
When a person meditates on a single thought, that thought alone persists in a state like void – this is called Samadhi.
The high type of Samadhi is where, as mentioned earlier, the thought also vanishes and only the Seer remains. This type of Samadhi is termed as Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Vikalpa means thoughts or modifications). The initial Samadhi is where the person gets completely absorbed into the object and the distinction between the object and the meditator vanishes. This Samadhi is termed as Savikalpa Samadhi. When this Samadhi is practiced for some time, even that object vanishes and what remains behind is the Self or the Subject or pure Consciousness alone.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is going to explain about this Bhakthi in the coming slokas.
Again, meditation is not something that has to be just practiced once or twice a day (30 min or more), but it has to be continuously practiced. It is not necessary for a person to close his eyes to perform meditation. Even if the person has his eyes opened, he can practice meditation or even Samadhi. This happens when a single object is seen everywhere. Whatever is being seen is a single object & hence it becomes meditation alone.
Upanishad speak about Dhaarana as
“Yatra yatra mano yaathi tatra tatra brahma darshanaath”
Wherever mind goes, seeing Brahman – this is concentration and meditation.
Bharathi Teertha Swamigal of Sringeri says in Drik Drishya Vivekam
“Dehaabhimaane galithe jnaanathe paramaatmani
Yatra yatra mano yaathi tatra tatra samaadhayah”
Wherever mind goes, that becomes an object of Samadhi – once the body-consciousness is overcome and the ultimate being or the Self is realized.
Therefore meditation is not just an action to be performed twice a day, but it should be continuously practiced each moment. Whatever object a person sees, he has to see it as Brahman or the ultimate Being alone.
Sri Krishna calls this Samadarshanam in Gita
“Vidhya vinaya sampanne braahmane gavi hasthini
Shuni chaiva svapaake cha panditaah samadarshinah”
A Brahmin endowed with humility and knowledge sees one thing in a cow, horse, a dog, a dog-eater and a Brahmin and such a person is a realized Self indeed.
This oneness or seeing one thing everywhere is what is required through meditation. Meditation is performed in order to achieve this. And such a meditation is powerful and better than mere concentration where a steady and continuous thought is not maintained.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in further slokas explains how a person merges into the Absolute and ultimate Reality through this meditation and rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Bheda bhaavanaath soham ithyasau
Bhavana abhidha paavani mataa…..8
Bheda bhavanaath – Better than the thought of a God different from oneself
Soham ithi asau – the thought that “I am He or I am God”,
Bhavana abhidhaa – which has no differences in it
Paavani mataa – is sacred and preferred.
Better than the thought or Bhavaana of a God different from oneself, the thought that “I am He” which has no differences is superior, sacred and preferred.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here, in this sloka, stresses the importance of Para Bhakthi as compared to Apara Bhakthi.
There are mainly two types of Bhakthi. One is the lower devotion or Apara Bhakthi where the difference between God and the devotee exists. Here, the devotee assumes or is devoted to a God different from oneself. He thinks himself as not united or one with God but different from God.
This duality or difference perception can not lead to Eternal Bliss. This duality is not the Absolute Reality. The Absolute or Ultimate Reality can never be relative and it must be beyond all relativities, beyond all differences, beyond time-space-causation. Such a Reality, therefore, can not be realized through dual thought. As long as a devotee thinks himself as separate from God, the difference always exists. This difference obstructs the ultimate Reality and Eternal Bliss of the Self to be realized.
Professor Bardley say” It is impossible to know the Absolute from relative point of view, for knowing the Absolute the relative must become the Absolute and in becoming the Absolute the relative ceases to be the relative.
The very experience of Deep Sleep speaks about this obstruction and the realization of the Self. In the waking and dream world, there are dualities and hence the Eternal Bliss is not experienced. The happiness that a person experiences in these two states is very limited and full of sorrow alone. But in the Deep Sleep state, there is no duality perception and hence Bliss is experienced throughout the state. There is not even a single tint of sorrow in the Deep Sleep state.
The Upanishads say that liberation is similar to Deep Sleep. In liberation also, there is no duality and all dual perceptions vanish. After realization, the ultimate Reality that there is only ONE Truth which is of the nature of Absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss is realized and experienced. And this state is full of Bliss alone and without any duality. Similarly, the state of Deep Sleep is also a state where happiness is fully experienced and there is no duality in this state also. The only difference between state of Deep Sleep and liberation is that in Deep Sleep, there is ignorance and hence one is not aware of the Bliss in that state & is aware only after waking up. But in liberation or realization, there is complete awareness and a person is fully aware or conscious only when he is realized.
It is interesting to note here that realization is not something new to be gained but some wrong notions about one’s own nature and ignorance to be lost. These obstruct one’s own real nature of Self which ever-realized.
The Ultimate Reality is not dualistic truth – but it is the non-dual Brahman or non-dual God or non-dual Self which is the substratum for whatever is being seen in this seemingly existing world. It is that which sustains all the objects, desires, thoughts in the illusory world and the various states of waking, dream and Deep Sleep.
Hence, the Ultimate Reality can not be known if God is considered as separate from oneself. Unless this differentiation vanishes, completeness and contentment are not experienced. And in such a state of differentiation, perfectness and infinitude is not experienced – only in such perfect and FULL state, there can Eternal and ever lasting Bliss which is the very nature of God.
And God is being defined in the scriptures as that from which this illusory world has come, that in which this illusory world exists, that unto which this illusory world merges into. This theory, if deeply analyzed, will show that there can be no duality whatsoever from that God. The God who is full and complete can not have any parts – as that which has parts is subject to changes and therefore death also. But the God of the Upanishads, the Brahman is without any birth or death – therefore God is without any parts.
As God is complete and full, never can any objects appear or come from God. Things can come from God only if God desires – if God desires, then his very nature of completeness or Fullness vanishes. Hence, God cannot desire anything and cannot perform any actions – therefore nothing can come from God.
Also such a full and complete God has to be non-dual alone. If there is something different from such a God, then it again comes into the theory of relativity and we have to assume another GOD which is Absolute and on whom the two things of relative God and the different objects depend upon. Again, we will be lead to the same conclusion that such an Absolute God has to be non-dual and without any changes & hence there cannot be born any relative God from the Absolute.
Now, one may ask then who am I?
The scriptures again and again proclaim that the Self or Consciousness or “I” is the same with Brahman or God. It is not different from God because there cannot be any differences external or internal to God – and hence God has to be non-dual alone.
Each person’s experience shows that it is the Consciousness or “I” that remains the same amidst the changing views, changing objects, changing stages in the life, changing states and all. Therefore this “I” is Absolute and not relative. It exists without any external or internal dependencies. The “I” never requires any external God or Brahman for its existence. But the external God or Brahman has existence only because of the Consciousness or “I”. This is very well experienced by each person in Deep Sleep where there is neither any God nor Brahman, but only the pure “I” exists.
Therefore, this now takes us to just two Absolute things of Consciousness or “I” and God or Brahman. Now a person with little understanding or reason will realize that there can never be two Absolute things. And when a person analyzes these two things deeply, he realizes that they are not different from one another but the same only. Therefore the Ultimate Reality is that “I am God, I am Brahman of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss – I am the non-dual Self, one without a second”.
This Ultimate Reality or Knowledge about one’s own nature is called Para Bhakthi. This Para Bhakthi can be realized only when a person contemplates and realizes that “I am God” – until then, he may be a great devotee of God and might even talk with God daily, but still he has not realized his real nature.
This great ultimate Reality is very well known through Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s very life itself. Ramakrishna was so attracted to the form of Kali and he refused to accept Brahman as the ultimate and non-dual Reality even after his Guru Tota puri told him so. Thereafter, Tota puri instructed Ramakrishna to imagine a mirror in between his eyebrows and see the form of Kali in that mirror. Ramakrishna did so. Then suddenly the mirror broke due to Tota Puri’s yogic action and Ramakrishna saw the infinite Brahman pervading all over the universe – he realized the non-dual Reality at that moment.
Hence, a person should always remember this Ultimate Reality even while following any path towards it. This ultimate goal of realizing one’s own non-dual nature has to be remembered even while one follows any path. If this is not followed, then a person gets stuck in the path and he is a fool who considers the path as the goal instead of trying to realize or achieve the goal.
Keeping all these thoughts in mind and for the welfare of the society – Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains that the thought or devotion which is devoid of any differences of devotee, object of devotion and act of devotion is superior to devotion where there is difference between God and the devotee.
The scriptures proclaim this practice or path of SOHAM or I am He through which a person realizes one’s own real nature of God or Self.
The word SOHAM – or AHAM SAH – means “I am HE”. Through this form of devotion wherein the devotee contemplates that he is God – he conquers the dualities completely and therefore overcomes ignorance and realizes his own real nature of non-dual Bliss, non-dual God and non-dual Self.
Now a person might object here by saying that is there any scriptural proof that devotion must terminate in non-dual knowledge?
Yes, scriptures do proclaim this alone.
Sri Krishna says in Gita Chapter 18 (the sloka that most of the people know)
“Sarva Dharmaan Parityajya maam ekam saranam vraja” –
Renouncing all dharma, take refuge in Me alone.
Here dharma indicates everything in this world – it indicates the changeful nature of the world which is NAMES and FORMS. When the NAMES and FORMS are renounced and refuge is taken in ME or Krishna as the Ultimate Reality – there remains nothing but non-dual Self or Brahman alone. This non-dual Self or Consciousness can have no name because NAMES and FORMS have been renounced and this is beyond any dualities.
For Eg: when the names and forms of sea, bubbles, waves are renounced what remains is non-dual WATER alone (here non-duality is only with respect to those objects and this example serves only to prove that when names and forms are renounced, the Reality alone exists, one without a second).
Krishna again mentions this in lot of places in Gita. Krishna says to Uddhava in Uddhava Gita
“Pumso ayuktasya naanaartho bramah” –
The duality born out of the intellect and perception of a man (whose mind is incomplete and imperfect and not steadfast) is illusory only.
In the very famous Gopika Gitam which is considered as a book about Bhakthi, Gopis say
“Na Khalu gopikaa nandhano bhavaan
Akhila dehinaam antaraatma drik”
O Krishna! You are not the son on Nanda but you are the in dweller or Self in all beings.
The Self in all beings indicates the substratum for all the bodies – this substratum can never be multiple – Self or Consciousness can never be multiple as the very nature of Consciousness is that it is the Subject. Such a subject can never be multiple as this multiplicity would only lead to different Subjects. If there are multiple Subjects, then each Subject would become an object of the other Subjects. Therefore a Subject would become both a Subject and Object – this is illogical and not possible also. Therefore Consciousness is ONE ALONE.
Therefore, this Consciousness or God is not different from oneself. The devotion wherein the devotee considers himself as God and contemplates on the Reality that “I am God” is higher and directly leads one to realization. This is Para Bhakthi as defined by the various works of bhakthi literature.
There are various works which define Bhakthi and are considered as bhakthi Literature. One is the Bhagavad Gita wherein in Chapter 12 bhakthi is completely dealt with. Another is the great scripture of Srimad Bhagvatham where Para Bhakthi or Knowledge is talked about (Srimad Bhagavatha itself in the end describes that Knowledge about the Reality between Self and Brahman or God is the very aim of Bhagavatha – this non-dual Reality is Para Bhakthi).
These works deal with other topics also.
There are mainly two Sutras which speak only about Bhakthi. Those are
Narada Bhakthi Sutras – the sutras on devotion ascribed to Narada (as the author)
Sandhilya Bhakthi Sutras – the sutras or aphorisms on devotion whose authorship is ascribed to Sage Shandhilya.
Amongst these two works, Narada Bhakthi Sutra is given prime importance and widely read because of the practical and experiential aspect of devotion being talked about in the book. Also, since Narada is considered as the very embodiment of bhakthi in various scriptures.
Bhaava soonya sad bhaava susthithih
Bhaavana bhalaath bhakthih uttama…..9
Bhaava soonya – A state of voidness
Sad Bhaava susthithih – when a person is established in the Self or Existence
Bhavana Bhalaath – is achieved through practice
Bhakthih uttama – is the highest Bhakthi.
A state of voidness, when a person is established in the Self or Existence, is achieved through practice alone & is the highest devotion.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here speaks about the higher devotion or Para Bhakthi and the means to attain it.
As explained earlier, there are two types of devotion. One is Apara Bhakthi where there is the differentiation between the devotee and God or the object of devotion. But in Para Bhakthi, this differentiation vanishes and only pure Consciousness or the Self exists.
In the state of realization, there is no duality and differences – there is only one Consciousness, one without a second. There is nothing other than Consciousness in that state. This ultimate state of realization is known by different names in different philosophies. This ultimate Reality is termed as Atman, Brahman, God, Samadhi and all in different philosophies.
The ancient Rig Veda tells “Ekam Sad Vipra bahuda vadanthi” – One Truth is spoken of in different ways by different people.
And hence the very same nature of the Self and the state of realization is named variously. When a person becomes completely immersed in God, there remains no difference between the devotee and the God. At that time, there is only pure Existence and nothing else. This state of non-duality is called Para Bhakthi or Jnaana or Brahman or the Self. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining in this sloka.
Apara Bhakthi or devotion where there is differentiation between the devotee and God is not the ultimate state. This devotion just is a means to purification of mind and gaining of concentration. This lower devotion is just a path to the ultimate state of Supreme devotion where there is only ONE and no duality.
Wherever there is duality, there is prone to be likes and dislikes. When a person sees two things (different things), it is obvious that he will like one thing better than the other. This liking might again lead to disliking of the second thing. These likes and dislikes cause desire or attachment and anger or aversion. The desire and anger cause a person to enjoy happiness and sorrow continuously. It is the end of duality or perception of duality that leads one to Eternal Bliss of the Self. As long as a person sees duality, there is happiness and sorrow waiting to pounce upon the person.
Thus, the sufferings in the world can be said to caused by DUAL PERCEPTION alone.
Again, now one may ask “Will non-duality or ceasing of dual perception lead one to Eternal Bliss”?
Yes, it will. This is not only affirmed in the Sruthi and confirmed by logic – but each person’s experience also tells the same.
During the state of Waking and Dream, a person always perceives duality and hence he enjoys happiness and sorrow. But during Deep Sleep, where no duality is perceived, the person completely rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self. This is the reason why even a beggar and a millionaire both want to sleep daily and after waking up proclaim the same words “I slept well”. This shows dual perception is the cause of all sorrows.
Even in this state of waking, a person can rejoice in the Eternal Bliss of the Self – if dual perception ceases. This is why when a person hears to beautiful music, he gets happiness (without any conditioning) from it – this happiness is got because temporarily the dual perception vanishes and the person is in harmony with the music. This harmony only means that there is duality perceived between the music that is heard and one’s individual character. Similar is the case with all material pleasures. At the time of enjoying any pleasures, the difference or duality is temporarily forgotten and hence the Eternal Bliss of the Self is experienced.
The Upanishads proclaim that since this happiness is only due to temporary ceasing of duality – it is just a small part of the Eternal Bliss of the Self. But one has to remember that whatever happiness one gets from worldly things, that too has to be from the Self alone and not from any external objects.
If external objects were to give happiness – then their very sight would give happiness to each person. But we see that some people get happiness by listening to classical music whereas some people get happiness listening to western music. There are people who get angry when they listen to the same classical or western music. Therefore, happiness is not in the objects or the music, but it is in the Subject or the individual alone.
When the individual loses his individuality and is in harmony with the surrounding or the objects, he rejoices in the happiness got from the Self. Therefore, one can conclude that happiness or Bliss is rejoiced only when dual perception vanishes.
Now comes the real question of whether dual perception is real or unreal?
Vedanta proclaims that dual perception is not real because if it is real – then it cannot vanish. Therefore it is only an illusion. The best example for the illusory nature of dual perception is the dream world. The dream world has duality at the time when it is experienced. But when a person wakes up, he realizes that there was no duality at all – and the dual perception was only an illusion.
Now, any illusion must compulsorily have a substratum or a real thing. A little thought will tell a person that even when illusion is perceived, it is the Reality that is being perceived. When a person mistakes a rope for a snake & he sees the illusory snake only – but even when he is seeing the snake, it is ROPE that is being perceived and not the snake.
Experience and logic tells that the duality in the world is unreal & it is the same Consciousness that is seen as the various objects in the world. The real state of objectlessness is the real state or natural state of the Self. When this natural state is realized, a person realizes that it is the Self that is being seen as the various objects & he realizes that there is nothing here but the Self alone. At that time, even though he might be seeing duality (as such), but he will be seeing the substratum of the duality which is the Self alone.
Therefore, dual perception is unreal & the duality that is being perceived is nothing but the non-dual Self only.
Now, let us try to analyze the meaning of the sloka.
There are two things that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells about the state of higher devotion.
Void like state – this word of void has invoked lot of people to be confused that the Reality is nothing or SOONYAM. But this is proved wrong because when a person says “there is nothing”, there must a person or the Consciousness to tell that there is nothing. Therefore, there can never be nothing but only Consciousness. Here, nothing or SOONYA indicates the absence of any external and internal objects or differences. The Subject or the Seer in this state perceives objects. Therefore, the Subject has no existence without the objects. But when the objects vanish as in Deep Sleep, the Subject exists in a state of objectlessness. This is the natural state of the Subject & this is the state of Eternal Bliss. This state of objectlessness and ONENESS is indicated by the word SOONYA or void.
The real nature of Existence – the Self is of the nature of Existence. The Self or Consciousness is the only thing which experiences that “I exist”. All other things are insentient matter alone which gain their existence from the Self or Consciousness. Therefore, here Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here indicates the real nature of the Self as Existence. With the word SAT, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi clears the doubt as to whether it is a state of SOONYAM or voidness. Since, IT exists, soonyam means that there is nothing different it existing.
Now, comes the question to how to attain or realize this real nature of the Self?
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says through “practice” or “contemplation”.
Each and every person is the Self alone or God alone. But this Ultimate Reality has been forgotten and veiled by ignorance. As the Reality is veiled, other things are wrongly superimposed on the Reality. These superimpositions can be removed only through negation of these. This negation is done through contemplation on the Reality. When a person gets the clear intellectual conviction that everything is the Self only & I am the Self – the ignorance veil vanishes & thereby the real and nature state of the Self is realized.
This mental contemplation is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explained in the previous sloka as “SOHAM” contemplation. SOHAM means “I am He or I am THAT”. With this contemplation, the devotee contemplates on the God as not different from himself but as one with himself. He contemplates on the thought that “I am GOD or the GOD is ME alone”. This contemplation slowly removes the difference between the devotee and God.
At that time, the devotee realizes that God is not different from myself but I am that GOD.
A person can easily understand that the God who is considered as the creator, protector and destructor cannot be different from the devotee. If everything has God as the substratum, then that God must be same as the devotee only. If that God is different from the Self or the devotee – then it denies the Omni-Presence of God and the very fact of God being the substratum of this world. Therefore, by creating difference between God and himself, the devotee in turn kills Godness in God & therefore God himself is killed. This can never happen and is not at all possible. Therefore the devotee is not different from God.
This SOHAM is not just limited to the body or the mind – but this is to be applied to each and every object. The devotee needs to contemplate that “everything is God only & that God is Me only”. Only through this pooja of seeing everything as God, duality vanishes through constant contemplation. When duality vanishes, a state of voidness is experienced & the Consciousness or Self or God alone remains, one without a second.
This realization of the Ultimate Reality, one without a second is termed in bhakthi literatures as Para Bhakthi or Supreme Devotion.
It is interesting to note that Adi Sankara defines Bhakthi in a very similar way in Vivekachoodamani
“Moksha kaarana saamagrayaam bhaktireva gareeyasi
Sva sva roopa anusandhaanam bhaktirithi abhidheeyathe”
Of all the means to liberation, Devotion is the easiest.
Devotion is contemplation of one’s own real nature (which is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss).
Only when a person strives to follow Para Bhakthi and realizes it – he becomes a real devotee of the Lord. And Krishna says in Gita that such a devotee is Me only and not different from Me. Krishna again asserts that a devotee (following lower devotion) never perishes.
It doesn’t matter whether a person is following the path of Bhakthi or Jnaana or Karma – but the attitude is important. One has to constantly remember that removal of duality and likes and dislikes is what is to be achieved. This can be achieved only through seeing oneness everywhere & this is what is common in all the paths.
Hrit sthale manah swasthathaa kriya
Bhakthi yoga bhodaascha nishchitam…..10
Manah swasthathaa – fixing the mind
Hrit shtale – in the heart
Kriya – is action.
Bhakthi – This is only Bhakthi,
Yoga – Yoga,
Bhodah cha – Knowledge or Jnaana also
Nischitam – definitely.
Fixing the mind in the heart is action, Bhakthi, Yoga and knowledge definitely.
This Sloka can be said to be the essence of Upadesa Saram as well as of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s teachings.
The four main paths that lead to the ultimate Reality or realization are the Bhakti Yoga, Jnaana Yoga, Raja Yoga or Yoga, Karma Yoga. There are even more yogas or paths mentioned in the Upanishads but these are the main four accepted by all people and put forth by Swami Vivekananda during his lectures and speeches.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has explained the Bhakthi Yoga and Karma Yoga in the last slokas. In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is putting the Ultimate Reality that all these paths terminate in just one action of fixing the mind into the heart or merging the mind into the heart. This merging or destruction of the mind into its source of spiritual heart or the Self is the final step to realization. A person might be following any path but still he has to have this last step of merging the mind into the real Self.
The Spiritual Heart
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions that all paths are one and the same only. They lead a person to the ultimate Reality alone.
What is the ultimate Reality? Is the ultimate Reality realization of a God sitting in heavens or in the Himalayas? Is realization leaving this body and going to Vaikunta or Himalayas?
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi answers that Ultimate Reality is not different from one’s own very nature. The Self or pure Consciousness alone is the ultimate or Absolute Reality. Even God is nothing but Consciousness alone. God is one’s own very Self. Realization is not liberation after death and going to heaven or Vaikunta but realization is realizing one’s own Eternal nature of Consciousness.
This Self or Consciousness can be realized as residing in the Spiritual Heart termed as Hridayam in Sanskrit. This heart is not the physical heart which circulates blood and does other operations. Hridayam is that from which the thoughts spring. All thoughts have the ‘I-thought’ as their substratum. All thoughts arise after the ‘I-thought’. This ‘I-thought’ is what is called as Ego or Ahamkara. Only when the I-thought is born, all other thoughts spring up. This is the reason why in Deep Sleep, since a person doesn’t have any individualistic idea or I-thought or Ego (Ego is identification with the body and mind), there are no thoughts. And since there are no thoughts, there is pure Bliss inherent in the Self & this is being experienced or rejoiced by the person.
Since, ‘I-thought’ springs up and dies off, it requires a source. This source is the Spiritual Heart or Hridayam. This is the place where the Self or pure Consciousness resides (without any impurities). It is very easy to understand that if the Consciousness is there, then only I-thought and other thoughts arise. Therefore, the I-thought should have its source in Consciousness. This Consciousness resides in the Spiritual Heart of each person.
Now one should not think that Consciousness resides only in the Spiritual Heart. Because Spiritual Heart is neither within nor outside. Since a seeker is very much attached to the body, a place is told from where the I-thought springs up and the place where God and Consciousness reside. This Hridayam is neither outside nor inside because there is no place where Consciousness is not present.
Consciousness or the Self is beyond time, space and causation. Therefore it cannot be limited to any place. But since the mind is extroverted, it needs to be fixed to a place and the place or thing to be fixed is the Spiritual Heart or the place of source of I thought – the place where Consciousness remains without any impurities.
The Consciousness or the “I” that we experience now is mixed with the Ego and other things. It seems to be limited by the body and mind. But Hridayam is where the Consciousness remains without any limitations (because here in this place, there is no Ego and hence no thoughts – only when thought is there impurities come and they veil the real Consciousness and Bliss of the Consciousness).
The Katha Upanishad says about the Self and its place
“Anoor aneeyaan mahatho maheeyaan atma asya janthor nihitam guhaayaam”
The Self is subtlest of the subtle and big than the biggest – it is present in the Intellect-cave or Heart-cave of all beings.
This Heart cave is what is called Hridayam. Another term for this Heart is Guha or Cave. Similar to things hidden inside a cave, this Self or pure Consciousness is hidden inside the Spiritual Heart. When a diamond is kept inside a cave, the light of the diamond comes out of the cave and illumines things outside the cave. Similarly this Self or pure Consciousness present inside the Heart illumines all the objects in the world.
Krishna mentions in lot of places that “God resides in the heart of all beings”. The heart being mentioned here is the Spiritual Heart which is the source of all thoughts, all objects – everything in the world. This Spiritual Heart is the place of Consciousness and of God also. This only means that God is the same as Consciousness alone.
When the mind which is full of thoughts is fixed on the Spiritual Heart, that is in God or in the pure Consciousness which is one’s own very nature, ignorance veils are removed and Eternal Bliss of the Self is rejoiced. Thus the person gets liberated from sorrow and sufferings. This alone is Para Bhakthi, this alone is Yoga (or removal of the thoughts from the mind), and this alone is ultimate action and also Jnaana or knowledge.
This sloka can be said to the very essence of the whole work of Upadesa Saram where the four paths to the ultimate Reality are propounded. In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi summarizes the final step to all the four paths which is nothing but fixing of the mind unto the ultimate Reality of Consciousness or God.
Bhakthi & Its implementation
Bhakthi is mainly of two types – Para Bhakthi or higher devotion and Apara Bhakthi or lower devotion.
Here, Para Bhakthi can be said to the ultimate goal or end and Apara Bhakthi can be said to be the means to Para Bhakthi.
The only difference between both is that in Para Bhakthi, there is not distinction between the devotee and the God – but only ONE SAT or Existence is present, one without a second. But in Apara Bhakthi, there is the distinction between the devotee and God.
There can be Eternal Bliss only when dual perceptions vanish. This is possible only through Para Bhakthi which is not different from Jnaana or Knowledge. To attain Para Bhakthi, a person has to go through Apara Bhakthi alone. Thus, Apara Bhakthi is the path traversing through which a person attains Para Bhakthi.
When attaining is being mentioned here, one has to constantly remember that there is nothing new to be attained but only the ignorance about one’s own nature has to be lost. The Self or Consciousness is the same as God or Brahman. These are just various terms used to denote the one Reality. If this Ultimate Reality of oneness is forgotten, then the path will be of no use to such a person. This is what is normally seen in people who are very devoted to either the form of Vishnu or the form of Siva – but still they refuse to accept this Ultimate Reality of Oneness and hence fight amongst each other in the name of sects and other things.
Therefore, the moment a person forgets the Ultimate Reality that there is only one thing present here – whether it is termed as God or Brahman or Self – one without a second – and that is one’s own real nature. This realization is what is to be achieved through devotion and this state of ultimate oneness is termed as Para Bhakthi in bhakthi literatures and bhakthi terminology.
This is the reason why Krishna says in lot of places that “a devotee merges into Me”, “devotee is Myself and I am the devotee”.
Apara Bhakthi is the path to realize this ultimate Reality – realizing which a person overcomes illusory sorrow and ever rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self. There are many means through which a person can follow this bhakthi or devotion.
One of the most important qualities of devotion is ONE-POINTED nature. A devotee is one whose mind is always fixed on the Almighty or any form of God. He remembers God at all times. He never forgets God. Whatever activities are done, he offers them to God. Whatever good happens, he takes it as HIS prasadam. Whatever bad happens, he takes it as GOD’s wish. And the devotee knows that God is the ultimate goal that has to be attained or realized. All the other things, work, family, children, money, fame, happiness – everything is inferior to God. All these things have secondary importance only to the devotee. The devotee gives primary importance and significance to God alone. Therefore, most of the time, the devotee tries to do work for God like hearing to HIS glories, singing HIS glories, serving the devotees of the Lord and all.
One has to remember the story Mahabali to know the import of Saranagathi or complete surrender. Mahabali was a great Vedantin and the story of Mahabali has been interpreted wrongly by most of the people. Mahabali’s father was Virochana and grandfather was Prahlaada. Yoga Vasistha tells that Mahabali was taught the knowledge about the Self by his father when he was young.
Srimad Bhagavatha and Yoga Vasistha deals with the story of Mahabali in detail. Mahabali was doing a yajna and at that time, Vishnu took form as Vamana, a dwarf – and approached Mahabali. Mahabali welcomed the Brahmin Vamana with due respect and in proper obeisance with the scriptures. Mahabali then asked Vamana to ask whatever he wanted. Vamana asked for “three feet of land”. Mahabali was surprised and told Vamana to ask for more. Then Vamana told him that a person should not be greedy and should seek only whatever is barely needed. So Mahabali gave his word of giving three feet of land to Vamana. After this, Mahabali was called by his Guru Shukracharya who then told that Vamana is Vishnu only and hence he will surely kill you – don’t give him whatever he has asked. Here, Mahabali refused to do whatever his Guru told & told that he was fortunate enough that the Lord had come seeking something to him. Thereafter, Shukracharya cursed Mahabali. But Mahabali did not turn away from the Truth and the Word that he had given to Vamana. After this, Vamana took Virata roopa or Vishwa roopa and measured the earth with one foot and the sky with the other foot. After this, there was no place for him to keep his feet – and hence looked at Mahabali. Mahabali just smiled and showed his head and asked Vamana to keep the foot on his head and take the third feet of land. Here, Mahabali could have replied that “you are cheating me; I gave the word or boon only to a dwarf and not to this big form”. But he did not do that – he knew that it is the Lord and that he was fortunate enough to have got the grace of the Lord for serving him. Thereafter, Vamana blessed Mahabali and granted him the boon that whenever he wanted, he could see Vishnu & that Vishnu will be protecting him at all times. After this, he sent Mahabali to Sutala. It is a wrong concept that Mahabali was sent to Patala – or a lower world full of evil and bad. Instead, Mahabali was blessed by the Lord and sent to Sutala and not Patala.
This story shows that Mahabali did not grudge when his Guru told him to turn Vamana back. Mahabali did not get off the path when his Guru persuaded him to do so and even curse him.
The important aspect to be taken from the story of Mahabali is that a devotee has God as the ultimate aim. This is termed in Sanskrit as “Mat Paratvam” – or considering the Lord (indicated here as Mat) as the ultimate or Absolute goal.
Srimad Ramanuja stresses a lot about Saranagathi in his works. This is nothing but having total and complete surrender to the Almighty. Whatever might happen, the devotee never forgets the Lord. There is not even a small chance of Ego creeping up for the devotee because the devotee always does all actions for the Lord and without any expectations. All actions of the devotee are just worship of the Lord and such worship can never make one egoistic – because the devotee considers all fruits (whether they are good or bad) as the prasadam of the Lord. He sees the Lord in everything, all actions, all objects, all things. For the devotee, there exists nothing but the Lord alone.
Such a devotee will never perish because of his one-pointed thought about the Lord. Slowly the devotee moves from Apara Bhakthi and attains Para Bhakthi. As he is always thinking of the Lord alone, the difference between the devotee and the Lord vanishes. He either merges into the Lord or he realizes that he is the Lord whom he was praying and prostrating. This state of ultimate oneness is the aim of apara bhakthi or devotion.
A person never becomes a devotee by just chanting or uttering Rama’s or Siva’s or Vishnu’s name – it is the attitude of complete surrender and constant thinking of the Lord that makes a person a devotee.
A real devotee might never visit any temples or utter the name of Lord – but he who has the constant thought of the Lord and he who considers the Lord as the ultimate aim and works towards that aim is a real devotee. Such a devotee is indeed very dear to the Lord (Says Krishna again and again in the 12th Chapter of Bhagavad Gita).
Going to temple or uttering God’s name once in a day or twice in a day, speaking and thinking about God only with specific friends – these are just the starting step to devotion and these don’t make a devotee. A devotee is one who is constantly established in the thought of God.
One should read the lives of Nayanmaars or Saivite saints and the lives of Alwars or Vaishnavite saints – to understand about Bhakthi or devotion.
Krishna speaks about the real devotee who is very dear to the Lord in 7 slokas of Gita chapter 12 (sloka No: 13-19)
Adveshtaa sarva bhootanaam maitrah karuna eva cha
Nirmamo nirahankaarah samadukha sukhah shame
Santhustha satatham yogi yataatma drida nishchayah
Mayyarpita mano buddhih yo madbhakthah sa me priyah
He is a real devotee and is dear to me – who has fixed his mind and intellect on Me and
who doesn’t get angry or averse to all living beings
who has the qualities of Maitri or friendship and Karuna or compassion to all living beings
who doesn’t have “I” and “Mine” or Ego
who remains the same in Happiness and Sorrow
who is always content and ever established in Me through clear conviction
Yasmaan na udhvijathe lokah lokaannodvijathe cha yah
Harsha amarsha bhayordvegair muktho yah sa cha me priyah
He who doesn’t get affected by the world or affects the world – and who is liberated from excitement, sorrow and fear – he is a devotee and dear to me.
This is real bhakthi or devotion where the devotee thinks of the Lord alone.
Krishna mentions three points while defining a Apara Bhaktha in the 2nd chapter of Gita
“Mayi aavesha mano ye maam nitya yuktaa upasathe
Sradhdhyaa paraya upethaah te me yukta tama mataah”
He is a true devotee who has fixed his mind unto Me (as the ultimate Reality) is steadfast in Me (means constant thought of God) thinks me as the final goal of human life and works towards it.
Only when a person really follows this, he is to be considered as a real devotee. This devotion is a path that leads one to the Eternal Bliss of the Self. This Ultimate Reality that “I am God” is what is to be realized and only this knowledge about oneself can give one Eternal Bliss. There is no other path than this to happiness or Eternality. One of the easiest path to this is the path of devotion wherein a person follows apara bhakthi and finally reaches Para Bhakthi and realizes the Absolute Reality of Oneness.
This Apara Bhakthi is not mere superstitious devotion of Vaishnavas where they just put everything unto God and do all bad and good things. But this is real devotion where everything is for the Lord and every action is performed as worship to God. When something is being done as worship, it can never be bad and hence it always has to be good alone. Therefore devotion is not mere blind faith where all good is considered as one’s own effort and bad as given by Lord.
This is what is normally seen in so-called devoted people who think they are devotees and that they always think of God. But such people fall away from the path and forget God when something good or great comes. When a person gets a foreign opportunity, there goes the thought of Lord & the next only thought that remains is the thought of money and life in foreign. This is not real devotion. Real devotion is thought of the Lord always and always trying to think about the Lord alone.
A person can at the most go to the US or the UK or Switzerland or according to the scriptures to Heaven. That is the limit. If a person doesn’t understand that even people in those places are unhappy and unsatisfied and they turn towards the spiritual country of India for knowledge and happiness, what else can be said to that person? The lives of Indra, the ruler of heaven, will indeed show that he is not at all satisfied and suffers a lot – but still he is considered happy and remains happy because he is worshipper of God and a real devotee.
Until a person realizes that the Lord is the ultimate Reality and my life should be to realize the God in Me, there will be no happiness or no contentment. And till then, there will be no devotion at all – but just name-sake DEVOTION alone.
Kunti Devi used to pray to the Lord to give her sorrow so that she will remember the Lord. Devotion is constant thought of Lord during times of happiness and sorrow, during times of excitement and misery.
Let us all try to have at least some percent of this real devotion so that we may be able to rejoice in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
A Brief Analysis of KARMA, BHAKTHI, RAJA & JNANA YOGA
A brief analysis of these four yogas will be helpful in order for a person to choose the path that he is most suited to. One should but remember that even though a person might be following a path mainly, but still there will be mix of other paths while he is proceeding towards the Reality.
Sri Sri Sankara was a follower of Jnaana and mainly propagated Jnaana through commentaries, small works and through devotional works like Bhaja Govindam and all. But Sri Sri Sankara’s life history tells us that he did Parakaaya Praveshanam or entering into the body of another person which is part of Raja Yoga as put forth by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras.
Sage Narada was an ardent devotee of Narayana but Srimad Bhagavatha and other Upanishads tell about the high knowledge that Narada had achieved and even preached. Even the Narada Bhakthi Sutraas contain knowledge in the form of devotion.
Therefore, any person who is very near to the Ultimate Reality will find that mix of all the different paths is happening (with knowledge or without knowledge). But, these diverse paths have different attitudes and are suited for different types of people. Hence a person should follow the right path according to his nature and with the guidance of his Guru.
Karma Yoga is one of the most suited for almost all the people. This path is suited for most people because people are so attached to action that they cannot ever refrain from doing action. A person gets really worried while standing in a queue to get darshan of the Lord in a temple – because he cannot stand still without doing any work. Because of this attitude of many of the people, Karma Yoga is the most suited for normal people. This path tells that one needs to do action, but without any sense of doership or egoistic attitude and without any expectations of the fruits of the action and as an offering to the Almighty.
All problems arise out of Karma when Ego sense arises. This Ego makes a person think that he is the doer and thereby he expects the results of an action. Expectations are the cause of sorrows and sufferings. When a person attends an interview, he expects to be selected. Therefore, if he doesn’t get selected, he becomes sad. But on the other hand, if he gets selected, he becomes happy. This only shows that happiness and sorrow depends on expectation and thereby to the attitude of a person. This relative happiness that one gets is temporary and limited alone because once he gets selected, he becomes happy – but after a year if he is not promoted he becomes sad. The same person who got happiness from the job gets sorrow from the same job.
But, when a person expects nothing – he remains unaffected by the fruits of the actions. Since he is unaffected, actions don’t taint him. He doesn’t have any egoistic attitude that “I am the doer”. Through this unexpected action, his mind becomes pure and unattached to things.
A mind is said to be impure when it craves for things and therefore is attached to things. But when the mind doesn’t crave for any results and is unattached, it becomes pure.
Such a pure mind alone is capable of merging into the source of the Self or the spiritual heart and thereby realize one’s own real nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.
In the Karma Yoga importance is given to the unexpectation of fruits (this non-expectation can occur easily if a person offers it to the Almighty), but in Bhakthi Yoga importance is given to devotion and surrender to the Lord.
The Lord or Almighty is all-pervading, all-knowing. Such an all-knowing Lord is thought about for each moment. The devotee never forgets the Lord (not even for a second). All his actions are directed towards the Lord. The Lord is given prime importance and the Lord is considered as the ultimate goal to be achieved. Therefore, the devotee is completely immersed in the thought of God alone. He sleeps God, eats God and drinks God. Therefore, the devotee merges into the God. At that time, the devotee realizes that there was no difference between God and him, but both are the same only. He realizes that He is the God whom he was praying.
This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explained in the previous slokas that higher than the contemplation of a God different from oneself is the contemplation that I am God.
Ultimately, in Bhakthi Yoga too, the devotees reaches the state of Para Bhakthi where the difference between God and the devotee vanishes. Here it is important to note that even though the devotee merges into God, the existence or the Self of the devotee doesn’t vanish (as is normally thought amongst Vaishnavas and other bhakthaas). Here what is meant by merging is that the devotee loses his individuality and realizes the Eternality and totality of Consciousness which he had thought to be limited and individualistic. This same Consciousness is the very essence of God also. Therefore, God and the devotee are not different in essence. But their difference is seemingly existent in names and forms – and other qualities like knowledge, all-pervasiness.
This path is also known as Yoga. This path is very much different from Hatha Yoga where emphasis is mainly given on bodily and physical strength alone. Here, it is control of the mind. Upanishads proclaim that when the mind is controlled, the prana is controlled. When prana is controlled, it is control of the Self and merging into the Self (one’s own real nature). This merging is temporary realization of one’s own Eternal nature.
It is the mind that is the cause of all bondage and sorrows in this world. Therefore, through control of the mind, the entire world formed out of thoughts is controlled. When the thoughts are controlled, there remains nothing except the thinker which is the Self or pure Consciousness, one without a second.
This path of Raja Yoga as propounded in the Upanishads and put forth by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras is also called Astha Anga Yoga or Eight-fold Yoga. This Yoga has eight different steps of Yama, Niyama, Asana etc.
This path is highly practical. A person who follows this path can know the different stages in realization and this has been beautifully put forth in the Yoga Sutras.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi will be dealing with Raja Yoga in the next 5 slokas.
This is the path of knowledge as propounded in the Upanishads or the Knowledge portion of the Vedas. This is one of the easiest and most important path to realization.
This path has been propounded by Sri Sri Sankara and other great acharyas. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains this path in 15 slokas from 15th sloka to the 30th sloka.
The Upanishads proclaim that any path a person is following; he reaches a stage where he has to realize the Ultimate Reality through the knowledge about himself. This is what is termed as enquiry into one’s own nature or Vichara.
The path of Jnana is considered one of the most important because all other paths will lead one to this path only where a person realizes the ultimate Reality of the world.
The Upanishads proclaim that there can be relief from sorrow only by knowledge about one’s own nature. All the sorrow are not real, they are illusory creations alone which seem to exist due to ignorance. Therefore, the only solution to this illusory sorrow and sufferings is the real knowledge that there is no suffering.
Each person is the Self or pure Consciousness alone, one without a second. This Reality has been forgotten due to ignorance. This ignorance has to be removed and can be removed only through knowledge about one’s nature. When this ultimate Reality of one’s own nature is known, then all sorrows, all dualities vanish – and the pure Self or Consciousness alone remains.
The nature of the Self and the Reality of the world has been realized by saints from time immemorial. These saints have put their experience in the Vedas which is not a creation of the saints but which are just discoveries of the saints. Vedas are immortal and they are the very words of God or Brahman. Through the study of the Upanishad or knowledge portion of the Vedas, a person realizes that I am not this body, I am not the mind – but I am the Self or pure Consciousness of the nature of Eternal Bliss. The dual world that is being perceived is unreal because everything that seems to exist is only the Self or Consciousness. Without the Consciousness, there is neither any world nor any objects.
Raja Yoga (Control of Mind)
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the next five slokas discusses the Raja Yoga or the path of control of the mind.
Raja Yoga or Yoga is one of the six philosophical systems in Hindu religion. This system or Darshana was propounded by Sage Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras. There are many Upanishads which propound this system of Yoga.
Yoga Darshana emphasizes on the practical aspect towards ultimate Reality or Absoluteness or Kaivalyam. The system tells that this can be achieved only through control of the mind and removal of the thoughts from the mind-stuff. Such a person who has controlled his thoughts and the prana or vital force is called a Yogi.
In the very second sutra of Yoga Sutras, Patanjali defines Yoga as
“Yogah chittah vrittih nirodhah” – Yoga is the removal of thoughts from the mind or the internal equipments (consisting of Mind, Intellect, Ego and Memory)
What is the use of the removal of the thoughts from the mind? Will not that lead to sunyam or voidness because if I don’t think anything, then wont I cease to exist?
Patanjali answers this in the next Sutra as
“Tada drishthuh svaroope avasthaanam” – At that time (when all thoughts are removed), the Self or the Seer remains in his natural state of Eternal Bliss.
When the thoughts are completely removed, what remains behind is the thinker because the thinker can never cease to exist.
Vedanta proclaims that it is thoughts that lead to sorrow and suffering. The real nature of the Self or pure Consciousness or “I” is Eternal Bliss alone. But this Self is veiled by ignorance. This ignorance causes projection of the Self into other things & thereby thoughts arise. These thoughts therefore veil the Self and Eternal Bliss of the Self. Hence, sorrow and sufferings can be ended if thoughts are eliminated. These thoughts are what are projected as the objects which we see. The objects have no existence apart from thoughts. The moment I think that “I am typing through a keyboard” – keyboard gets its existence. The moment I renounce the thought of “keyboard”, keyboard ceases to exist.
Astrophysicist Sir James Jeans wrote in 1930 “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine”
This only goes to show that all objects have no existence apart from thoughts. This means the objects are only thoughts and not different from them. These thoughts themselves depend on the thinker for their existence. Suppose, the thinker decides not to think anything and he thinks nothing, then thoughts cease to exist. This again shows that the thoughts are nothing but illusions superimposed on the thinker alone. If the thinker or pure Consciousness is not there, there are no thoughts. If Consciousness is there, there are thoughts. But if thoughts are not there, still Consciousness exists. This is what everyone experiences in the state of Deep Sleep where thoughts cease to exist, but still the thinker exists who after waking up proclaims that “I slept happily”.
Therefore, thoughts are the cause for bondage and liberation. These thoughts bundled together are termed as the Mind or Manas. There is no mind without these thoughts.
Therefore Upanishads proclaim
“Man eva manushyaanaam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh
Bandhaaya vishayaasaktam muktaih nirvishayam smritam”
Mind alone is the cause for bondage and liberation.
When the mind is craving for external objects or it is full of thoughts, it is in bondage.
When the mind is free of craving or it is free of thoughts, it is in liberation (such a mind is termed the Self or the pure thinker devoid of any thoughts).
Such a state where there are no thoughts, but the thinker alone is the ultimate aim or goal of human life. This is what is called as Moksha or Mukthi or Kaivalyam. This ultimate goal is what is also achieved through the path of knowledge and other paths. The Ultimate Reality is that there is no duality, there is no differentiation between the thinker and the thoughts – but only the thinker exists. The thoughts are nothing but superimpositions on the thinker – and they exist due to ignorance alone. When ignorance about the Self or the thinker is removed, all thoughts cease to exist – and only the Ultimate Reality of ONENESS is realized. When a person realizes that the object he is seeing is not a snake but a rope, the snake ceases to exist. At that time, he also realizes that there never was a time when the snake existed – it was just an illusion in the Reality or substratum of the rope.
Similarly the Self or Consciousness alone is the Reality or substratum for the seemingly existing world. The world is just an illusion on the Self. When the Self is realized, one realizes this Reality that there neither were any objects nor the objects, but only the Self existed (beyond time, space and causation).
One path to this Ultimate Reality of Drik or Seer without any Drishya or seen is the path of knowledge wherein the Self or Reality is realized (which is both Drik and Drishya – and it is ignorance that causes the differentiation between both). Another path to this Reality is removal of the thoughts which will make the thinker alone to exist (without any thoughts). This ultimate or Absolute state of thinker alone is termed as Samadhi in Yoga philosophy as well as in Vedanta.
Raja Yoga or Yoga philosophy puts forth the eight fold practice to attain this Kaivalya or the state of oneness. This eight fold yoga or Ashta Anga Yoga is also accepted by Vedantins like Sri Sri Sankara and others as a practice or sadhana to the Ultimate Reality. This eight fold yoga is what is generally meant by Yoga. But in various yoga centers only two or three steps of this eight-fold yoga is taught and such a yoga which concentrates only on Asanas or physical postures is called Hatha Yoga. The Yoga or Raja Yoga that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is going to explain is not mere Hatha Yoga or physical exercises but it is control of the mind through the eight fold practices or steps.
One should constantly remember while learning Raja Yoga that the ultimate aim of Yoga is control of mind and not mere siddhas that might come to the person practicing this.
The eight steps of Yoga are
Explanation or description of Raja Yoga will require lot of time, hence we will just see each of these steps briefly and how a person should put it into practice.
Yama and Niyama
These are 5 + 5 = 10 qualities which each person should try to implement or follow in his life. These are prerequisites for the control of the mind and attaining the Kaivalya state of Eternal Bliss.
The five qualities of Yama are Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy) and Aparigraha (non-acceptance).
The five qualities of Niyama are Saucha (purity – internal and external – external means having good clothes, taking bath and all. Internal means purity in thoughts – one should always try to think righteous thoughts and not thoughts which spoil one’s nature and exhausts one’s energy), Santhosa (contentment), Tapas (austerity), Svadhyaaya (self-learning – devoting oneself to the study of the scriptures which speak about the ultimate Reality and trying to analyze the things propounded in the scriptures) and Ishwara Pranidhanaani (Devotion towards Almighty).
These are not mere qualities to be just spoken of in lectures and forgotten after that. These should be strictly followed at all times, in all situations, at all places (Says Patanjali in one of the sutras).
Only when a person follows these qualities, one preserves the energy in the body and mind for spiritual progress. Spiritual study requires tremendous energy because it is trying to learn about oneself, it is trying to learn about the Self (which is beyond words and mind) and because it is removal of thoughts (which requires energy proportional to the number of thoughts).
Removal of thoughts cannot be performed at all places. A seeker can never get concentration if he is in a mall or in a movie. Therefore, the right place is important for performance of Yogic practices. It is also necessary to have a right posture while trying to perform control of mind & removal of thoughts. A person cannot practice this while is lying down (because at that time, there will be no thoughts because he will doze off). Therefore, posture is important in Yoga.
The basic postures told as Sukhaasana (just sitting normally), Padmaasana (cross folded sitting), Siddhaasana (one leg cross folded sitting). One important point to be noted here is that the back should be kept straight. One can easily understand that a person who doesn’t keep his back straight has the natural tendency to sleep and his mind doesn’t remain vigil. Also in yogic practices, the Kundalini Shakthi or serpent power is said to reside dormant or sleeping in the bottom or Muladhara region of a person (end of the spine). When this Shakthi raises up through the Sushumna or spinal cord and reaches the head or Sahasraara, the person is completely liberated as then there are no thoughts but only the thinker. Therefore, it is essential to keep the back straight while trying to do yogic practices or control of the mind.
But according to Vedanta, for the path of enquiry or knowledge, no such limitations of place, time, posture is there. It can be performed anywhere, anytime and by anyone.
The last few steps in this Yoga also don’t require space and time limitations for a Vedantin (one who has read the scriptures) because a Vedantin always has his back right & his mind is always under the control of the Intellect and the Self.
Once position is maintained properly, the Yogi now tries to control the Prana or vital force through breath control. Mind and Prana are very much related. When the Prana is controlled, Mind is controlled.
Chandogya Upanishad tells that Mind has its root in Prana only. Therefore when Prana is controlled, Mind also is controlled. Prana can be controlled through control of the breath because breath is the Prana inside a person’s body.
There are various types of Pranayama which should be performed under the guidance of a proper Guru alone or it will lead to adverse effects.
The simple Pranayama or breathing out and breathing in (with awareness) can be performed by everyone. One notices that when a person gets angry, his breath becomes fast – this breath can be slowed down if breathing in and out is done with awareness and with long duration.
What is the use of controlling the Prana? The mind gets controlled. Therefore now the mind is able to divert the sense organs from external objects into the inner Self. The sense organs are always extroverted and these in turn perceive objects and create all sufferings out of dual-perception, likes and dislikes. Therefore, introverting the sense organs or turning the sense organs from their objects to their respective origin is the next step called Pratyahara.
This step is focusing the mind to their respective source and diverting them from their respective organs or objects. Only when the sense organs are retraced from the objects and put into their respective sources of the mind, the mind will be able to concentrate on the Self and thereby remove all thoughts. This is the step where a person eliminates objects and starts towards elimination of the thoughts.
Dharana or Concentration
When the sense organs are not extroverted towards the sense objects, the mind is free to concentrate on the Self. This step is trying to concentrate (where the mind is not fully focused on a object and not completely concentrated but trying to concentrate). This step involved fixing the mind on a single object. In this step, a person tries to concentrate on the object through effort.
Dhyaana or Meditation
When the concentration becomes one-pointed and only the object remains, it is called Meditation. Meditation is persistence of a single thought continuously. The normal dhyaana that we all perform is not dhyaana but only dharana.
When meditation becomes perfect, the object alone exists without any distinction between the subject and object (only ONE remains). This state of Oneness is called SAMADHI or absorption.
When absorption becomes natural it is called Sahaja Samadhi – this is the natural state of the Self. At that state, all objects are perceived as not objects but as the Reality of Consciousness alone. This is the state where the thinker becomes a pure thinker or the Self without any thoughts or objectless Subject.
This is termed in Yoga as Samadhi or Kaivalyam (the Yoga philosophy speaks about different types of Samadhi also which cannot be dealt in day or two. The various philosophies, the various paths everything is for realization of the Self alone. These scriptures, texts and philosophies become mere intellectual things if they are not implemented to realize one’s own real nature. This real nature of oneself as the Consciousness is the Reality behind all seemingly existing or illusory objects (our even objects which seem to be real).
This realization of the Self is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi was implementing fully in his life. In order to make others realize this Reality, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gave advice in the form of questions and answers and this work of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is where all the different paths are dealt with. Hence, this work if learnt completely will lead one to Eternal Bliss (that which is being searched by everyone in the external world).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains Yoga or Raja Yoga (control of Mind) in the next 5 slokas.
Vaayurodhanaath leeyathe manah
Jaala pakshivad rodhasaadhanam…..11
Vayurodhanaath – By control of breath,
Manah leeyathe – the mind gets merged into its source of Self
Jaala pakshivad rodha saadhanam – like a bird being trapped in a net
By control of breath, the mind merges into the Self. This is like a bird being trapped in a net.
In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is mentioning the control of breath or Pranayaama. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells that through control of breath or Pranayama, the mind temporarily merges into the source of the Self.
The mind is very much connected to breath. Upanishad proclaims that mind has its source in Prana or vital force. This vital force acts in the human body in the form of inhalation and exhalation. Therefore, by control of the breath, the mind gets controlled.
The breathing of a person is very much related to the mental state of the person. It is very well known that when a person is angry, his breath becomes very fast. When a person is very sad, his breath becomes very slow. Therefore everyone experiences this relation of breath and mind.
When a person is angry or has run for some time, his breath becomes very fast. Such a person when he tries to breathe heavily or take in long breath, his mind becomes calm.
A mind which is wandering in the outside world and is always diverted to different objects can never relish the Eternal Bliss of the Self. This Bliss is being searched in the external world, but it can be got only in the Self which is realized through an introverted mind and not an extroverted mind.
This way or path of control of mind by controlling breath is called path of Raja Yoga or Yoga. The mind is the cause of all sorrows and sufferings. When the mind or the thoughts in the mind is controlled or temporarily renounced, the mind merges into its source of the Self.
The mind and its thoughts have their source in the Self or “I”. Unless “I” exist, there cannot be any thought or the mind or objects in the world. Therefore, it is “I” or Consciousness from where the mind, thoughts and the external objects come into existence. Therefore “I” or Consciousness is separate and distinct from thoughts and the mind. I exist independently and don’t require the mind for my existence. But the thoughts or the mind requires this “I” or the THINKER for existence. Unless there is a thinker, there are no thoughts at all. Even a child knows that there is the world only when there is a SEER for the world. If the Seer decides not to see the world, then the world will cease to exist. Similarly, when the thinker decides not to think, then thoughts and the mind cease to exist. Such a mind, which is devoid of any thoughts, is termed as the Self or pure Consciousness or “I”. This is the ultimate aim of human life because only through realization of the pure “I” which is one’s own very nature, a person gets Eternal Bliss which he is searching in the external world.
One way of realizing the pure Self is removal of thoughts. Mind has its existence only when thoughts are there. But when the mind is controlled or the thoughts of the mind are removed, it merges into its source of Self. Therefore, the mind temporarily ceases to exist. But this is temporary merging and not permanent destruction.
Permanent destruction of the mind and its thoughts is possible only through enquiry into one’s own nature or knowledge about one’s own nature. Knowledge is required for realizing the Self permanently because the Self has now been forgotten due to ignorance. It is ignorance that causes a person to think that “I am the body, I am the mind” and hence arise all thoughts. These thoughts in turn make objects. The mind then directs the sense organs to enjoy the sense objects. Now, the mind has become extroverted and hence one is not able to rejoice in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
A little thinking will make a person realize that whatever little happiness a person gets from external objects is only the happiness emanating from the Self. If this little happiness itself is so adorable, then what to speak about the Eternal Bliss which is the nature of the Self?
Therefore, the scriptures proclaim that a person should try to realize the Self this very moment itself. One of the paths to realize the Self is the path of control of mind which Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining now.
The control of breath doesn’t destroy the mind completely, but the mind only temporarily merges into its source of the Self. This is similar to the Deep Sleep state wherein a person rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self but when he wakes up, all the objects and sorrows again reappear. This is because in Deep Sleep, the objects temporarily merged into the Self and hence at that time no sorrow or suffering was experienced. But since there was no awareness in that state due to ignorance, once a person wakes up the sorrows and sufferings again appear. Therefore what is required is permanent merging or destruction of the mind and not temporary merging of the mind in the Self.
Hence, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi indirectly says that control of breath alone is not enough for realizing the Self. This only makes a person rejoice in the Eternal Bliss of the Self for a temporary time period.
Vedanta says that as long as a person is ignorant about one’s own real nature of Consciousness and Bliss, the mind will again and again rise up and lead one to sorrows and sufferings. Therefore only when a person becomes aware of one’s own real nature and ignorance is destroyed, the mind gets destroyed and thereby sorrows and sufferings end once and for all.
This is what is termed as Mano Nasha or destruction of the mind. Temporary merging of the mind is useful only for experience of the Eternal Bliss of the Self and for the people who want to really know about the Bliss inherent in the Self.
Vedanta speaks about two types of Samadhi or absorption wherein a person completely absorbs into a single thought or one’s own real nature. Everyone knows that when a person is completely immersed in a single thought or object, he gains complete knowledge about that object and hence he gains happiness from that object. This happiness through absorption on a single object is valid for any branch of science. When a person concentrates on mathematics and completely gets absorbed into Mathematics, he becomes a Srinivasan Ramanujam (mathematical expert). Therefore, this absorption is responsible for happiness from external objects.
One type of absorption is absorption into an external thought or object. This is called Savikalpa Samadhi (as it is with a modification). Here the meditator completely gets absorbed into the thought or object. But, here still the distinction between the person concentrating and the object of concentration remains. In Nirvikalpa Samadhi, completely merging of the mind occurs. Here there are no thoughts but only the pure thinker. This is the state when there are no external or internal objects (in the form of the external world or the dream world).
This state of pure thinker alone is the ultimate aim of Vedanta. Only when ONENESS or Absolute non-duality is realized, sorrow and sufferings vanish.
Both these Samadhis are temporary alone and not permanent. Hence a person should always try to practice either of these absorption and thereby try to attain Sahaja Samadhi or constant absorption into one’s own real nature of the Self. When a person attains Sahaja Samadhi, he is a realized person who rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self. He doesn’t have anything to do, anything to attain, anything to achieve, anything to grieve upon. He is ever established in the Self, one without a second. He doesn’t perceive any external or internal object but only perceives the pure Self alone (one without a second).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains destruction of the mind and merging of the mind as well as the way to destruction of the mind in the coming few slokas.
Chittavayavah chitkriya yutaah
Shaakayor dvayee shakthi moolaka…..12
Chittavaayavah – Mind and Prana or breath
Chit kriya yutaah – endowed with Consciousness and action respectively
Shaakayor dvayee – are the two branches
Shakthi moolaka – of Sakthi or Divine Power of Brahman.
Mind and prana endowed with Consciousness (or quality of knowing) and actions respectively are the two branches of Sakthi or Divine power of Brahman.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here explains that Mind and Prana are two different branches of the same power.
This entire world, whatever is seen and whatever is not seen is Brahman or Consciousness alone. These things have got their existence because of Brahman alone. This Brahman is Omni-Present, Omni-Potent, perfect and full. Such a Brahman can never create any world (but the world has come from Brahman alone – says Upanishad).
Therefore, Vedanta answers that it is not Brahman that creates the world or the things, but it is the Sakthi or power of Brahman called Maya which creates the world. Brahman and the power of Maya are not different. They are like Sun and its rays. The rays are not different from the Sun. Similarly Maya is not different from Brahman.
“Ya ma sa maya” – that which is not there, that is Maya.
Whatever is being seen is only Consciousness. If Consciousness is not present, then there is no world at all. But Consciousness is there even when world is not there. Therefore, whatever is being seen as external is Consciousness alone.
This is what the Upanishads stress again and again. Whatever is seen is Brahman or Consciousness or God. All these are different terms for the one Reality alone.
Whatever is being seen as the world is thus only an illusion and a name and form of Brahman – as bubbles, waves are nothing but water alone with a name and form.
But, this Ultimate Reality is not apprehended by people whose mind is not pure, whose sense organs and mind are extroverted into the various names and forms. That mind which is purified through introverted nature is alone capable of realizing this subtle and Absolute Reality.
Hence, to take a seeker from the lowest level of ignorance to the highest level of Absolute Reality, the Upanishads follows the Chandra Shaaka Nyaaya. According to this Nyaaya, a child is shown the moon through a branch. First the child is shown the nearby branch and then through the branch it is shown or pointed to the moon.
Similarly the scriptures proclaim about how this world came, what is mind, what are the objects, what are the various paths to the Reality and the way to realize the Absolute Reality. After this, the scriptures progressively state the Absolute Reality once the mind of the seeker is purified. A mind which is purified is nothing but its source of Consciousness alone. Such a mind ceases to exist. This destruction of the mind is what leads one to realize one’s own real nature of pure Consciousness (devoid of any thoughts) of the nature of Bliss Absolute.
Therefore, even when a person hears about Maya, creation and other things, one should remember that whatever is present is only Brahman. These definitions and explanations about various objects and things are meant only for purification of the mind and to guide the seeker progressively to the ultimate Reality.
If all of a sudden, a person says that “you are not this body, you are the Self of the nature of Consciousness, whatever you see or perceive is consciousness alone – one without a second”, the seeker will run away. The scriptures therefore are very compassionate towards the seeker and explain various paths and terms and finally negate all this saying that “Everything is, was and will be Brahman alone – which is beyond time and space”.
Maya or power of Brahman is the cause of the world. This Maya has two distinct powers – one is that which identifies objects or Conscious of objects through mind and the other is which helps one to perform actions through Karmendriyas with the help of Prana.
An anology could help. Suppose we see a ripe mango fruit in the tree, at first the mind identifies objects and desires to eat it. Then Prana through the Karmendriyas try to get it (Climb up the tree or strike it with a stone). Here for the both actions the shakthi is split into two.
The mind is that which helps a person to be aware or be conscious about objects. One should realize here that the mind by itself is not self-luminous but it gets luminosity and life from the Self alone. Prana is that vital force which makes a person do actions. Vedanta splits Prana or every action in the body into 5 different Pranas. It is Prana which upholds all activity of all human beings.
These two powers of Maya have been told as two different branches of Maya by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka. We all know that each and every action or activity requires knowledge and consciousness about that activity. Therefore it is only when both Prana and Mind work that an action is performed.
Maya is that power which veils the real nature of Brahman or the Self. It is Maya which is the cause for ignorance of the Self. This Maya has two powers – Avarana Shakthi and Vikshepa Shakthi
Avarana Shakthi is veiling power. This power hides the Reality of Self. When the Reality is not known, other things are superimposed on the Reality. This power of Maya is the projecting power or Vikshepa Shakthi. These two powers of Maya are responsible for all sorrows and sufferings. There is suffering only when a person forgets that his very nature of Bliss Absolute and that he is not the body or mind and he has no relatives as he is the Self of the nature of one without a second. Therefore, it is Maya which is the cause for sorrow and suffering. This Maya has no real existence but only illusory existence. Such a power can never exist in Brahman which is partless, full and perfect. Therefore, Maya itself is an illusion alone. When this Reality about Maya is realized, Maya ceases to exist. When Maya ceases to exist, one’s own real nature of Self or Consciousness is realized. When this is realized, there remains nothing else to be known as the Self is one without a second. This is the ultimate aim of human life and each human being irrespective of whether he is seeking money or fame or any other thing.
This ultimate aim can thus be realized only when Maya is conquered through realizing its nature of illusoriness. This illusoriness can be known only when its branches of Prana and Mind are destroyed. Therefore, the Yoga system of philosophy mainly aims at control of the breath and destruction of the mind (which is nothing but destruction of the thoughts of the mind).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is going to explain how this can be achieved in the next few slokas. But here Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions the two powers of Maya so that these can be overcome and the real nature of Self can be realized.
In the next sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains that there are two types of Nirodha or control of mind. One is temporary merging of the mind and the other is destruction of the mind (permanent). When mind is temporarily controlled, it again springs up with thoughts once the control is lost. This is not a final or complete solution. The complete solution is full destruction of the mind alone.
When the mind is destroyed, a person realizes that there was nothing called mind, there was nothing called thoughts – whatever was present was only Brahman or Consciousness. The objects that are being wrongly perceived are only Consciousness alone. That very Consciousness You are. Even if a person doesn’t know about his real nature of Consciousness, still he is Consciousness or Self alone. But when he is unaware about this Reality, sorrow and sufferings arise out of dual perception and likes & dislikes. When the Reality of rope is not known, snake is superimposed on it. Seeing the snake, a person gets afraid and runs away. Even when the person was seeing snake in the rope, it was rope alone. But because he was unaware of the real nature of the rope, he got afraid and ran away from it.
Similarly, every one is only the Self alone, but some are aware of it – others are not. Even when a person is unaware of this, he is the Self alone. If he realizes this, that very moment all sorrow and sufferings end – and he rejoices in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
This Self is already realized – there is nothing to be done to realize this Self. But what is required is removal of ignorance of the Self and removal of the wrong notions that have been created about the Self, its nature and the dual perceptions.
Sri Sri Sankara says in Upadesa Sahasri
“Aham ithi aatma dheerya cha mama ithi aatmeeya dheerapi
Artha shoonye yada yasya, sa atmaajno bhaved tatha”
When the thought of “I” and “mind” completely vanishes (I here mains the identification with the body and other objects & not the pure Consciousness), that very moment he becomes a knower of the Self.
That very moment, the person realizes his own very nature of Self.
Sri Sri Sankara says in Brahma Jnaanaavali Maala
“Ghatagutyaadikam sarvam mrittika maatrameva
Tadvad brahma jagad sarvam ithi vedantha dindima”
As entire pot is mud alone, similarly the world and its objects are Brahman alone – this is the strong statement of Vedanta or the Upanishads.
“Brahmaa Satyam Jagan Mithya Jeevo Brahmaiva Na Parah
Anena Vedhyam Sat Saastram Ithi Vedantha Dindima”
Brahman is the ultimate Reality, world is only an illusion seen in Brahman. The Jeeva or limited “I” or Self is Brahman alone and not different from it. Thus, all the scriptures and its essence is covered or known – this is the statement of Vedanata.
All the various paths of Yoga, Karma, Jnaana, Bhakthi are only means to removal of ignorance and realization of this ultimate and Absolute Reality. This if not known a person will never get Eternal happiness even though he may go to Vaikunta or Kailasa.
This is the only way to Eternal Bliss – the ultimate knowledge that “I am the Self, one without a second” & “whatever is present is the Self alone”.
As Sri Sri Sankara says “Chidananda Roopah Sivoham Sivoham” – I am that Siva or Self of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, I am that Self.
Laya Vinaashane Ubhaya Rodhane
Laya gatham punar bhavathi no mritam…..13
Laya Vinaashane – Merging and destruction of the mind
Ubhaya Rodhane – are the two types of control of the mind, among these
Laya gatham punar bhavathi – the merged mind again rises up
No Mritam – but the destroyed mind never rises again.
Merging and destruction of the mind are the two different types of control of the mind. Among these two, the merged mind again rises up, but the destroyed mind never rises again as it is dead.
“Death of the Mind is the birth of a Sage”
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here explains the two different types of control of mind. These two are the merging of the mind into its source of the Self and destruction of the mind.
When the mind is merged into the Self, it is temporary merging of the mind. This has some time limit and once a person comes out of this merging, the mind again rises to start off its duty of thoughts, sorrows and sufferings. But when the mind is completely destroyed, there can never arise any thoughts again. At that time, there is nothing but the Self alone. All the objects then become the Self alone. This Ultimate Reality of Oneness is realized at that time. What is meant by oneness is not closing the eyes and entering into Nirvikalpa Samadhi, but is experiencing the oneness in all the objects, unity in diversity. All the objects that are seen are nothing but names and forms of Consciousness alone. The objects seem to be different but in their essence, they are one and the same alone. This Waking world and its objects are similar to the Dream world and its objects. As the Dream world & its objects are the dreamer alone, similarly this waking world & its objects are the waker or Consciousness alone.
A person easily understands that all the sorrows are not really existent. They are creations of the mind alone. This is the reason why the very same object gives happiness to a person on one day and that very object gives sorrow the next day.
A husband loves his wife very much. But even the presence of the wife near him doesn’t give him happiness when he has been stabbed on the chest! This only shows that happiness and sorrow are not in the object but in the perception of the object which is in the mind alone.
Therefore, all great masters and saints have proclaimed that it is the mind which is cause for bondage and sorrow & the very mind becomes the cause for happiness and liberation. The mind which is full of diverse thoughts is the cause for bondage. That mind which is devoid of thoughts is the cause for happiness and liberation.
Therefore, removal of thoughts is the cause for happiness. This fact is being experienced by each person during Deep Sleep. In Deep Sleep, there is no mind at all. The mind gets merged into the Self at that time. Hence the person enjoys pure happiness in that state. But there is ignorance attached with the experience in that state. The mind is thus not destroyed but merged into ignorance or what is termed in Vedanta as AVYAKTAM. When the state is over and the person wakes up, he wakes up with the ignorance & this ignorance again manifests the mind which was previously merged. Therefore, the person again experiences sorrow and suffering in the waking and dream state.
Therefore, happiness inherent in the Self is realized or rejoiced when the mind full of thoughts is destroyed or annihilated.
The Yoga system tells us that the mind can be temporarily controlled. The control of breath or Pranayama helps a person to merge the mind into its source of Self. This temporary merging is valid only till the person controls the breath. Once control of breath is lost, then all sorrows again arise (because the mind again rises up when controlling of breath is stopped). This is the same case with Nirvikalpa Samadhi (which Vedanta accepts). In this state, there are no thoughts, no objects – nothing but the Self or the Seer alone. The very word Vikalpa means modifications or thoughts. That state where there are no thoughts or modifications of the mind is called Nirvikalpa. This state can be achieved through practice of pranayama and other means.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, in addition to Vedanta condemns this Nirvikalpa Samadhi also. One can tell that here in this Samadhi, external objects which are creations of the mind are not completely destroyed – they temporarily merge into the Self. This Samadhi is therefore internal Nirvikalpa Samadhi alone where the mind is controlled and not destroyed.
A person who is facing lot of problems goes to sleep in order to solve the problems. Will sleeping solve his problems? No, the problems will again rise up when he wakes up. Similarly the Nirvikalpa Samadhi will not destroy the mind but only temporary merging of the mind occurs. Therefore, once a person comes out of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the thoughts and the mind again rise which again leads one to sorrow and suffering.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells the story of a Saint to explain this point. The saint was meditating and he was about to enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi. He asked his disciple to give him water. The disciple went to the river nearby and brought the water. Before the disciple arrived, the Guru had entered Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Therefore the disciple went away. Years passed by. Then one day, the saint woke up from Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The first word which he uttered was “Water! Give me Water!” This shows that the desire or thought of water and thirst was not destroyed and those were temporarily merged during Samadhi. When the person woke up from Samadhi, these thoughts which were not destroyed rose up again. (These rising up of thoughts are termed as Vasanas or latent tendencies in Vedanta. As long as there are Vasanas, a person has to take birth to end up those Vasanas. The only way out of this Vasanas is destruction of mind through knowledge about the Self because it is ignorance that causes one to perform actions which again lead to attachment (to those actions) & create Vasanas).
Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells us that the mind which is destroyed never rises up again and a person having such a mind is liberated. Yoga Vasistha calls such a mind the Self. Mind and thoughts are synonymous. There is no mind without thoughts. When thoughts are removed, the mind vanishes. This removal of thoughts can be done temporarily or permanently. When it is done permanently, the mind is destroyed and therefore it never rises up again.
Thus, indirectly Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is here condemning the temporary control of mind through Pranayama and practice of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. A Vedantin will never go for these temporary solutions. Vedanta directly leads one to destruction of the mind. This ensures that the mind doesn’t rise up again and therefore complete cessation of sorrows occurs. This is what is termed as Moksha or liberation in Vedanta.
Now, one may ask what is the way to destruction of the mind? Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains this in the next sloka that the mind which is focused or concentrated should be destroyed with a single thought. Every one can experience this fact that when a person is concentrating on a single object for a long period, that single object or thought also vanishes leading to the Subject without any objects.
But again, this method is temporary alone. The destruction of the mind can be done only through enquiry into one’s own nature. It is ignorance that makes a person forget the Absolute Reality that whatever is present is Self or Consciousness alone & that “I am Consciousness of the nature of Bliss and one without a second”. Therefore the only way out of this sorrow & suffering is Knowledge about one’s own nature. Therefore, only through knowing one’s own nature of Consciousness and through the knowledge that “SARVAM BRAHMA MAYAM JAGAT” – “this world is Brahman alone” & that everything is Brahman or Self or Consciousness alone, that a person removes this illusory ignorance.
When this ignorance is removed, its products or effects of mind and other objects are automatically destroyed. It is a well known fact that each effect has a cause. When the cause is destroyed, then there can never be the effect. Therefore, when the cause of ignorance is destroyed, the effect of mind and sorrows also are destroyed.
When thus the mind is destroyed through ignorance removal, the person perceives only the Self or Consciousness. He is ever established in the Self. This state of complete absorption in the Self, one without a second is termed as Sahaja Samadhi or natural state of the Self. Each moment, the person perceives only Self – he perceives no differences, he never loses his concentration from the Self (because there is nothing but the Self alone & hence where to lose concentration and what to concentrate on – only when there is duality, concentration is required). The above said Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Savikalpa Samadhi (absorption on any form or thought), Dhyaana, Bhajan, Bhakthi – all this are meant to help one reach the state of Sahajam or natural state of the Self.
People who read little bit of scriptures will know that there are 6 philosophies based on the Vedas (called Shad Darshanaas). These are Nyaaya, Vaiseshika, Yoga, Sankhya, Purva Mimamsa and Vedanta (or Uttara Mimamsa).
Those who know little bit about these will know that Yoga sastra is different from Vedanta in certain aspects. But when a person concentrates on the practical aspect of Yoga (which all Vedantins like Sri Sri Sankara and others accept), he finds that it is very much similar to Vedanta (and helps a person to realize the Self).
It is interesting to note what Patanjali (whose Yoga Sutras is the basis for Yoga Sastra) says about this ultimate state of oneness and the cause for it (and how this can be eliminated)
“Tad abhaavaat samyoga abhaavaat haanam tad drisheh kaivalyam”
Tad here represents Avidya which is being mentioned in the previous Sutra of Yoga Sutras.
When ignorance is removed, the mixing of Consciousness or the Self or Subject and the insentient objects of the world is destroyed and at that time, the Seer or the Self attains kaivalya or Absolute state of oneness.
Even though there are some basic differences between this description and what Vedanta has to put forth, the ultimate aim of Oneness is what needs to be stressed here. This Ultimate Reality if not known will lead one to sorrow. This can be known only through knowledge about one’s own nature and not through any other means. All other paths just lead to this final step of KNOWING ONESELF. One way to this Ultimate Reality is destruction of the mind (not temporary merging of the mind) and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions how to do it in the next sloka.
Praana bandhanaath leena maanasam
Eka chintanaath naasham etyada…..14
Praana bandhanaath – by control of prana,
Leena maanasam – Mind merged
Eka chintana – by thought on the ONE ultimate Reality (concentration on the non-dual Reality)
Adah – This mind (which has been merged)
Naasam ethi – gets destroyed
Mind merged by control of Prana or breath gets destroyed by thought on the ultimate Reality of non-dual Self or Consciousness.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is here explaining the way of destruction of the mind along the path of Yoga.
As explained earlier, when the prana is controlled, the mind gets merged into its source of Self or Consciousness. The prana is in turn controlled through control of breath. (This technique of control of prana through control of breath is termed Pranayama and Patanajali discusses in depth the different ways of pranayama in his Yoga Sutras. These different techniques might not be of much use to the normal seeker but will suit the seeker following the path of Yoga and having the proper guidance of a Guru).
Another direct way of merging the mind into its source of Self is trying to find out the source of the mind, trying to watch the mind. This method is called Self-Enquiry and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi deals with this method in the future slokas.
Another way of merging the mind into its source is by concentrating on a single object. When the mind sees an object, a person to try to see God or Brahman or Self in the object. This seeing doesn’t mean seeing Vishnu as such in the object but knowing the object to be the ultimate Reality of Vishnu alone.
When the various objects are analyzed, a person realizes that all the objects are nothing but Consciousness with a name and form. It is Consciousness which is the underlying principle of all the objects in the world. Whatever is being seen, whatever is being perceived is Consciousness alone. If Consciousness is removed, then there are no objects at all. The objects cease to exist. This in itself shows that Consciousness is what is being seen wrongly as the objects. This is further known through experience of a person in dream. The dream world and its objects are nothing but the dreamer alone. Similarly this waking world and its objects are the waker alone.
But, presently the vision is faulty. Every one sees not the underlying Reality but only the name and form. And people consider this name and form as Reality and conclude that there is difference in this world & that the world is full of difference alone. This is what is generally termed as Ignorance. Removal of ignorance is the ultimate aim of human life because ignorance is the cause of sorrow and suffering.
This suffering can therefore be removed or destroyed only through realization of one’s own very nature of Self, one without a second.
Now, there are lots of theories or philosophies which speak about different Self or Jeevatmaas which are different from Paramatman or part of Paramatman. These theories can never be the ultimate Reality. The ultimate Reality should be ONE alone (without a second). Because if there is duality, then there should be another object which controls both these objects. Hence the ultimate Reality should be non-dual alone. The Reality should be unborn because if it is born, it will have another thing as its cause. As it is unborn, it is without changes and death. Since it is unchanging, it is partless (it is known that objects with parts are subject to changes). Therefore, that ultimate Reality is non-dual, without changes, without birth, pure and Blissful in nature.
Now, the question comes as to how the world which is changing and sorrowful came from the world?
Advaita says that the world has not at all come from the Ultimate Reality or Brahman. Brahman or Ultimate Reality is without changes and non-dual, hence there can be no change in it and this changing world can never come from the Ultimate Reality.
Therefore, the only way that the world is explained is that it is illusory and not real. The world is not a real transformation or creation from Brahman, but it is an illusory creation in Brahman. A person sees snake in the rope. The snake is not a real creation but only an illusion in the reality of rope. Similarly world is nothing but an illusion in Brahman or the Ultimate Reality. The experience of dream world proves this. In dream, there is no world at all, but the individual or the dreamer experiences the world and the objects – enjoys in the dream world as if it is real. But only when he wakes up, he realizes that there was no world at all and everything was just an illusion alone. Hence, the world is nothing but an illusion seen in Brahman.
That Brahman is non-dual and hence it cannot be different from the individual “I” or Jeeva. This is because of the reason that the individual “I” never dies off. I always exists as “I-I”. It exists in all the three states of Wake, Dream and Deep Sleep. Therefore, “I” am Brahman alone.
This Ultimate Reality has to be known through hearing, reflecting and contemplating on this ultimate non-dual Reality. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions in this sloka as Eka Chintanam. When a person contemplates on his own real nature of Bliss, he verily becomes the Self. Here becomes means not that he was not the Self prior and is the Self now. It only means realizing one’s own nature which was forgotten previously.
This is the Ultimate Reality behind whatever is being seen or perceived now and whatever is not being perceived. Without knowing this, there will be no cessation of sorrow (which itself is illusory and caused by ignorance of one’s own nature).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka tells that the mind which has been merged through Pranayama or control of breath should be destroyed by the contemplation on the Ultimate Reality. When the mind is completely merged into its source of Self, when contemplation on the Self is performed, one realizes one’s own nature of Self. This therefore destroys the mind which never again rises up. It is pretty obvious that one can know about oneself only when there are no thoughts. The Self is pure and it is the subject. This subject can never be known when there are objects. When there are thoughts, the mind is attracted towards the objects and it is incapable of realizing the Self. Only when the thoughts are eliminated, the mind gets destroyed by realizing its source of the Self.
Therefore, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka points out that it is the realization of the non-dual Reality which is the cause for cessation of all duality and sorrow. This realization alone gives one Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self.
It is interesting to note Lord Krishna stressing ONENESS in lot of place in Gita. The very famous sloka which terminates instruction of Krishna to Arjuna states the same only.
“Sarva Dharmaan parityajya maam ekam saranam vraja
Aham tvaa sarva paapebhyo mokshayishyaami ma suchah”
Renounce all objects and take refugee in ME alone. I will save you from all sins and you will get liberated. Therefore do not worry or get sad.
This sloka is often understood wrongly. Here Dharma doesn’t mean righteousness or religion, it means properties or qualities. The quality of Brahman (which is wrongly superimposed on it) is names and forms. When names and forms are removed, Brahman alone remains. This only means that one should renounce all objects and realize the Ultimate Reality or the Self. Little thinking will show that all objects are nothing but subject and its light alone. Therefore, the objects are nothing but subject. It is this realization what is meant by renouncing of Dharma. When the qualities are removed from objects, the objects become the subject or the Self alone. Now, mere renouncing of the objects is not what is meant here. Such mere renouncement is useless. Such mere renouncement is like a stone and comparing it with God or the Self which is sentient. Therefore Krishna mentions EKAM saranam which means taking Me as the sole refugee. Here the stress is on the word EKAM which means ANANYA or without any other refugee. This Oneness alone is being stressed by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka. When a single thing is being concentrated on, all other thoughts end and the thinker alone remains. The concentrated object here is not an object but the Subject or Self or Consciousness alone.
Krishna mentions ME here as not the form-Lord or the Ego. Wherever Krishna has used ME or I in Gita, it all means Krishna as the Supreme Being of Brahman or the Self. Krishna himself mentions in Gita that those are fools who consider Me as being embodied and not know by real nature of unborn Self.
Therefore, here the concentrated object is the Self (this type of Bhajanam has been mentioned by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the 8th and 9th sloka).
What is the use of such concentration?
When the Self is contemplated, everything vanishes and the Self alone remains. This is the Ultimate Reality of the illusory world which seems to exist now. Only when the world is known as unreal (as it is perceived now), all the sorrows of the world will vanish off (as they too are unreal). Therefore, when the Self is realized, all sins and sorrows vanish. Here Krishna mentions thus that “I will save you from all sins”. Here Krishna means that the Self will be saved from sins because it is never in sins or sorrows. It is illusion which causes it to feel that “I am a sinner, I am sad” etc. therefore, when the Self is realized, all sins vanish not because of the capability of the illusory Ego but by the Self alone. Thus, the Self (which considers itself to be individualistic) gets liberated or knows its own real nature of ever-liberated Blissful Consciousness. Therefore, Krishna asserts that “don’t get sad or worry” because there is nothing to worry or get sad. A person will never get up one fine morning and cry saying that “I lost my child in dream”. Similarly when a person realizes the Self, he never gets sad about the illusory world. At that time, there will not be any duality at all – then whom to worry about or what to get sad about?
This sloka of Gita thus brings out the essence or import of what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi brings out in this sloka.
This Ultimate Reality of Oneness – without any second object or thoughts is the final state or realization according to the Yoga philosophy. A person has to constantly remember that the ultimate Reality is realization of one’s own nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute, the one without a second.
Therefore, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions in this sloka that through Raja Yoga, when the mind is merged into the source – it has to be destroyed by thought or contemplation on the ultimate Reality of Oneness. When the ultimate Reality is contemplated, a person realizes the ultimate Reality. Then, thoughts cannot rise again (even if they rise, they will not affect the Subject or the thinker). When the Manas is destroyed, only the source of Manas or mind which is the Self remains (of the nature of Eternal Bliss).
This is the reason why Katha Upanishad proclaims
“Manasaiva idam aaptavyam neha nana asthi kinchana
Mrityoh sah mrityum aapnothi ya iha nana iva pashyathi”
This Ultimate Reality has to be realized through a pure mind alone (through one-pointed mind with contemplation on the ultimate Reality of ONENESS). There is no duality, not even little. He who sees as though existing duality, he goes from death to death (Death here indicates sorrow alone).
“Man eva manushyanaam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh
Bandhaaya vishayaasaktam muktaih nirvishayam smritam”
Mind alone is the cause for bondage and liberation. When it is turned extroverted & craving for objects (objects are nothing but thoughts alone), it is in bondage and when it is introverted into its source of Self, it is in liberation.
Yoga Vasistha says
“chit chetya kalithaa bandhah tanmuktaa muktiruchyathe
Chit achetyaa kila atmethi sarva Vedanta sangrahah”
Consciousness mixed with thoughts is bondage and liberation from thoughts is liberation.
The Consciousness which is free or devoid of thoughts or mind is the Self or Brahman – this is the essence of Vedanta or the Upanishads.
Therefore, a person should always try to practice oneness. A person should realize that the different diverse objects are not dualities but only seemingly appearing dualities in the ultimate Reality of non-duality. Thus, when a person perceives only Oneness, the mind gets destroyed and the Eternal Bliss of the Self is rejoiced.
Krishna says “Samatvam Yogamuchyathe” – “Seeing oneness everywhere is called Yoga”.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi concludes the explanation of Raja Yoga and realization of the ultimate Reality through Raja Yoga with this sloka. In the next sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi describes the state of a realized Yogi.
Nastha maanasotkrishta yoginah
Krityam asthi kim svasthithim yathah…..15
Utkrishta Yoginah – For that Yogi
Nasta maanasa – whose mind has been destroyed
Svasthithim yathah – and who is established in the Self
Krityam kim asthi – what is there to be performed (what action to be performed).
For that Yogi, whose mind has been destroyed and who is always established in the Self, what action is to be performed?
“Death of the Mind is the birth of a Sage”
In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining the state of a realized Yogi and the characteristics of such a Yogi.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions two points for the state of a Yogi.
He whose mind has been destroyed.
He who is established in the Self.
He is a real Yogi whose mind has been destroyed. Mind or thoughts arise when the Ultimate Reality of the Self is forgotten. It is by ignorance that a person wants something. Therefore out of IGNORANCE, DESIRE arises. Sri Sri Sankara tells that any person in the world will have only two desires. All other desires can be reduced to these two desires which are CESSATION OF SORROW and ATTAINMENT OF HAPPINESS (termed in Sanskrit as Dukha Nivritti and Sukha Praapthi). This desire arises because one doesn’t know his own real nature of Eternal Bliss. This nature of Eternal Bliss is enjoyed by each person during the state of Deep Sleep. In that state, there is neither the external world of waking state nor the internal world of dream state. At that time, there exists just the Seer or the Self alone without any duality or differences. The inherent Bliss of the Self was enjoyed during that time. But there was also the ignorance or the unawareness about the happiness. This is known when the sleeping person wakes up and tells “I slept happily. I did not know anything”.
Therefore, this shows us that Bliss is the nature of the Self and when all thoughts are eliminated, the Eternal Bliss of the Self is experienced or rejoiced. Since this real nature is not known, DESIRES arise. The major desire is “cessation of sorrow” and “gaining of happiness”. Every one in the world irrespective of caste, creed, religion, money, power and fame seek HAPPINESS. All the actions are directed towards getting happiness alone. Therefore, the final or ultimate desire of human life is HAPPINESS. Since the real nature is not known due to ignorance, DESIRES arise. The person now tries to put these DESIRES into practice and works towards attaining or satisfying the DESIRES. Thus ACTION is born out of DESIRES. It is these actions which are the cause of sorrow and suffering. These actions are caused due to THOUGHTS which arise due to DESIRES.
Therefore, when thoughts are completely removed, there remains the Self alone. At that time, what is required is nothing but knowing about oneself (as there is no different object from oneself, knowing here would mean only realizing or being aware of). This knowledge is achieved through being established in the Self.
Thus, through destruction of the mind, thoughts are eliminated and through establishment in the Self – the ignorance is also removed. The destruction of mind removes DESIRES and ACTIONS. The establishment of the Self removes the IGNORANCE about one’s own real nature.
Thus, such a person who has realized his own Self is a real Yogi.
Patanjali defines Yoga as
“Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah” – yoga is removal of the thoughts of the mind.
“Tadaa dristhuh svaroope avasthaanam” – at that time, the Seer rests in his natural state.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining the same thing what Patanjali has conveyed in his Yoga Sutras.
One has to remember the three distinct terms of AVIDYA-KAAMA-KARMA or IGNORANCE-DESIRE-ACTION. If these three terms are correctly known, then control of thoughts or destruction of mind will not be problem.
Sri Sri Sankara says in Aparokshaanubhuthi
“Ajnaana prabhavam sarvam jnaanena pravileeyathe”
Everything is caused due to IGNORANCE and hence Knowledge alone can cause cessation of the sorrow and suffering.
The Yogi, who realizes his own Self and is established in the Self at all times, is not affected by any sorrows. When the mind is present and the sense organs are directed towards sense objects, the Self is not realized. Only when the sense organs are controlled and the mind becomes calm and without thoughts (the mind gets destroyed), the Self is realized as the source of the mind. This is the state of realization.
Now, one may have the doubt that how then do realized souls do actions?
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gives a beautiful explanation for this to his devotees. The Self is the Sun. The Mind is the moon. One can see at times, in the evenings, that there is the Sun and the Moon also. But the Sun is not at all affected by the moon. Similarly for the Yogi who has realized the Self, the mind doesn’t affect his nature at all because he is always immersed in the Self. The mind of such a Yogi might enter into thoughts, but even at those times the thoughts will not affect the yogi or his natural state of Consciousness.
The Yogi whose mind is completely destroyed has no actions to be performed. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains in the last line of this sloka. Action has its source in ignorance. It is ignorance that propagates actions. Therefore when the ignorance is destroyed by knowledge about one’s own nature, then there is no question of actions arising or desires to do actions arising. Therefore, such a Yogi who is established in the Self and whose mind has been destroyed doesn’t need any action to be performed.
Such a Yogi is termed in the Scriptures as “Atiashrami” – one who is beyond the four ashramas of Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sanyaas. He is beyond any limitations. He is beyond any conditions or criterias. One can never say that he will behave in this pattern, he will be doing these actions and all. We see in the life of great realized Yogis – we had Lord Krishna Dvaipaayana Veda Vyaasa strictly following the Vedic injunctions and leading a life. At that same time, we had Lord Krishna leading a life with 16008 wives and always smiling. We also hear about Suka, the great Brahma Rishi, who left his home in childhood and King Janaka taking care of the palace and his prajaas. Therefore a Yogi’s behaviour can never be judged because he is always immersed in the Self (whatever may be the action he is doing).
It has been mentioned that a Yogi might do action but unaffected by it. One may have doubt regarding this. Here what is meant is that the mind or the Ego of the Yogi has been completely destroyed. He identifies himself as not the doer but as the real Self (which is the witness to whatever is happening). It is like the dreamer completely identifying himself as the witness during the state of dream. Therefore, he doesn’t have any actions to do and he doesn’t do any actions also (because he has realized his Self which is different from the Ego). The doer in the Yogi is absent. According to him, he is not doing any actions because all actions have terminated in the Reality of the Self. But the Yogi is seen as doing actions from the view of the ignorant viewer. Since there is ignorance in the viewer, he sees the Yogi as doing actions. When the viewer himself realizes the ultimate Reality of ONENESS, he realizes that there is no action here but only pure Consciousness appearing as different names and forms (which are just illusions alone and hence unreal).
Lord Krishna says in Gita
“Na me partha asthi kartavyam trishu lokeshu kinchana
Nanavaaptam avaaptavyam vartha eva cha karmani”
O Arjuna, I don’t have any DUTY to be performed in three worlds (mean I don’t have duty at all). I don’t have anything to be attained new which I don’t have now – but still I do actions.
This sloka if not understood properly will lead to all sorts of doubts regarding Lord Krishna himself. If wrongly understood, it will mean that Lord Krishna’s words are contradictory and hence he is a mad and lazy person only.
But what Lord Krishna means by “I do actions” is I remain doing actions (for the viewer). But those actions not at all affect me because from my view I am the Self (one without a second) and hence no actions can be performed.
One has to really understand the difference between Action and Knowledge. Actions can never lead to realization or Eternal Bliss because realization has its cause in knowledge whereas actions have its cause in ignorance. Ignorance can never lead to knowledge because both are opposing to each other. Sri Sri Sankara deals this topic in detail in the introduction to his commentary on Aiteraya Upanishad and Ishavasya Upanishad.
Therefore it is only knowledge which can destroy sorrow and sufferings which are illusions of the mind & hence destroyed when the mind is destroyed and the Self is realized.
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Path of Raja Yoga
Raja Yoga is the path of control of the mind. This path is also generally termed as Yoga (without any prefixes). There is one of the main philosophies or Sad Darshanaas which deals this control of mind. This Darshana is called Yoga Darshana and is based on the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. This system differs little bit with the Vedanta or the Upanishads system. But all Advaita acharyas emphasize the sadhana put forth in the Yoga Sutras.
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit verb Yuj meaning to join or unity. Thus, Yoga is the unity or join of the individualistic Self and the Supreme Being termed God or Brahman.
This unity is what is being propounded in the Upanishads as Advaita Satyam. The Ultimate Reality is that there has been no division or separation, but separation is only an illusion created on the ultimate non-dual Reality of Brahman or Consciousness. As a result of this illusion, the individual Jeeva thinks himself as separate from the ultimate being and thinks himself as being bonded into the worldly dualities of sorrow and happiness. When this illusion created out of ignorance of one’s own nature is removed, the Jeeva realizes the ultimate Reality that “I am That Brahman alone, one without a second”.
Ignorance causes desires or thoughts to arise in the mind. These desires are further converted into actions. These actions produce results which may either be good (to the person) or bad (to the person). When the results are conducive to the person or gives him temporary happiness, it becomes good & when it is bad – it gives the Jeeva sorrow or suffering. As a result of these bad and good results, Jeeva creates likes and dislikes towards each object in the world. Therefore, the Jeeva gets Raaga or Attachment towards likes and Dvesha or Aversion towards dislikes.
Patanjali says about Raga and Dvesha in Yoga Sutras
Sukha anushayee raagah – Attachment is craving for happiness or liking for objects that might give happiness
Dukha anushayee dveshah – Aversion or anger is dislike for objects that give sorrow.
Because of this Raga and Dvesha – Jeeva does some actions whereas condemns other actions. A Jeeva who thinks that smoking or drinking gives him happiness will do only those actions and condemn other actions & also mock at people following the path of spirituality.
Because of these selections of actions and the craving for the results of the actions, the Jeeva has to be born again and again. Until all desires are expelled, Jeeva cannot realize his oneness with the Supreme Being. This is because desires are caused by ignorance and ignorance is that which prevents the Jeeva to realize his Eternal oneness with Brahman or the Self. Since, the human life time allotted or the maximum that a body can live is 100 years – therefore the Jeeva has to take numerous births to enjoy all those desires & expel them.
Manu strongly says in Manu Smriti that desires can never be destroyed by enjoying them. This action is like extinguishing fire by pouring ghee unto it!
Therefore, one has to realize the Self through removal of desires and through the ultimate knowledge about one’s own Reality. When the Ultimate Reality that “I am the Self, one without a second – there is no second object here but only the Self” is known, then there will be no objects external to crave for! Even if objects are perceived, they will be perceived not as different objects but as manifestations of the ONE Consciousness alone. And when the Jeeva realizes that the happiness for which all actions, all desires spring up is my inherent nature – he will never crave for the external world. Such a Jeeva will thus cross over ignorance and realize his own very nature of Consciousness.
Each person will know that thoughts or desires arise out of ignorance and it is from desire that all sorrows and sufferings arise. Therefore, if thoughts are removed, then sorrow and sufferings also vanish. There will be only ignorance left and this ignorance will be removed or destroyed by concentration on the ultimate Reality of Oneness
Thus, Patanjali defines Yoga as
Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah – Yoga is the removal of the thoughts from the mind.
When thoughts are removed from the mind, there remains only the THINKER or the Self alone. This is not complete destruction of the mind but temporary merging of the mind into the Self. Such a temporarily merged mind might rise again and hence the seeker should kill such a temporary merged mind through contemplation on the one ultimate Reality. When at that time, the Ultimate Reality of Oneness with the Supreme Being (which is the only thing present here) is known – ignorance which is the cause of thoughts is destroyed. Since the cause itself is destroyed there can never arise its effects (of thoughts). Therefore the mind gets completely destroyed and the pure Self alone remains.
This is the final state of liberation termed as Kaivalya or Mukthi (Kevala means Absolute state where there is no relative like the Seer and seen, thinker and thoughts etc).
Vedanta tells that it is due to ignorance that superimposition of the Self or Consciousness on the unreality of body, mind occurs. When ignorance is removed, superimposition is also destroyed and hence the Self remains in its Absolute state of Oneness. At that time, there is no duality and hence the Self remains in his nature state of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.
Patanjali says about this
Tad abhaavaat samyoga abhaavam haanam tad drisheh kaivalyam
Here Tad refers to Ignorance (which has been mentioned in the previous sutra of Yoga Sutras). When ignorance is destroyed, the mixing or joining (superimposition) of the sentient Self with the insentient & unreal matter (of body and mind) is destroyed and at that time, the Seer or the Self remains in his natural state of Absolute Oneness.
Tadaa drishthu svaroope avasthaanam – There, when the thoughts of the mind are removed & mind is destroyed, the Seer remains in his natural state of Oneness.
This path of Yoga as mentioned earlier has eight steps (according to Yoga philosophy). But according to Vedanta and Gita, Yoga is nothing but seeing oneness everywhere.
When a person sees only one thing everywhere – his mind becomes concentrated & such a concentrated mind gets automatically destroyed when pursued for some time. Therefore the ultimate and final state of Oneness is achieved by seeing all the objects as ONE.
Here by seeing, it is not meant that the objects are different & one has to perceive oneness even though the Reality of difference is there. The difference perceived is not real; it is only names and forms of the one ultimate Reality. This ultimate Reality can be known only when the dual perception is removed and the substratum of the dualities is perceived.
When a person thus through experience realizes the ultimate oneness of the external world, he realizes that there is only one Self or Consciousness here. Whatever else is being perceived is nothing but illusions on the Self (as the dream world is nothing but illusions seen on the dreamer – the objects in dream are the dreamer alone and have no Reality separate from the dreamer).
Katha Upanishad says
Manasaiva idam aaptavyam neha nana asthi kinchana
Mrityoh sah mrityum gacchathi ya iha nana iva pashyathi
Through a pure mind alone the Self is to be realized (pure mind is one in which there are no desires and thoughts but fully concentrated on the ultimate Reality of the Self). There is no duality here, not even little bit. He who sees as though appearing duality (meaning there is no real duality but if duality is being perceived wrongly) goes from death to death (suffers by taking lot of births and deaths).
A person even while following any path should remember the Ultimate Reality. When the Ultimate Reality of ONENESS is forgotten, then all sorrow and sufferings start. This is the reason why the disciples of Buddha started fighting amongst themselves and started different schools of Madhyamika, Yogachara, Sautrantika and Vaibhaasika. This is the exact reason why Jains were split into Digambaras and Svetambaraas.
What is the use of fighting over whether Buddha meant that the Ultimate Reality is VOID or he meant that Reality is Changing Consciousness alone? All these fights and quarrels occur because of ignorance of the ultimate Reality.
This has been beautifully depicted in Srimad Bhagavatha through the life of Lord Krishna and the age of Kali. The moment Krishna left his body in this world, Kali came into the world. Bhagavatha beautifully describes Kali and its nature (like drinking, smoking). But in reality, this episode has to be understood a bit deeper. It is not meant to be just a history or a story to be heard at times (when Saptaah occurs) and afterwards fight about whether Lord Krishna was really greater than Siva or not!!!!!
The moment Lord Krishna or the thought of God leaves the mind, that very moment one can be sure that KALI has entered into it. Kali is nothing but death or sorrows & troubles. That very moment, a person starts his journey of vicious circle of births and deaths.
This only tells us that one should never ever forget the ultimate Reality – the moment it is forgotten, sorrow has started entering and a person has to suffer (even though the real Self doesn’t suffer but only remains as a witness, the Reality is forgotten due to ignorance which causes the superimposition of the Self on the body and hence the person feels that “I am suffering” even though the real “I” is not at all suffering).
Therefore, a person has to constantly remember this Ultimate Reality that there is nothing here but only the Self or pure Consciousness. Whatever objects are seen are only names and forms of Consciousness. Any place, names and forms are not realities and they have no existence at all. As the snake seen in rope is nothing but rope alone, similarly the world of diverse objects is nothing but Consciousness or the Self alone.
Srimad Bhagavatha beautifully tells what the essence of itself is
Sarva Vedanta saaram yad brahma atmaikyatva lakshanam
Vasthu adviteeyam tannishtaam kaivalyam prayojanam
That ONENESS or unity of Brahman and the individual Self or Atman which is the aim of all Vedanta has been propounded in Bhagavatha – that Reality is Adviteeya (without a second – without any internal or external differences) and a person who is established in it will attain Absolute state – this is the result or effect of learning Bhagavatha (this is the Prayojanam or effect that is to be achieved through Bhagavatha)
Srimad Bhagavatha puraanam amalam yad vaishnavaanaam priyam
Yasmin paaramahamsyam ekam jnaanam param geeyathe
The purana of Srimad Bhagavatha is pure and liked by seekers of Truth (Vaishnava means one who is searching for Vishnu. Vishnu means who is present everywhere & not just the form present in Vaikunta). And in the Srimad Bhagavatha, the ultimate Absolute Reality of ONE, Supreme Self and hence knowledge is being sung.
Therefore one should always remember that there is no duality in this world – whatever is present is the Self alone. This realization of oneness of the world is the effect of Vedanta or the ultimate aim of human life. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is going to present before the seeker the path of Knowledge – the path of ultimate Reality through which a person realizes his own real nature and gets liberated even while living in this world.
Just summarizing the path of Raja Yoga through the slokas of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
11. By control of breath, the mind merges into the Self. This is like a fish being trapped in a net.
12. Mind and prana endowed with Consciousness (or quality of knowing) and actions respectively are the two branches of Sakthi or Divine power of Brahman.
13. Merging and destruction of the mind are the two different types of control of the mind. Among these two, the merged mind again rises up, but the destroyed mind never rises again as it is dead.
14. Mind merged by control of prana or breath gets destroyed by thought on the ultimate Reality of non-dual Self or Consciousness.
15. For that Yogi, whose mind has been destroyed and who is always established in the Self, what action is to be performed?
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Jnaana Yoga (Path of Knowledge)
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains the path of Jnaana or Knowledge in the last 15 slokas of Upadesa Saram.
Vedas or scriptures are split into two parts. One is the ritualistic portion which is called Karma Kanda and the other is knowledge portion which is called Jnaana Kanda.
This Jnaana Kanda portion is the Upanishads. The theory propounded by the Upanishads is called Vedanta and these Upanishads themselves are called Vedanta. There are mainly two reasons for calling Upanishads Vedanta. The first reason is Upanishads form the last part of any shaaka of the Vedas. Hence they are called end portions of Veda or Veda antha. The second reason is Upanishads provides a person with knowledge about the Self. This knowledge when known, there remains nothing else to be known. Therefore the knowledge of the Upanishads puts an end to all knowledge or craving for knowledge. Therefore Upanishads give one the end of knowledge attaining. Veda means knowledge and Antha means end. Hence Upanishads when learnt in the proper sense puts an end to all knowledge.
Vedanta tells that the Karma Kanda or ritualistic portion full of action cannot give one Eternal Bliss or liberation. This has been put forth by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the first 2 slokas of this work. But ritualistic portion helps in the purification of mind (when done with the proper attitude). Only when the mind is purified, can a person realize himself to be the source of the mind and the abode of Eternal Bliss. Therefore Karma Kaanda is preparatory for Jnaana Kanda. If a person who has not attained purity of mind reads the Upanishads, he will not be able to grasp the truth completely. Such knowledge will become mere book learning and incomplete. Such people are harmful to the society as they themselves are in ignorance and they guide other peoples to such ignorance also!
Hence, purification of mind is a pre requisite for knowledge to become complete. But here also, the seeker should remember that any amount of action will not give liberation or knowledge of the Self. Self can be realized only through knowledge of one’s own nature and not through any other means. Action, Devotion, Yoga are all just different paths which ultimate leads one to the knowledge about one’s own nature.
Therefore, it is only through knowledge about one’s own nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss that all sorrow and sufferings vanish. The sorrow and sufferings are not real & are just illusions seen in the Reality of the Self. Hence, the one and only way to eliminate this sorrow is to know the Reality of these illusions – knowledge about the Self.
The Upanishads again and again proclaim in lot of places that it is only through knowledge that one attains Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self.
This path of knowledge is that through which a person is slowly taken to the ultimate Reality of ONENESS.
The Jnaana part has mainly three steps. These are Sravana or hearing, Manana or reflection, Nidhidhyaasana or contemplation.
Sravana is hearing about the Self from the study of scriptures under a proper Guru or teacher. Here, the seeker clearly gains a knowledge about the Self and the ultimate Reality that “I am that Self alone”.
When a person who has been used to calling the body and mind as the Self or “I” is told that “I am the Self”, lot of doubts will arise as to whether this is right. And a seeker may also have doubts regarding the various statements of the scripture. These doubts are removed through manana or reflection in the mind. A person after hearing the scriptures and about the Self should reflect in his mind about the Reality with logic and thinking. This ultimately removes all doubts about the Reality which the seeker had previously heard from the Guru.
Now, the seeker is clear about the Reality but he hasn’t completely experienced the Reality. Here by experience is meant only intellectual conviction and removal of sorrow. The Self is always the experiencer alone and can not be the object for experience. Only objects can be experienced – the subject who is the experiencer of all objects can never be experienced. Therefore, here by experience – the intellectual conviction is meant which remains always and doesn’t leave the person even for a single moment.
For this intellectual conviction to come, ignorance must completely vanish. Ignorance or the veil over the Self is removed through contemplation on the Reality – Nidhidhyaasana. This contemplation when pursued for a long period will result in the removal of the ignorance veil and hence the person will realize the Eternal and inherent Bliss of the Self.
What is Jnaana?
Jnaayathe anena ithi jnaanam – knowing this or the Self is Jnaana (by knowing which everything else becomes known).
There are many people who think that Upanishads and the Jnaana Path is not suitable for them – Bhakthi alone is suitable or Karma is alone suitable!
The Upanishads condemn such people and tells that Jnaana is the one and only way to the Ultimate Reality. Whatever path a person follows, be it Bhakthi or Karma or Yoga – the final step to be taken is realization of his own Reality of Consciousness. This ultimate Reality can be known only through Jnaana and not through any other means.
It is common misconcept that Srimad Bhagavatha and Bhagavad Gita are Bhakti or Karma granthaas. A person when he studies these two works will come to know that both of these works propound Jnaana alone.
Gita tells in the 18th chapter
Ithi The jnaanam aakhyaatam – Thus I have explained knowledge to you.
Sarvam Karma Akhilam paartha Jnaane parisamaapyathe – O Arjuna, all actions terminate or get destroyed in Knowledge.
Yatha edhaamsih samiddhognih bhasmasaat kuruthe tathaa
Jnaanagnih sarva karmaani bhasmasaat kuruthe tathaa
As fire burns the wood into ashes, similarly the fire of Knowledge burns actions and its fruits into ashes.
Thus, both of these so-called Bhakthi Granthas propound Jnaana alone. We have very well seen that Bhakthi and Jnaana are not two separate paths but are one and the same alone.
Thus, it is only through knowledge about one’s own Reality that the sorrow and sufferings which are illusions on the Self vanish.
A person can very well understand that when his natural state is that of Bliss alone. This is why everyone needs to sleep and in Deep Sleep, there are no external objects & the person remains in his natural state of Bliss. The Bliss of the Deep Sleep state lasts for the whole period and the person even remembers it after waking up. This is the natural state as everyone wants to sleep and only after sleeping, the person gets energized. The Upanishads also speak the same thing and experience also tells us the same. But, when a person wakes up into this waking world – sorrows come along. When a person analyses the cause of this sorrow, he finds out that it is ignorance about the real nature of oneself that sorrows arise. We have seen people like Ramana Maharhi, Swami Vivekananda were always happy. They are never sad even though they also live in the same illusory world that we live in. Thus, if we analyse, we find that it is ignorance about the Self that causes all sorrow. This ignorance has two powers. One is the avarana shakthi or veiling power & the other is vikshepa shakthi or projecting power. The veiling power veils the Self and the projecting power projects other illusions over the veiled Self.
When both these powers are overcome, a person realizes his own very nature as Blissful. This is possible only when ignorance is removed. Any person can realize for at least a second that the Self or the real Consciousness or “I” is Blissful only. This is the reason why everything else is renounced for the sake of the “I”. This “I” is the dearest thing for any person. A thing can be dearest only when it has Bliss because man is trying to get happiness from external objects & happiness is the ultimate aim of any person. Therefore, this happiness is inherent in the Self or the man itself but he is unaware about the inherent Bliss in him. This ignorance can be removed only through knowledge about the Self and not through any other path.
Thus, the path of knowledge says that a person is the Eternal Reality of the illusory and unreal existences in the world. The various objects that are being perceived in the waking as well as dream state are unreal and are superimposed on the Reality of the Self or Consciousness. This Reality when known all sorrows vanish. When the Reality of rope is known, the illusory snake vanishes & the fear that arose because of seeing the snake in the rope also vanishes. But an intelligent person after realizing the Reality knows that there never was any snake but only the rope existed.
Similarly the world is nothing but Brahman alone. Whatever is being perceived, whatever is not being perceived is Brahman alone. The objects that are perceived are unreal as names and forms. But since they are names and forms of Brahman or Consciousness, they are real. Thus, the world is nothing but ONE Brahman alone. When a seeker advances further, he realizes that there can never be names and forms in Brahman – the names and forms perceived are unreal alone – As Brahman is without parts and one without a second – there can never arise duality out of Brahman. Thus, the dualities perceived are unreal. The Eternal Reality is Brahman alone and that Brahman I am of the nature of Existence and Consciousness.
This is the only way to get rid of illusory sorrow and sufferings. This ultimate Reality of ONENESS is being propounded in the Upanishads through various examples and various explanations.
Sri Sri Sankara says in Brahma Jnaanavalee Maala
Ghatkutyaadikam sarvam mrittika maatram eva
Tadvad brahma jagat sarvam ithi Vedanta dindima
Pot, walls are all Mud alone (meaning they are names and forms of Mud alone and names and forms never exist separate from the Reality). Similarly the world is Brahman alone – this is what Vedanta is telling at the top of its voice.
Brahma Satyam Jagan mithya jeevo brahmaiva na parah
Anena vedhyam sat shaastram ithi Vedanta dindima
Brahman is the ultimate Reality, world is an illusion seen in Brahman. The individualistic jeeva or Self (who finds himself as part of the whole world) is Brahman alone & not different from Brahman. By knowing this, the Eternal Reality of Truth or Existence according to the scriptures is known – so says the Vedanta.
Thus, each and every one of us are Brahman alone, one without a second. We are the Self of the nature of Absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. There is no ignorance or sorrow in Me. I am the Self, one without a second. Whatever is being perceived, whatever is being enjoyed is the Self alone – nothing but the Self alone.
There is nothing apart from Consciousness here and it is one without a second. Such a thing cannot have any dualities & since there is no duality, there can never be likes and dislikes. Since likes and dislikes are not there – there can not be sorrow or happiness – but only Eternal Bliss.
Chidananda Roopah Sivoham Sivoham – I am that Self of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, I am that Self.
Jnaana or knowledge is knowing the ultimate Reality. Jnaana is knowing that by knowing which everything else becomes known. Thus, knowledge is knowing the Absolute Reality.
What is the nature of this Absolute Reality?
The Absolute or Ultimate Reality is the final or Supreme Cause of whatever is being seen.
Any object seen now must have a cause. When we see a pot, we know that its cause is mud. That which has come out of the cause is called Effect. When we trace back from effect to cause, we realize that there should be a final cause from which the world and all the objects have come.
Thus, scriptures proclaim that it is Brahman or the Supreme Cause from which all objects come. The effect that is being seen now can not be different from the cause (the effect of pot is not different from cause – when a person analyses one sees that pot is nothing but name and form of mud alone). Therefore, the effect is a transformation of the cause. The effect that we see now, the world, must have a substratum or a being who controls it. We see the Sun and the moon moving as if being controlled by someone. We know that if there is no BOSS for a person, he will not do work & at times leave home early. Therefore, it is the BOSS who controls the work of the person and ensures that the person is working. We see in the world that Sun, moon, stars are all moving and working efficiently. Thus, we can infer that there must a person who is controlling the world. This person cannot be different from the Supreme Cause & as it is already proved that the effect is not different from the cause – therefore the world or the effect resides in the cause. Hence, the Supreme Cause is that in which all objects are established (the abode and support for the effect of the world). The effect of the world must also perish like any effects. We observe that the pot dies off and merges into its cause of mud. Similarly the world merges into the Supreme Cause.
Thus, Taittiraya Upanishad says
Yena sarvaani bhootaani jaayanthe
Yena jaataani jeevanthi
Tad vijijnaasasva tad brahma ithi
That from which all the beings have come, that in which all the born beings live, that into which all these beings merge – that is to be known – that is Brahman.
Now, we have reached the final or Supreme Cause from which the world is born, in which the world resides and into which the world merges.
Now, let us analyze the nature of this Supreme Cause. This Supreme Cause cannot be born (as if it is born, then this will cease to be the final cause and there will another cause for this cause). As it is not born, it has no death. That which is not born and has no death cannot have any changes or modifications. It is very well known that all that is born undergoes changes and finally dies. Therefore, this Supreme Cause has no changes also. It has to be non-dual alone. If there is something different from this Supreme Cause, then there should be another cause which is the cause for both these things (either related or non-related). If that be the case, this Supreme Cause will cease to be the Supreme Cause. Hence, this Supreme Cause is non-dual and one without a second.
There are mainly two theories of causation. One of the theories is the theory of Transformation or Satkarya Vaada or Parinaama Vada. The other theory is theory of independent creation or Asatkarya Vaada or Aarambha Vada.
Theory of transformation says that the cause is transformed into the effect. The example for this is transformation of curd into milk. This theory is not possible for the Supreme Cause. Any cause can be transformed only if it has parts because only that which has parts and which undergoes changes will have transformation. But the Supreme Cause is without changes and hence without parts also (any object which has parts is subject to change like the tree which has parts like branch, flower etc). Therefore, there cannot be any transformation in the Supreme Cause. Thus, this theory of causation or creation is not possible for the Supreme Cause.
Theory of Aarambha Vaada says that the objects are created by themselves through a creator who is different from them. A pot is created from mud through mixing of the mud but by the efficient effort of a potter. The world is created from atoms or Pancha bhootas by the efficient effort of the Creator or God. This theory is also not possible for the Supreme Cause as the Supreme Cause is one without a second & hence there can never be any Creator or God separate from it. Also this theory says that it is internal configuration of the atoms that causes them to move into motion and creation starts thus. But since the Supreme Cause doesn’t have any internal parts, this is also not possible.
Thus, there can not be any creation or causation from the Supreme Cause. Thus, we come to the conclusion that there can never occur any effect from this Supreme Cause of Brahman.
Now, one might completely feel confused then as to why the Vedas tell about the Supreme Cause and creation etc.? And also if there is no creation, then what is being seen now?
As has been proved earlier, there can never be any creation from Brahman of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This takes us to the only possible conclusion that the effect is not a real transformation but apparent transformation of the final cause. This theory of apparent transformation (meaning no real transformation has happened but only apparent appearance as if transformation has occurred) is called Vivarta Vaada. The example for this is seeing snake in the rope. The cause of rope has not transformed into the snake. But the snake seems to exist in the rope because of ignorance of the nature of the rope. Thus, the effect of snake is illusory and hence unreal alone.
Thus, the world that we see is not a real transformation of Brahman but an apparent illusion seen in the substratum of Brahman or Consciousness.
How can one prove that the world is apparent transformation of Brahman alone?
When Consciousness or Brahman is present, the world is present.
If Consciousness is removed, the world is not present.
Even if world is not present, Consciousness is present.
This takes us to the conclusion that the world is nothing but an illusion seen in Brahman alone. And as proved earlier, there can never be any change or transformation from the Supreme Cause.
Experience also proves this. In the state of dream, a person sees himself in a world & enjoys in the world as if it were real. But when he wakes up, he realizes that there never was any world created nor did he enjoy anything. If a person thus compares it with the waking world, he realizes that both are very much similar. And hence, the waking world is nothing but an illusion seen in Consciousness or Brahman as the dream world is an illusion seen in the dreamer.
Now, one may tell that the difference between dream and waking world is that the waking world is continuous (that is after waking up from dream, the same condition and state of the person is maintained) but that is not the case with the dream world.
In answer to this doubt or objection, Gaudapada Acharya in his Gaudapada Karika says that the objection is wrong. Even in dream world one can have another dream and such worlds can also be enjoyed inside a single dream world. Thus, we will have continuity in the dream world inside the dream world. This doesn’t mean that the dream inside the dream world is real but only that it is real for the time period.
Any object is called real only when it exists for all the three time periods, it should exist beyond time and space. There is only one such Reality which is Brahman or Consciousness alone.
Thus, the world that is being perceived is seemingly existent in the substratum of Brahman. And for the same reason, it is nothing separate from Brahman.
Now, in order to explain to the beginner about the world, it is said that the world is nothing but names and forms of Brahman. Any name and form are unreal and are nothing but the object alone. The gold necklace, gold chain all are GOLD alone. The names and forms are unreal only. Similarly the world which is name and form of Brahman is unreal in name and form. But the world is nothing but Brahman alone. It is One Brahman which is being perceived as duality even as the dreamer becomes the dream world & its objects.
Thus, one comes to the conclusion that everything is Brahman alone. Even logic or reasoning proves that it is Consciousness which is being seen as the external objects.
Now, the Consciousness that is present in each body cannot be different from Brahman since Brahman is also of the nature of Consciousness. Therefore this Consciousness which is termed as Self is same as Brahman.
One may now have the doubt then is there are many Selves or Consciousnesses? Consciousness is that which becomes conscious of objects. The subject can never be an object and hence the Consciousness is ONE alone. Therefore, the Consciousness is different bodies are one and the same only.
As explained earlier, everything is Brahman alone. This Ultimate Reality that “I am Brahman” is not known due to ignorance about one’s own nature. One may ask here “what is the cause of ignorance”? Sri Sri Sankara says that it is useless to find the cause of the ignorance which in itself is illusory. What is needed to be done is realization of the Reality that “I am Consciousness, I am Brahman distinct from the body and mind”.
The ignorance that is now obstructing the realization of the Ultimate Reality of Supreme Cause alone being present is in the form of wrong knowledge. When the Reality is being obstructed, the Reality is perceived as something else. Therefore, the Self or “I” is thought as the body. Hence a person when being asked “who are you” replies that “I am Hariram and working in Infosys”. Hence, in order to remove the ignorance, one has to remove this wrong identification. The body is not real but is only an apparent appearance in the Reality of Consciousness. There is no body in the Deep Sleep state but still I am there. There is no gross body in the dream state but still I am there. Hence, I am not this body. Similarly the mind which is ever changing I am not. I am the Self distinct from the body and the mind.
Further this is termed as Dharma Adhayasa (Mutual Superimposition) in Vedanta; to understand this properly we have an anology written in Atma Bodha by Sri Sri Shankara. An iron ball which when put in fire becomes hot and bright which is opposite to its natural existence of cold and black. Even though its volume and weight is same after and before being thrown into the fire its character of cold and black has been transformed into hot and bright. If a persons sees this hot and bright iron ball he will superimpose the hotness and brightness to the iron ball, but this charater is that of the fire in which the iron ball was thrown. Like wise if a person is ill the illness is to the body not for the Self, if a person dies it is his body which is dead not the Self.
For any changing illusory objects, there has to be a changeless substratum. Hence for the changing body and mind which are illusory (as has been proved earlier), there is the substratum of Brahman or Supreme Cause.
Hence, when a person clearly identifies himself as the substratum or witness of Self or Consciousness or pure “I” in the illusory world and its experience – he realizes his oneness with Brahman. Such a person is not at all affected by the activities that might happen in the world or the body because he knows them to be illusory alone. This doesn’t mean that everyone should renounce from this world and take Sanyaas and go to Himalayas for doing penance and don’t care for the body J But this only means that the person is not affected by the activities happening with the body (because he knows that the body is illusory and not real – the Reality is Brahman or Consciousness alone which he is).
When thus a person realizes that he is the witness of the illusory world – he realizes the ultimate Reality that everything is Brahman alone. He realizes that the body which is seen and the world that is perceived all are Brahman or Consciousness alone. Thus, he realizes the ultimate Reality that there neither was any creation nor can there be any creation & that everything is Brahman alone.
Just to mention here that this state of realization the Ultimate Reality that everything is Brahman should not be blindly followed. One should first realize the Reality of the illusory world and then realize that everything is that Reality alone. Instead of this, if a person blindly tells that the body is Brahman only and hence he spends most of his time on treating the body and making it beautiful, he enters into blinding darkness alone. To such a person, if the body gets a wound – he will start crying aloud. But for a Jnaani, he knows that the body is unreal as body and real as Brahman and hence he will not at all be affected by the state of the body.
Thus, the Ultimate Reality or the Supreme Cause is Brahman and that Brahman I am, one without a second. The various objects that are being perceived are unreal and are nothing but illusions seen in the Reality of Brahman or Consciousness or “I”.
Thus, knowing this Reality is called Knowledge and this path of knowing the Reality is called Jnaana Yoga or path of knowledge.
Jnaana is tough to apprehend as it mainly stresses the illusoriness of the world. Normal people are so used to the world and its objects that they can’t even imagine that the world is illusory and unreal. Hence, this path of Jnaana is tough to be followed. Krishna himself mentions in Gita Chapter 12 that worship of the Nirguna Brahman is tough for those who have the feeling of embodiment (who have body-consciousness).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi beautifully explains this path of Knowledge in the next 15 verses which are simple and have depth in meaning. These if memorized and regularly chanted as well as implemented or realized will lead one to realize the Absolute Reality that “I am the Supreme Cause from which no effect or world can be created”.
Gita explains about Jnaana in Chapter 4
Na hi jnaanena sadrisham pavitram iha vidhyathe
Tat svayam yoga samsiddhah kaalena atmani vindhathi
There is nothing more pure or sacred than knowledge – because that knowledge when supported by establishment and practice of it, will make a person realize his very Self in due course (within a short time).
We will try to learn tomorrow more about the path of knowledge and the various means or pre requisites to it (according to the Vedanta or Upanishads).
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan 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. Jnaana 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. 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 Bhagavatha tells in the last few slokas
Srimad Bhagavatha puraanam amalam
Yad vaishnavaanaam priyam
Yasmin paaramahamsyam ekam
Jnaanam param geeyathe
Srimad Bhagavatha, 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 Bhagavatha and a person whose mind grasps this Reality attains Absolute nature (which is the effect of Srimad Bhagavatha learning).
Thus, all Vedantic work propounds 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 Sri Sri 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 perceives 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.
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 control of the mind (Mano Nigraha). The mind needs to be calm always if the Self has to realize. 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 control of mind is essential in the path of knowledge.
Dama is control of sense organs (Indriya Nigraha) – 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 (Svadharma Anushtana) 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 (Sheethoshna Sukkha Dukkhaadhi Sahishnuthvam) 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.
Sradha (Guru Vedanta Vakyadhishu Vishvaasaha Sraddha) 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 (Chitta Ekaagratha) is tranquility – this is establishing one’s mind always in the Self.
These six qualities are also pre requisites to the knowledge of Brahman.
Mumukshutva 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 these 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. Mumukshutva 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.
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. Sri Sri 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 Bhagavatha 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 Srimad Bhagavatha. 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 lion chasing a pregnant deer. The deer inorder to escape from the lion jumps into the river in the process its stomach is ripped open and a baby deer flowing in the water. King Bharatha who saw this felt sad & though there is no one except him to look after the deer. As he did not realize the Ultimate Reality of formless Brahman, 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 could 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 in his next birth. 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 – Now, therefore the enquiry into Brahman is started.
Here, now means after achieving Sadhana Chatushtaya. Therefore means since other means of action (Karma) 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.
Drishya vaaritham chittam atmanah
Chittva darshanam Tattva darshanam…..16
Drishya vaaritham chittam – the mind withdrawn from SEEN or external sense objects
Atmanah Chittva darshanam – is the vision of one’s own Consciousness.
Tattva darshanam – that is vision of Reality also.
The mind withdrawn from the seen is the vision of Consciousness. That is the vision of Reality also.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi starts the description of Jnaana Yoga from this sloka.
Vedanta splits the experience of the world into two distinct entities. These are the Drik or the Seer and the Drishya or the Seen. Drik is the Self which is the subject and never becomes object to any experience. Drishyas are the objects which become experience for the Seer. The external world, the mind, the intellect, the body, the various Gods of Vishnu, Brahma, Siva all are Drishyas alone. Drik or Seer is that which is not experienced but is the experiencer of all the experiences.
Such a Seer is called Brahman or the Self in the Vedanta. Brahman or the Self can never be experienced because it is the experiencer of all experiences. The “I” can never be experienced because it is the basis for all experiences. The “I” existing, all other objects exist. If the “I” ceases to exist, all objects vanish. Vedanta thus says that the Seer alone is the real and changeless entity. The objects or Seen are changing and temporary. They depend on the Seer for their existence. They always undergo changes. Any object which undergoes change is subject to birth and death. Hence, the objects in the world whether they be the body of a beautiful woman or cash are all subject change.
Objects which are changing and temporary can never give a person permanent happiness. It is happiness that is being searched by each and every person. Everybody has the same goal of Eternal Bliss. This Eternal Bliss cannot be got from temporary and changing objects. Hence Vedanta tells that Eternal Bliss can be got only from the Seer and not from the changing Seen.
Vedanta goes further and tells that one should identify the Seer and Seen and contemplate the mind on the Seer. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining in this sloka.
The Seen are just illusions seen in the Seer. The Seen don’t have any independent existence. They just seemingly exist in the Reality of Seer. A person dreams that he is walking in the road & meeting lot of people. But in Reality, there neither was any road nor the persons. Whatever was present in the dream state was the person or Consciousness alone. The dream world was just an illusion seen in Consciousness. Similarly the world that we perceive now is just an illusion seen in the Reality of the Self. The Self can be realized only when the mind is withdrawn from the external objects.
When the Reality of Self is forgotten through ignorance, mind comes into picture. This mind thus creates objects and directs the sense organs towards the sense objects. As long as the mind is extroverted, the Reality or the source of the mind cannot be realized. Hence the one and only way to realize the Self is to withdraw the mind from the external sense objects and contemplate on the Reality of Consciousness.
When thus the mind is withdrawn, it merges into its source of Consciousness. This is the vision of Consciousness, one’s own nature & vision of the ultimate Reality.
It should be remembered that withdrawing the mind doesn’t mean one has to close his eyes and remove objects from the mind. The objects in the world are nothing but names and forms of Brahman or Consciousness. Thus, when a person withdraws the mind from the names and forms & concentrates on the substratum or Reality of the objects which is Consciousness, he gets the vision of Reality. Such a vision is the real vision of the ultimate Reality behind the illusory dreaming waking world.
Yoga Vasistha says
Chit chetya kalanaa bandhah tanmuktaa muktiruchyathe
Chit achetyaa kila atmethi sarva Vedanta sangrahah
Consciousness when mixed with thoughts (in the mind) is called bondage & liberation is removal of the thoughts of the mind. Consciousness when not mixed with thoughts (or mind devoid of thoughts) is called the Self – this is the essence of Vedanta or Upanishads.
In order to withdraw the mind from the Seen and view the Seer – one first needs to identify what is Seer and what is Seen. One needs to discriminate between the Reality of Seer and unReality of Seen. This is what is termed Viveka which is one of the pre requisites for getting knowledge about Brahman.
A child tries to touch fire with his hand. But when he gains experience and becomes mature, he doesn’t touch fire with his hand. Initially the child didn’t have discrimination but now it has discrimination.
When the discrimination between real and unreal is not there, then the person cannot concentrate on the real. Most of the people today are concentrating on the Seen (which is unreal like water seen in desert). They run after the external objects in search of happiness. But finally they find out that there is no happiness but only sorrow in those objects. Those are to be considered as fools who don’t understand the illusory nature of the world & thereby try to realize the unchanging, ever-Blissful Self.
Krishna says in Gita Chapter 9
Anityam asukham lokam imam praapya bhajasva maam
This world is temporary & hence unreal as well as sorrowful in nature. Having attained this world, take refugee in Me (as the Self or Consciousness).
Thus, one should discriminate between the subject or Seer or Consciousness and the illusory Seen or objects of names and forms. Only when names and forms are removed, the Reality of Consciousness can be realized.
A person cannot identify the gold chain to be gold until he removes the name of chain and the form of gold chain. Only then can he identify the Reality of Gold. The name and form are only temporary – they are just illusions seen in gold. The Reality was, the Reality is and the Reality ever will be Gold alone (in the case of ornaments). Similarly the world is just names and forms of Brahman or Consciousness alone. When a person removes the names and forms, he perceives the Reality of Consciousness, one without a second. Thus, all the seeming dualities and diversities are only illusory names and forms seen in the Reality of Consciousness.
Realizing this Reality of Consciousness is termed as Realization or Liberation or Enlightenment. This can be realized only when the names and forms are removed. These names and forms are unreal and are termed as the Seen or Drishya. When the names and forms are removed from the mind, the mind merges into the Self & the Reality is realized. When dirt is removed from a mirror, one’s face is seen perfectly. But when the mirror is filled with dirt, the face is not perceived. Similarly when the mind is purified and seen is removed; the Reality of Consciousness is realized. The mind itself has no existence of its own but seems to exist in the Reality of Consciousness alone.
But somehow ignorance came into picture (seems to have created or come) and because of this ignorance dualities are perceived & sorrow-sufferings follow. But when knowledge about the Reality is realized, ignorance which itself is illusory alone vanishes & only pure Self exists, one without a second.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka puts forth what is meant by realization and in the further slokas, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains the path to realize the Reality.
A person should always remember that Consciousness or “I” alone is the Reality. The other objects are just illusions seen in Consciousness. They come and go, but Consciousness alone remains without any change or modification. This Consciousness or Self is not something to be newly attained but it is ever-realized. What is to be done is removal of the obstacles to one’s own real nature of Consciousness. This can be done only when the mind is withdrawn from the seen and contemplates on the Seer. When this is done, the Self alone shines as Absolute existence, Consciousness and Bliss. This is the ultimate Reality and goal of human life.
Everybody is Consciousness or the Self alone. In fact, there is no everybody but only Consciousness. This Reality has to be realized here and now itself – if not, man will have to suffer in the vicious circle of birth and death. And there will be sufferings at all times.
Isn’t it pity that we all are Bliss Absolute in nature but still go around the world searching for happiness & crying helplessly & suffering & fighting with each other. And at times, crying out to the Almighty (after all faults have been done by us alone) that he may help us out we never understand sorrows and sufferings are not created by God but they are our own creations. They are created only because of ignorance of our own very nature. The Reality about one’s own nature alone will lead one to Eternal Bliss. The scripture calls people who don’t realize their own very nature as “MOODAH” or FOOLS.
This is the reason why Sri Sri Sankara said
Bhaja govindam bhaja govindam govindam bhaja moodamathe
O Fool!!! Realize the Self, realize your own very nature of Consciousness (Govindam means controller of Go or sense organs which is the Self alone).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has explained in short what is vision of Consciousness or realization & vision of Reality in this sloka. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi also has explained in short how this Reality is realized. In the next few slokas, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gives the definite path of Self-Enquiry to realize the Self.
Maanasam tu kim maargane krithe
Naiva maanasam marge arjavaath…..17
Kim maargane Krithe – What is the source of
Naiva maanasam – (thus when one enquires one finds that) there is no mind.
Marge arjavaath – this is the direct path to Reality
When a person enquires “What is the source of the mind”, he finds out that there is no mind. This is the direct path to Reality.
The path that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi told people to follow (when questioned) was the path of Self-Enquiry. This path of Self-Enquiry is called Vichara. This is not a new path propounded by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi but this is one of the oldest path put forth in Yoga Vasistha as well as mentioned by Sri Sri Sankara also.
As mentioned earlier, all sorrow and sufferings are due to ignorance alone, ignorance about one’s own Reality of Absolute Bliss. As a result of this ignorance, a person thinks himself to be imperfect & strives to become perfect. Thus, he goes on searching for God as well as Bliss in the external world which is only an illusion seen in the Reality of Consciousness which is his very nature. God and Bliss are not separate from the seeker but they are the very essence of the seeker. When this Absolute Reality about one’s own perfect nature is known, all thirst for happiness and knowledge ends. At that time, there remains only the Self or Consciousness – one without a second. This Reality of Consciousness is the only thing present even when the seeker considers himself as ignorant & in bondage. Bondage and ignorance are themselves illusions created by the mind in the Self alone. These all arise because of ignorance of the real nature of oneself as the pure Consciousness.
A story is popularly told about the place where God stays!
In ancient times, the various Deities or Gods had a meeting to solve a problem. Humans had started disturbing Gods a lot. First, Gods used to stay in Vaikunta and Himalayas where normal humans could not reach. But due to siddhis and other reasons, humans started reaching even those places & hence they were disturbing Gods too frequently. Thus, Gods wanted an immediate solution for the same. Suddenly one young God suggested a solution. That solution was implemented. And to this day, we all are still searching for God – unable to find him (here Gods is mentioned just to bring out the import of the story properly. As the ancient Rig Vedic hymn tells Ekam Sad Vipraa Bahudaa Vadanthi – One Truth or God is being called differently by different people).
The hiding place where God is staying is the heart of the humans. It is pretty obvious that police will search the robber in external places except in his house. Similarly, everyone is trying to find out God in the external world or assuming that he is staying in Vaikunta ready to welcome the person after he shed his mortal coil Isn’t it foolish enough to think that God is someone staying in heaven and who can be realized only after death of this mortal body? The scriptures as well as Lord Krishna again and again stress that God is present in the heart of human beings & he has to be realized here in this birth itself and not after death or after reaching Vaikunta / Kailaas.
Thus, the one and only way to realize the God or the Self is to enquire into one’s own real nature. The heart represents the real nature or the place where Consciousness starts the various modifications of mind, ego etc. Therefore, to find out God, one has to enquiry into the real nature of “I” or Consciousness that we all already are. This Reality is being obstructed due to ignorance about the real place of God, about the Reality that “I am God, I am Consciousness, I am Brahman of the nature of Absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss”.
Hence the only way to remove this ignorance is to enquire into one’s own nature. Enquiry is inevitable because it is forgetfulness of one’s own nature which has caused illusory sufferings and sorrows. Enquiry is nothing but trying to find out the answer to the question “Who am I?”
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi points out in this sloka, when the source of the mind is searched, the mind itself vanishes (the mind which itself is an illusion seen in the Self or Consciousness alone). The mind is nothing but collection of thoughts or simply thoughts. When these thoughts are removed, what remains behind is the THINKER. The thinker of the thoughts is Consciousness or the Self alone. Thus, when thoughts or mind is removed, Self alone remains. As explained in the objects or thoughts (here the objects for the THINKER are thoughts) are nothing but illusions seen in the Subject or the Thinker.
One may ask if the objects are an illusion in subject – how is this right?
Any Reality can be known through the logic of Anvaya – Vyatireka.
Anvaya means co-existence – if the Thinker is there, thoughts are there.
Vyatireka means co-absence – if the Thinker is not there, thoughts are not there.
Therefore, one can conclude that the thoughts are only illusions seen in the thinker because there are no thoughts distinct from the thinker & separate from the thinker.
Any illusion has a substratum which is real. The illusion vanishes when its source or the substratum is searched and found out.
A person sees snake in the rope. When the person tries to find out the source of the snake, he finds that there is no snake but only rope. Similarly when the source of the mind or the Ego is found out, the mind which is an illusion vanishes & the Reality of Consciousness or the Self alone remains.
Let us now try to analyze the question “Who am I”. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentions in this sloka, the answer to this question is the direct path to Reality.
Sri Sri Sankara tells about Vichara in Vivekachoodamani
Chittasya suddhaye karma ta vasthu upalabdhaye
Vasthu siddhir vicharena na kinchit karma kotibhih
Actions are meant for purification of mind and not for realization the Reality (Vasthu is that which is real – Reality is one alone & there are not many realities). Reality can be known only through Self-Enquiry and not through crores of actions.
Yoga Vasistha speaks about Vichara
Moksha dvaare dvaarapaalah chatvaari kathithaani maneeshibhi
Samo vicharah santhoshah chaturthah sadhu sangamah
The door of liberation is guarded by four sentries of Sama-mental calmness, Vichara-Enquiry, Santhosha-contentment and Sadhu Sangama-mixing with realized people.
Thus, Vedanta stresses the importance of Vichara as the path to realization. The thoughts are illusions on the thinker. Mind is nothing but thoughts alone. Hence mind itself is an illusion seen in the Reality of Consciousness. When Reality is known, the illusion vanishes. The illusion has its source in the Consciousness (even though the illusion itself is unreal but since it is temporarily perceived and to overcome it, one has to search for its so-called source). Thus, when the source of the illusion is searched for, the illusion vanishes and Consciousness alone remains.
The path of Enquiry is trying to find out where the thoughts come from. One finds that thoughts come from “I”. What is this “I”? Let us try to analyze this.
I cannot be the body because the body keeps changing. And the body is not present in dream state but still I am present. Therefore I am not this body. Also I state – my hands are good, my face is beautiful – this shows that I am not the hands or face or the body.
I am not the sense organs also. Yesterday I saw a pot. Today I touch that pot. Hence, I who saw the pot yesterday am touching the pot today. This means that I am different from sight and touch both since these both depend upon me. Therefore I am not the five sense organs of eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin. I am also not the five organs of action of hands, feet, mouth, reproductory organ and excretory organ.
I am not the mind also because mind is always full of thoughts which are changing each moment. These changing thoughts are thought by ME. Hence I cannot be the mind also.
I am not the intellect because today the intellect is determining something and tomorrow it will determine something else. But these both determinations are performed by ME alone.
I am not the Ego also. Because today I call Shiva my God, but tomorrow I call Vishnu as my God. Therefore, the mineness which is seen in both the cases “I” am the constant factor. The Ego is an identification of “I” with some objects. This means today the Ego is attachment to a person, tomorrow it might be attachment to another person. But this attachment is not ME because I am without any attachments as in Deep Sleep state.
Therefore, I am Consciousness – that which is conscious of all objects. I am the Self of the nature of Existence because I am the only thing which can experience existence of its own – as I have the pulsation “I exist, I exist” each and every moment. I am that Existence which makes other things exists. I am the only thing which is of the nature of Existence and Consciousness – existence as experience of existence is there & consciousness as conscious of the existence of itself and other objects. And I am Bliss also because in Deep Sleep, there is only ME and there is Bliss enjoyed in that state. And in this waking state also, he who realizes this Ultimate Reality that “I am the Self, distinct from body, mind, ego etc” can enjoy the Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self.
Thus, from the external illusory body to the innermost Self – thus enquiring is termed as Vichara or Self-Enquiry. This is the direct path to realization as this direct leads one to the Consciousness, one without a second & which is the Ultimate Reality of this illusory and seemingly existent world.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the next sloka mentions that thoughts have their source in “I-thought” and therefore “I-thought” is the mind. This “I-thought” or the first thought of “I-I” which is called Ego has its source in the Self or pure Consciousness alone.
Vritthayasthvaham vrittim aasrithaah
Vrittayo manah viddhyaham manah…..18
Tu – Now
Vrittayah manah – Thoughts are the mind.
Vrittayah aham vrittim aasritaah – the thoughts indeed depend upon I-Thought.
Viddhi – Therefore know that
Aham manah – I-thought is the mind.
Now, thoughts are the mind. The thoughts depend upon I-thought alone. Hence know that I-thought is the mind.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here gives the explanation about the mind which was mentioned in the previous sloka as vanishing when enquired into its nature and source.
It is a very well known fact that mind is full of thoughts. Therefore, mind is thoughts alone. If there are no thoughts, then there is no mind at all.
Sankalpa Vikalpaatmakam Manah – says Vedanta
Mind is full of thoughts and modifications.
When I am writing this, it is a thought being converted into words and into the computerized words. When a person starts meditating, it is a thought that propels the act of meditation. All these times, there is the mind acting.
If a person doesn’t think anything, then there is no mind at all. The very nature of mind is confusion or doubts. The moment thoughts vanish – all doubts vanish. This is the reason why a person when he understands a topic clearly, all doubts vanish & he gets happiness (temporary happiness). This is because at this point of time, the mind has ceased to function as there are no doubts or thoughts.
Hence, mind and thoughts are synonyms.
Now, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that the thoughts depend upon the “I-thought” for their existence. Or in other words, the “I-thought” is the source of all other thoughts.
Let us just try to analyze this. When a person is starting to think something, there must be the “I-thought” present. “I-thought” is nothing but the Ego or Ahamkaara. Without the thought that I am the thinker, no thoughts can arise. This thinker is being attached or identified with the act of thinking. This thinker or Ego is also termed as Jeeva or individual Self in Upanishads. Without Jeeva existing, no thoughts can arise – because for all thoughts, there should be a thinker who is endowed with the power of thinking. This is called “I-thought”. Only when the thought of “I-I” is present, can any other thought arise.
A person thinks “I am intelligent”. This very statement can be split into two parts – Aham or I part & Idam part of this part (objects part). Here the two parts are I and the property or attribute of intelligence. When these two are mixed together or superimposition occurs, the thought occurs that “I am intelligent”. It is easy to understand here that intelligence is a dependent attribute where “I” is an independent entity. Therefore “I” must have been created or arised before the thought of intelligence.
Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that all thoughts are preceded by the “I-thought” – the thought of individuality, the thought of ego, the thought of being the doer-enjoyer of all actions.
Since it has been proved that “I-thought” is the source from which all other thoughts arise, it is not tough to apprehend the truth that all thoughts are modifications or changes of “I-thought”. The effect of all thoughts can never be different from the cause of “I-thought”. Therefore all thoughts are “I-thought” alone with some changes or modifications. And since the thoughts are the mind, therefore “I-thought” is the mind.
The mathematical equation of what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is explaining can be put as
Mind = thoughts
I-thought -> thoughts (-> creates or changes into)
Hence, I-thought = mind.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the previous sloka explained that the mind itself is not at all present & when enquired into its source it will vanish. In this sloka Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi goes to the source of the mind which is the “I-thought”. When this “I-thought” or Ego’s source is enquired – it vanishes and merges into the Self because it is from pure I or Consciousness that “I-thought” arises. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains this step of enquiring into the source of “I-thought” in the next sloka.
A person should not confuse or mix I with I-thought. I is pure Consciousness without any doership or endowed with capability to do actions. But I-thought is the first thought arising out of Consciousness which becomes endowed with doership and hence enjoyership also. This I-thought of Ego is the doer of all actions – it is responsible for the perception of the world, the sorrows, the sufferings, the temporary happiness, bondage and liberation also. This I-thought arises out of Consciousness because of ignorance. Ignorance in itself has no cause – it is beginningless but has an ending when knowledge dawns.
One may question here that how come there is no cause for ignorance and will this not make ignorance also a Reality without birth and death?
This objection is valid only if ignorance is a real entity. Ignorance is in itself illusory and has no existence at all. Such an illusory ignorance need not have a cause because it is not real. It can seem to exist at the present time like the snake is seen at a time in the rope (even though the snake has no cause at all). But when the Reality that there is no ignorance and that ignorance is an illusion seen in Consciousness is known, ignorance vanishes & hence it has an end. When the Reality of rope is known, the snake which seemed to exist vanishes or the snake has an end. As the illusory snake has no beginning but an end, similarly the world caused out of ignorance has no beginning but an end.
All the above explanation is for the ignorant person who perceives the illusory world even as the dream world is being perceived as real during dream.
For the known person, there never was any snake in the rope and similarly there never was any ignorance & there never will be any ignorance.
A little investigation will show that there can never arise any thought in the Self because the Self is pure, perfect and complete. Such a contented and perfect thing cannot have any desire so that thoughts may arise. And moreover, the Self is one without a second – and there is no second thing apart from the Self about which it can think. Therefore, there never was any I-thought, there never is any I-thought and there never will be any I-thought. The I-thought which seems to exist now is unreal like the snake seen in rope and water seen in desert.
The slokas that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, Sri Sri Sankara and Upanishads put forth for removal of ignorance and bondage is only to pacify the intermediate seeker & to make the seeker wake up from the illusory dream of duality and ignorance in the world. As a dream lion is capable of waking up the dreamer, similarly this process of enquiry is capable of waking up the ever-realized and seemingly ignorant Consciousness to wake up and realize the ultimate Reality of Nitya Sudha Buddha Mukta Atma – ever-pure, realized and enlightened Self or Consciousness.
In any illusion, when the source of the illusion is enquired, the illusion vanishes and the source or substratum alone remains. Similarly when the illusion of the world which are nothing but thoughts – and thoughts which are the mind – and the mind which has its source in I-thought or Ego – and its source are enquired, this illusion of I-thought vanishes and the pure I or pure Consciousness alone remains behind.
That state is the state of Absolute Being – the state where the thinker exists without the adjunctions or the quality of thinking and without any thoughts – the state where the Subject exists without any objects. Here one should remember that the thinker or the Subject gets the status of thinker or Subject only when thoughts or Objects are there. But when thoughts and objects vanish – only the thinker and Subject remain without any distinctions or dualities. This Absolute state is the natural state of the Self or Consciousness. This is the state of each person even now – but this Reality is not known because of illusory ignorance and its creations.
As a person dreaming doesn’t realize that there never was any dream and that the dream world I am seeing and experiencing is unreal – similarly the waking person in ignorance (which itself is an illusion and absence of the knowledge about the Self) doesn’t realize that the world is an illusion alone and hence unreal. He doesn’t realize the ultimate Reality of SARVAM BRAHMA MAYAM – everything is pervaded by Brahman, SARVAM KHALU IDAM BRAHMA – everything here is Brahman alone and that AHAM BRAHMASMI – I am that Brahman alone.
This Self or Brahman or Consciousness a person already is. What the Upanishads and Vedanta do is to remove the ignorance veil that obstructs this Ultimate Reality being experienced or known. Vedanta by means of telling about one’s own nature removes the ignorance about one’s own nature which is obstructing the Reality about one’s own nature. Thereby, when this ignorance is removed by the vritthi or the thoughts propounded by the scriptures – the Self alone shines, one without a second.
As Gaudapada Acharya and Yoga Vasistha explain, there never was any duality, there never is and there never will be any duality. Whatever is being perceived is the Self or Consciousness alone. The I-thought which arises out of Consciousness can never be different from the Consciousness as the dream world and its object arising out of the dreamer is not different from the dream. And hence, mind is also Consciousness, thoughts are also Consciousness, the world and its objects are also Consciousness alone. This Reality is not known and hence Consciousness is clearly experienced when traced back to its source. All these are only names and forms of Consciousness. Names and forms are not realities and only illusions seen in the Reality. Therefore, when the Reality of Consciousness is known – without any adjunctions of names and forms – a person realizes that names and forms are also Consciousness alone. Hence, at that time duality vanishes. The sorrow and sufferings occur due to likes and dislikes alone. When the non-duality is known, there is nothing to be liked or disliked and hence sorrow-sufferings vanish – and only pure Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self is realized and rejoiced.
This is the ultimate aim of Vedanta.
Sri Sri Sankara says in Brahmajnaanavalimala
Ghata khudyaadikam sarvam mrittikaa maatrameva
Tadvad brahma jagat sarvam ithi vedantha dindima
Pot, wall are all Mud alone. Similarly the world & its objects are Brahman alone – this is statement of Vedanta.
Only when this ultimate non-dual Reality is realized can a person gain Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self. Dual perception is the cause of all trouble and sorrow. The one and only end to this is realization that duality is unreal and an illusion seen in Brahman or Self alone & when Brahman is realized, the person realizes that the world is Brahman or Consciousness alone – there is no duality here but only Brahman.
As Yoga Vasistha says
Samastham khalu idam brahma sarvam atmedamaatatam
Aham anya idam cha anyad ithi branthim tyaja anagha
O Rama endowed with purity of mind, everything is Brahman alone – the Self or Consciousness alone is seen as the world. Hence renounce the illusion that “I am different, this or these objects are different”.
Tathe brahmaghane nitye sambhavanthi na kalpanaah
Vitchetchayah payoraashau yatha raama na sanmayaah
As bubbles, waves don’t have any existence apart from water – similarly in the ultimate Reality of Brahman, no illusions are possible & all illusions have no existence at all.
Na shokah asthi na mohah asthi na janma asthi na janmavaan
Yad asthi tadeva asthi vijvaro bhava raaghava
O Rama, there is no sorrow, no delusion, no birth & nothing is born. Whatever is present, that alone is present – hence don’t get sad.
Here Vasistha puts forth the logic that there is Brahman alone. Whatever is present that alone can be present at all times – the unreal can never exist – the real alone exists. The scriptures and experience tell that Consciousness or Brahman alone exist – hence there is only Brahman which is being wrongly perceived as the world.
This Brahman is not something to be attained after death or after going to Brahma loka – but this Brahman is one’s own very Self or one’s own very nature. There is no other Reality separate from Brahman – whatever is wrongly perceived as an illusion is also Brahman alone. Hence the world that is wrongly seen is unreal as the world but real as the Reality of Brahman. As there is no separate Reality from Brahman which has existence, the Self or Consciousness which experiences its own existence has to be Brahman alone. This is what Upanishads and great Mahatmaas proclaim. This Reality that “I am Brahman, I am everything – there is nothing but Me alone” is to be realized and this has been put forth in the Upanishads.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the previous sloka explained that when the source of mind is enquired, mind vanishes. In this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi said that mind has its source in I-thought. In the next sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is going to explain the way to realize the source of the I-thought – which is the Self or pure Consciousness knowing which Eternal Bliss is rejoiced and nothing else remains to be known.
Aham ayam kuto bhavathi chinvatha
Ayi patathyaham nija vicharanam…..19
Kutah – From where
Ayam – this
Aham – I-thought
Bhavathi – is created or arises,
Chinvatha – thus for a person enquiring into it
Ayi – Oh!
Aham Patathi – the I-thought vanishes.
Nija Vicharanam – this is Self-Enquiry.
“From where this I-thought arises”, thus for an enquiring person, I-thought vanishes. This is Self-Enquiry.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here explains how a person can follow the Ego or I-thought from which all thoughts arise to the pure I or Consciousness.
Each and every object in this world has been created from Brahman or Consciousness alone. This has been told in the scriptures as well as common experience also proves the same.
The world of experience can be split into two distinct terms or categories – the Conscious or sentient and the insentient. The sentient is also called Drik or Seer and the insentient is also called Drishya or Seen. A person can very well understand that the Seen depend on the Seer for their existence. If the Seer disappears, the Seen also disappear. But even when the Seen disappears, the Seer remains. Thus, Seer is the real thing and Seen is just an illusion seen in the Reality of Seer.
“I” thought is a Relative term and the Self is the Absolute. It is impossible to know the Absolute from a Relative point of view, to know the Absolute the Relative has to become Absolute. In doing so the Relative ceases to be Relative. Hence the “I” thought merges with Absolute Self.
Thus, the world comprising of the Seen is created or rather seems to exist in the Seer. Therefore, scriptures proclaim that from Brahman or Consciousness, all this world of duality or the Seen was created (here created only means a relative term which when viewed Absolutely is only an illusion seen in the Reality of Consciousness). Therefore, the source of the Seen is the Seer (again once has to remember that there never has been any creation so that the source of the illusory creation might be searched. As the illusory snake vanishes when its source of rope is found out, similarly the illusory world vanishes when its source of Consciousness is found out). Hence, to realize the Self, one has to enquiry into the source of the Seen – the objects.
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explained in the previous slokas, the I-thought is the foremost of all thoughts. It is from I-thought that all thoughts arise. The first creation that arises out of Consciousness is the I-thought which is a limitation of the unlimited Self or Consciousness. This Consciousness gets limited to a body or mind or a thought and thus becomes the I-thought. From this I-thought, all creation of body, mind, the external objects etc get created. Hence, the ultimate aim of realizing the Self or pure “I” is through enquiring into the I-thought whose source is pure Consciousness alone.
This path is called the path of Enquiry – enquiry into one’s own very nature through the question “Who am I”. I am not this body because the body keeps changing but I am always stable. I say that I have hands, I have a body – therefore I cannot be the body. I cannot be the mind which is full of thoughts and hence changing. The thoughts require a thinker which I am. I am not the intellect because the intellect always tries to determine things – this determination requires a determiner. I am not the Ego or I-thought because Ego keeps on changing based on the limitations or adjunctions that are subjected to it. But I am always changeless, ever-Eternal and ever-Blissful. I am the Consciousness of the nature Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute – ever experienced by everyone.
Thus, the question “who am I”, when pursued in the right way will lead to the ultimate Reality that “I am the Self”. When this ultimate Reality is known, then the person realizes that the objects which were first negated as not Me, not Me are only illusions seen in the Self or Consciousness and hence they are not different from Consciousness. They are Consciousness alone but wrongly seen as the mind, the body and the external sense objects. Whatever is present is only the Self or Consciousness. There is nothing except Consciousness in this dual world. Whatever seems to exist, whatever exists, whatever will ever exist – all are Brahman alone.
Yat cha kinchit jagad sarvam drishyathe srooyathe api va
Anthar bahischa tat sarvam vyaapya naaraayana sthitatah
Whatever is present in this world and are perceived through eyes, ears etc, everything is pervaded in and out by Narayana or Brahman itself.
This only means that whatever is present is Brahman alone – there is nothing but Brahman alone.
Sri Sri Sankara says the same in Brahmajnaanavalee maala
Ghatkudyaadikam sarvam mrittikaa maatrameva
Tadvad brahma jagad sarvam ithi vedantha didima
As mud pot, mud wall – all are mud alone. Similarly the world is Brahman alone, this is the essence of Vedanta and what Vedanta is roaring out at the top of its voice.
Thus, when the path of enquiry is pursued – the ultimate Reality of Self or Consciousness is realized, one without a second.
In fact, there is no enquiry required for the ever-realized Self. We all are that alone. But we have forgotten this ultimate Reality through ignorance of our own nature. Hence, this illusory ignorance has to be negated through knowledge of one’s own nature. When the knowledge of the Self is contemplated and realized through enquiry, the illusory ignorance gets removed or destroyed. Thereafter, one sees the Self shining in its ever-realized state.
It is due to ignorance that sorrows and sufferings arise. This ignorance makes one think that he is imperfect and the strive for perfection continues. This strive is performed only in the external world of sense objects. We all sit in beautiful chairs and beautiful houses with all the external pleasures but having no peace of mind, contentment and happiness!
Isn’t it a pity that the ever-realized Self that we all already are and still we are searching for realization?
Isn’t it a pity that the perfect Self is searching for perfection in the external world forgetting its own very nature of perfectness?
Isn’t it a pity that we all fight in the name of religion, power, money, caste and creed but still forget that all these are only illusions in the one Consciousness that we all are?
Isn’t it a pity that we all struggle years to earn a name in this illusory world but forget to realize the ultimate Reality hiding within and therefore seek to attain immortality after going to heaven?
Isn’t it a pity that we forget our own real nature of distinct from body and that of Consciousness, but resist to remove the superimposed and wrong notion that I am the body and the mind?
No God, no Mahatma can save a person from sufferings except through this knowledge of one’s own nature. The different paths of devotion, action, yoga and knowledge only lead one to this final state of non-dual knowledge or Enquiry into one’s own nature. There is no other way than this to immortality, to perfection, to the state of Eternal Bliss.
And as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi mentioned a couple of slokas before, this path of Enquiry is the direct path. Any person who wants to overcome this world or samsara born out of IGNORANCE-DESIRE-ACTION or Avidya-Kaama-Karma and making him go from happiness to sorrow, sorrow to happiness has to come to this stage where he realizes his own very nature of Bliss and ever-realized Self.
Sri Sri Sankara mentions that if something is attained new, then it will be lost also. Hence, immortality if attained new will be lost also. Therefore, the Self is already immortal – a person is already realized, only this knowledge that I am realized is veiled by ignorance. This ignorance needs to be removed by the knowledge about one’s own nature. And the path to it is Enquiring into one’s own nature through the question “Who am I” which when pursued consistently leads one to one’s own real nature of Consciousness.
This enquiry needs to consistently practice until ignorance completely vanishes out & not even a single moment passes by without this ultimate knowledge that I am the Self. As everything is forgotten because of memory and the mind, this Reality also might be forgotten after some time (because of the strong opposite experience that I am the body). Hence, enquiry must be pursued unless ignorance is completely rooted out.
Hence Upanishads say,
Nimeshaardham na thisthanthi vrittim brahma mayeem vina
Yatha thisthanthi brahmaadyaah sanakaadhyaah sukaadayah
Not even a single second should a person remain without the thought that “I am Brahman” – as Brahma, Sanaka and Suka all remain.
Thus, remaining as the Self at all times, ignorance completely vanishes and such a person realizes his own realized and liberated state even though he doesn’t want it.
Dehaatmadheevad jnaanam dehaatmajnaana baadhakam
Bhaved yasya na icchan api sa muchyathe
For a person who has the knowledge that “I am the Self” as a normal person has the conviction that “I am the body”, he even though not wanting gets liberated.
In the next sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains the state when this I-thought is removed. One may think that when the I-thought is removed, everything vanishes and therefore voidness alone remains. This is what has been construed by the Madhyamaka school of Buddhists who say that out of voidness everything came and the ultimate Reality is void alone. In order to refute the theory of voidness or sunyavaada as well as to give the seeker a glimpse of how that state of ultimate Reality would be – Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi puts forth the next sloka.
Ahami naasha bhaajyaham aham tayaa
Sphurathi Hrut Svayam parama poorna sat…..20
Ahami Naasha bhaaji – When the I-thought (Ego or Ahamkaara) is destroyed,
Hrut – the pure I or Consciousness present in the spiritual heart
Sphurathi – shines forth
Svayam – on its own
Parama Poorna Sat – as the Supreme and perfect Existence.
When I-thought or Ego is destroyed, the pure I shines forth on its own as the Supreme and perfect (full) Existence.
The I that is shining now as the father I, mother I, brother I, professional I, lover I is not pure Consciousness. It is “I” attached or associated with the body, the mind and other things. This attached or identified I is called Ahamkaara or Ego.
Until Ego is present, the real I or pure Consciousness cannot be known. Consciousness is unmixed with the body and the mind because it is one without a second and it is the real substratum on which other illusions of body and mind seem to exist. Hence, it is pretty obvious that only when Ego subdues, the Consciousness or real I is known.
Thus, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that when the Ego is destroyed or killed, the pure Consciousness shines on its own. Consciousness doesn’t require any other light to prove its existence. It is the light which gives other lights power. It is Consciousness which makes objects visible. It is Consciousness which when shining, the Sun and other sources of light shine. It is Consciousness whose existence makes other objects exist. Thus Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that Consciousness shines on its own without any external dependency (because Consciousness alone is the ultimate Reality – other things are only unreal and illusory appearances in Consciousness).
At the time of power cut a torch light is require to see if a person is persent, the torch is of no use to know that I am present since the conciousness in me is the same existence in me.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi lastly explains the nature of Consciousness or pure I which is realized when Ego is destroyed?
One doubt that can occur to the seeker is that there is no such thing as pure Consciousness. There is only Ego which is attached with objects. When objects vanish, there remains nothing – even “I” disappear as in death. This is how the Buddhist school of Madhyaamaka or Soonyavada tell about the Ultimate Reality as void. This is not right even according to scriptures and experience.
This has been explained by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi through the words “Parama Poorna Sat” – as the Supreme and complete Existence. When the objects are removed or destroyed, it is not void that remains but the subject remains who was the remover. When everything is negated, the negator still remains. The negator or remover or subject cannot be negated or removed – it is Self-Existent and is the only thing that is never destroyed. Thus when the Ego is destroyed (meaning when objects are destroyed and the contact with them is destroyed), the pure Consciousness alone remains (without any external objects). This is the state of realization; this is what is experienced in Deep Sleep.
Upanishads proclaim that death is not cessation of existence but is only removal of this body and entering into another world. Sleep (dream) is compared with death by Upanishads. When we dream, we don’t have this gross body but create a new subtle body and enjoy the pleasures in that state. And once dream is over, we return back to this waking world. Similarly after death, another world is attained according to actions & then again the person returns to this earth.
In all these states, I never dies. Pure Consciousness can never be removed or destroyed as it is the Subject and Subject can never be destroyed. Only objects can be destroyed.
Deep Sleep is the state which is compared to state of realization. In Deep Sleep also, there are no objects. But still the Consciousness or I exist. This only shows that even when objects are destroyed, “I” still exist but not as the Ego but as pure Consciousness without any identification or attachment (because in this state there are no external objects to get attached to or get identified with).
Thus, when the Ego is destroyed, the Consciousness alone remains in its natural state of pure and complete Existence. Now, what we experience as I is not perfect as it is attached to limited objects (limited by space and time). As limited nature is there, happiness also will be limited alone – and hence imperfect nature will be present also. Only when the “I” is realized as not the Ego but as pure Consciousness which is perfect and full Existence or SAT, can one rejoice in the Eternal and perfect Bliss of the Self or Consciousness.
Here destroying the Ego doesn’t mean to kill the Ego – the Ego can never be killed because it in itself is an illusion only. Illusions can never be killed but their illusoriness or unreal nature is known when their substratum is known. The snake seen in the rope can never be killed but only the rope is known, snake dies by itself (the snake which had no existence at all and just seemed to exist, seems to get killed when the substratum is known). At that time, the person realizes that there never was any snake and there never will be any snake at all.
Similarly, there is no Ego, no world – but only pure Consciousness alone. But somehow due to ignorance, the world seems to exist and Ego seems to have existence (this is the very nature of Brahman or Consciousness – the question how this Ego or ignorance came about is invalid because the Ego never came to exist but only seems to exist and is an illusion. Trying to find out the question or analysis of illusions are useless – the only way to overcome the illusions which seem to exist is to know their substratum and the Reality). Since, Ego seems to exist – it must be destroyed through enquiry into its source of Consciousness. At that time, the Reality is known that there never was any Ego, there never is any Ego and there never be any Ego at all. Ego is just an illusion seen in Consciousness. Whatever is perceived as Ego and the world are in fact Consciousness alone. When this ultimate Reality that “I am Consciousness and the world is nothing but Consciousness alone” is known, and then there remains no duality, there remain no likes & dislikes; there remains no sorrow but only Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self.
This Bliss is what everyone is searching here and there. Some people are searching in money, some in power, some in fame, some in women, some in politics, some in religion, some in temples, some in the scriptures. There can be an end to these searches only when the Reality is known that the searched object is present in the searcher alone. Thus, happiness which is the ultimate goal of any person is the very nature of Consciousness or the person. This Reality has to be known for sorrow and sufferings to end. This Reality is to be known to become perfect, complete and for contentment.
The direct and only way to this is enquiring into one’s own nature through the question “Who am I”. When this is enquired, the Ego vanishes as it has no existence at all – and the pure Consciousness shines as its own as Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.
For this Reality to be known, the illusion must vanish. The illusion starts with the Ego or identification alone – thus when Ego is killed, one attains immortality.
Thus Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi gave answers to many people as “Die yourself and become immortal”. Here Dying is for the Ego and immortality is knowing that I am Consciousness. It is very well known that when illusion is seen, the Reality is not known. When a person sees snake in the rope, he cannot perceive the rope. Similarly when Ego is present, its source and substratum of Consciousness cannot be known. The Ego has to die and then the ultimate Reality of Consciousness, one without a second will be realized.
Sri Ramakrishna asked Vivekananda “there is a pot full of nectar and you are fly. How will you drink the nectar?”
Swami Vivekananda answered “I will sit in one end of the pot and drink the nectar”.
Sri Ramakrishna laughed and said “O Fool! The pot is full of immortal nectar, jump into the pot and you will become immortal. Instead of just sitting at one end and getting partial immortality – jump into the pot and become immortal”.
To become immortal, one has to jump into the ocean of Consciousness. A person is the salt doll and when the salt doll jumps into the ocean of Consciousness (which is full of salt), the individuality or Ego is killed – and pure Consciousness or ocean with salt alone remains.
It is upto the individual whether he wants to realize his Eternal Reality and become immortal – or whether he wants to remain individual and be an enjoyer of sorrow-happiness.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells a story about killing the Ego and becoming immortal (Dying and becoming immortal).
There were two birds sitting in a tree in a forest. A person came to the forest and caught one of the birds and put it in a cage at his home. The bird in the cage was given food regularly – it lived very well thinking that it was happy and free but it was in the bondage of the cage. One day the person was again going to the forest and asked the bird in the cage whether it wanted anything to be conveyed to the other friend in the forest. The cage-bird told “Tell the other bird that I get good food and everything but only I am in a cage”. The person went to the forest and enquired about the other bird. Then he saw the bird and conveyed what the cage-bird had told. The bird in the forest fell down. The person realized that it had died. He went back home and told the news to the cage-bird that the other bird had died. Hearing this, the cage-bird also fell down. The person was very sad and thought that he should not have told the message to the bird in the forest. As he could not keep the dead-bird in the cage, he threw it out. Suddenly, the cage-bird flew up to a tree and said to the person “O Fool!!! I am not dead neither is the bird in the forest dead. The bird in the forest told me to die and become free. I did as told and am now free”.
There is lot of import in the above story. We are all the bird in the cage. We think we are all enjoying in the sensual life in great houses, great cars, and great buildings and amidst money, power and everything. But we forget that we are staying in the cage of Samsaara of the nature of birth and death. We forget that we have come to this world with nothing and one find day we have to leave everything and go with nothing. We are in bondage of desire, ignorance, likes-dislikes but think we are happy with everything. Once we realize that we are in bondage, we will start thinking like the cage-bird. Then we will get the right person or the Guru to guide us to the Ultimate Reality. Guru need not be a person at all – the great Upanishads and scriptures are Gurus alone, the words of Mahatmas are Gurus alone. Thus, the Guru will instruct DIE or kill the Ego and become free. When we, like the cage-bird kill the Ego, the bondage which is illusory vanishes and the person becomes immortal and realizes his real nature of Consciousness.
The bird was never in bondage but only seemed to be in bondage – when the illusory bondage of cage vanished – the bird realized its real nature of Consciousness. Here the story is meant just to tell that the Ego must die for the person to become immortal. The doubts like the cage was real and hence bondage also is real should not be asked as this drishtaantha or example is not meant for showing the bondage to be unreal. Examples are meant to prove only some specific things and not the complete Reality.
Thus, only when the Ego which is an illusion and superimposition on the Reality of Consciousness is killed, the ultimate Reality of Consciousness is known. Until a person identifies himself with the Ego, he cannot attain Eternal Bliss because the Ego itself is limited and illusory. Such illusions can never give real Eternal Bliss as the illusory water in a mirage cannot quench the thirst of a person.
Realizing the ultimate Reality that “I am Consciousness, whatever is present is Consciousness alone & there is nothing but Consciousness alone” is the goal of human life which alone can confer Eternal Bliss and contentment to the person.
All sorrows and sufferings, all needs, all desires are caused out of ignorance of the perfect and content nature of oneself. Thus, these cannot be removed by any external means but only through knowledge, only throwing enquiry into one’s own nature, only through knowing that “I am the Self, I am Consciousness, I am complete, perfect and full”.
In Chandogya Upanishad, Sanatkumara says to Narada
Na alpe sukham asthi, yad bhooma tat sukham.
There is no happiness or Bliss in limited things or imperfect things. That which is POORNA or complete, alone has Eternal Bliss or happiness.
What is BHOOMA?
Yatra na anyat pashyathi, na anyat srunothi, na anyat vijaaneethi, sa bhooma
That is Bhooma, where nothing else is seen, nothing else is heard, and nothing else is known.
Bhooma is Consciousness the subject without any objects – it is the state where no external objects are present. It is the state which has been explained by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi as Consciousness or Heart when Ego and objects are destroyed.
This Bliss rejoiced when one’s own nature of pure Consciousness is known is experienced in a small quantity by everyone during Deep Sleep. In Deep Sleep, there is only Consciousness or I alone – no objects. Hence, there is pure Bliss which is rejoiced through the state of Deep Sleep and this enjoying is known after one wakes up and says “I slept happily”. But this experience is also accompanied by ignorance as one says “I did not know anything”. Thus awareness about one’s own real nature of Consciousness and Bliss was not there in Deep Sleep.
This merging into Consciousness during Deep Sleep is temporary and not permanent as there was no knowledge when one merged into the state. When awareness is brought or when a person realizes that “I am Consciousness and not Ego which gets identified with other objects”, the Ego gets destroyed and only pure Consciousness remains. At that time, Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self is realized which its own very nature is.
This realization of one’s own nature is what every person is trying to do knowingly or unknowingly through sensual pleasures and search of happiness in the external illusory world.
Once, this search becomes internal, the mind, the Ego and everything vanishes and the Self shines in its own without any other objects. Then, the real Bliss of the Self is rejoiced and experienced.
As the Katha Upanishad proclaims
Yam jnaatva muchyathe janthur amritatvam cha gacchathi
After knowing the Purusha or the Self, the person gets liberated and attains immortality.
Sri Sri Sankara mentions the same meaning of this sloka of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in Upadesa Sahasri
Aham ithi aatma dheerya cha mama ithi aatmeeya dheerapi
Artha shoonye yada yasya sa atmajno bhavet tadaa
When the “I” or Ahamkaara and MAMA or mine is destroyed in a person, that very moment the person becomes a knower of the Self. Knower of Brahman or Self becomes Brahman itself – here knower means realization that I am the Self and not normal knowing of external objects – knowing just means realizing that I am the Knower.
Idam Aham pada abhikyamanvaham
Ahami leenakepyalaya Sattayaa…..21
Idam – This (Self)
Aham pada abhikyam – which is indicated by the word Aham or I
Anu Aham – following the merger of the individual I and
Ahami Leenake api – when the total I also merges
Alaya sattaya – (shines) due to the indestructible nature of it (of the Self).
This pure Consciousness or Self which is indicated by the word “I”, following the merger of the individual “I” or jeeva and when the total I or Ishwara also merges – shines due to the indestructible nature of itself.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi introduces two Egos in this sloka and goes on to explain this in detail in the future slokas.
Vedanta speaks about two distinct terms – Ishwara and Jeeva.
The common notion among people is that the “I” is an individual “I” which is qualified by limited space of body and limited knowledge. This “I” is called Jeeva. Since an individual Jeeva is assumed, the world needs to have a creator who has the notion that “everything is Mine” and who is endowed with all-pervasiveness and all-knowing qualities. This total “I” who identifies himself as the ruler of the world is called Ishwara or in simple terms God.
Vedantic theory of creation tells that Ishwara is the reflection of Brahman in Maya. The Jeeva is the reflection of Brahman or Self in the intellect born out of ignorance or Avidya. The Ishwara creates different objects out of Maya for the enjoyment of Jeeva or the individual.
Thus, the individual “I” first has to merge into the total “I” which again merges into the ultimate Reality of Consciousness or Brahman or Self. The essence of both Ishwara and Jeeva is Consciousness alone. But this Consciousness when seemed to be limited by all-knowing nature is called Ishwara and when this Consciousness seems to be limited by qualities of limited-knowledge and body is called Jeeva.
Thus, this Jeeva has to merge into Ishwara – which then merges into the ultimate Reality of “I” or pure Consciousness.
One should not get confused with these various terms. The individual “I” is the individual Ego. The total “I” or Ishwara is the total Ego. When the total “I” or Total Ego merges into its source of Consciousness, only Consciousness remains.
This is the reason why Sri Sri Ravishankar says that make the local I – global I. This Ishwara then becomes the ruler of everything, he knows everything, he is the creator of the world, he is the protector of the world, he is the destroyer of the world – he is that in which the world is created, protected and destroyed. But here also, limitations due to Maya remain. These limitations are to be removed by realizing the essence of this total “I” which is pure Consciousness alone.
WE find that great Mahatmas proclaim that “I am the creator of this world; I am the one ruling the world” etc. We find Krishna himself explaining that “I gave this knowledge of the Self first to Sun God”. Here, Krishna mentions himself as Ishwara endowed with all-knowing and all-pervasive nature.
A person enquiring into the nature of Ishwara will understand that Ishwara is also an illusion in Brahman alone. The Jeeva is attached to a single body whereas Ishwara is attached to the total bodies. Jeeva is endowed with limited knowledge whereas Ishwara is endowed with complete knowledge (here knowledge only means external knowledge about the world). Thus, both these are illusions in the Reality of Consciousness alone.
Consciousness cannot have any limitations because it is pure and one without a second. Hence even if there is all-knowing quality – one should realize that this in itself is an illusion alone in Consciousness.
A seeker reaches a stage where he finds himself as the ruler of the world, he finds himself in one with Ishwara or God. This is the reason why the great Trailinga Swami was offered some land in which he could be the ruler by a king, but the saint replied telling that “this entire world is mine only, then why will I require a small land which I already have as the whole”.
An individual can realize the Self through knowing that everything is Mine only and that I am that from which all this world comes, all this world stays and all this world merges into. Thus, the individual jeeva or Ego finds itself as the total Ego or Ishwara and then realizes that there is nothing here but Consciousness alone. The process of how to merge into the Self is by enquiry which has been explained by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the previous slokas.
The experience of dream explains the theory that creation is from my mind alone. Dream world is created by the dreamer alone and the dream world objects are nothing but the dreamer alone. The dream world in itself is an illusion seen in the dreamer alone. Similarly this waking world is the creation of the waker alone (when the waker identifies himself with Ishwara). When the waker determines to see the world, the world exists. Without the waker, the world doesn’t exist. But even when the waking world is not there, the waker exists in the state of Deep Sleep. Thus, it is not tough to apprehend the truth that the world is not created by an external God but by the mind alone and this is realized when the individual ego becomes the total Ego.
Even though these different terms of Ishwara and Jeeva are put forth – one should not concentrate much on these words because these are only illusions seen in Consciousness or the Self or pure “I”. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says at the end of the sloka that when the individual and total Egos vanish, pure Consciousness alone remains – in its nature state of Bliss Eternal.
Illusions are in fact Reality alone perceived wrongly. The snake when perceived in the rope is rope alone but perceived wrongly. Therefore all illusions are the Reality alone. Hence, Ishwara and Jeeva are Consciousness alone seemingly appearing to be limited by different adjunctions. For a person who is endowed with discrimination, there cannot be any adjunctions in pure Consciousness, one without a second. When this Reality is known, all illusions vanish. There can never be perceived snake in the rope but still it is perceived – this perception is thus indescribable because in Reality there never is any snake present in the rope. Similarly there is no creation at all, there is no Ishwara and Jeeva but only pure Consciousness which is the essential nature of each person. This ultimate Reality is what is to be known – knowing which everything becomes known, knowing which a person becomes content, peaceful and Blissful. Thus, the ultimate Reality is Consciousness or Self alone which is of the nature of SAT (Existence), CHIT (Consciousness) and Ananda (Bliss) Kevala (Absolute). Each and every one is this Reality alone – this knowledge that I am THAT has been forgotten. The sruthi and various works of Mahatmas are all meant to make a person realize his own real nature of this Consciousness.
Since, a beginner can not understand or apprehend the ultimate Reality that there has been no creation but only Consciousness seeming to exist with a name and form, therefore creation and creator have been put forth by the Upanishads. The creator or Ishwara vanishes when duality vanishes. Ishwara vanishes the moment his creation vanishes, the moment the triads of knower, knowledge and object of knowledge vanishes. After that, there remains only pure Consciousness alone. Similarly Jeeva exists only when the body and the mind are present or thought to be present. The moment a person realizes that I am not the body, I am Consciousness, he realizes the ultimate Reality of Consciousness (one without a second) and that there never was any body or mind at all.
The way to realizing this ultimate Reality is enquiring into one’s own real nature of Self – the Ego or I when deprived of its likes and dislikes, its various qualities of desire, anger, attachment etc. becomes the Self or Consciousness alone. This is another path which can be followed by a person not capable of enquiring into his own real nature. When likes and dislikes are removed – the person sees oneness everywhere – there remains nothing to get attached to or averted or. Due to removal of likes and dislikes – the Ego perishes because Ego lives only on duality which lives on likes and dislikes. When the Ego perishes, the source or substratum of the illusion of Ego alone persists – which is Consciousness or Self alone.
Ultimately, whatever path a person follows – he reaches the final state where he realizes his own Eternal Reality of oneness with non-dual Consciousness which is variously named as Atman, Brahman, Paramatma, God etc. All these are nothing but Consciousness alone. Whatever is present, whatever was present and whatever will be present is all Brahman or Consciousness alone. And that Consciousness everyone already is. This knowledge alone removes all sorrows and sufferings which are illusions created out of ignorance of one’s own nature.
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says the Self is indestructible Existence. Sri Sri Sankara defines Real as that which doesn’t change. The only thing that doesn’t change is Consciousness or Self alone. Therefore, the only real thing which exists is the Self or Consciousness alone. If there is only Consciousness, then what sorrow, what delusion which is all born out of duality.
When a person realizes this ultimate Reality that “I am THAT”, all the illusions of world, Jeeva, Ishwara, sorrow, suffering, happiness, quest for knowledge, power, money, women etc. vanish and only pure Consciousness shines. This is the natural state of “I” – the “I” which without any break pulsates in each person as “I-exist, I-exist”. This natural state along with ignorance is what is experienced in Deep Sleep. If a person realizes that Eternal Bliss is rejoiced in Deep Sleep when there was ignorance also, he realizes that what would be the Eternal Bliss rejoiced when ignorance is not present – when this ultimate Reality of oneness with Consciousness is realized.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is thus in each and every person in this Jnaana Yoga asserts that YOU ARE CONSCIOUSNESS, ONE WITHOUT A SECOND – YOU ARE THAT. In the next sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi asserts this ultimate Reality through negation of the body, mind etc – the process of Neti Neti (Not this, Not this) mentioned in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Only this ultimate Reality that I am Consciousness, I am Brahman, I am the non-dual Self can get one rid of sorrow and suffering which are born out of ignorance. It is a big miss if we don’t attain this knowledge here in this world and now itself. Each moment we don’t make an attempt to realize this Reality becomes a big miss because all those moments we are living like MAD PEOPLE not knowing our own very nature of Consciousness and considering ourselves as the body or the mind!!!! Such people are termed by Upanishads as Moodaah or IDIOTS.
As Sankara mentions in Bhaja Govindam
Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam
Govindam Bhaja Moodamathe
Sampraapthe sannihithe kaale
Nahi nahi rakshathi dukrinkarane
O FOOL!!! Seek the Self. Death or your time in this human birth is nearing and no logic, dialetics or grammar will help you at that time. Hence don’t waste time and seek the Self now itself.
Kena Upanishad says
Iha ched vedit atha satyam asthi
Ched ihaavedin mahathee vinasthih
If the Self is known here, then it is Truth and valuable – if not known here, it will be a big loss.
Hence, let us devote at least some time daily to recollect this ultimate Reality that “I am Consciousness, one without a second and distinct from the body and mind. Whatever is present is Consciousness alone. The world and its objects are illusions seen in Consciousness alone. And hence I will get happy or sad over various objects and people in this illusory world”. If we can’t even spend at least 5 minutes daily for this, this Reality will not be realized and the person will be running hitherto and thitherto going to Mahatmas or temples for removal of sorrow and sufferings (without knowing that these are for the body and mind and not for the Self. And hence they are illusions alone). And such a person cannot be helped even by the illusory Brahma or Vishnu or Siva or by any great Avataar even if he is Sri Sri Sankara or Srimad Ramanuja or Sriman Madhva.
Hence, let us try to realize this ultimate Reality as early as possible and rejoice in the Eternal Bliss of the Self.
Vigrahendriya praana dheetamah
Naham eka sat tad jadam hi asat…..22
Aham – I of the nature of pure Consciousness (am)
Eka sat – one and only Existence or Reality.
Vigraha indriya praana dhee tamah – the bodies, sense organs, vital force, intellect and ignorance
Na – not me as
Tad jadam – they are insentient
Hi – and hence
Asat – non-existent
I am the one and only Existence or Reality (the only thing really existing is I alone). The three bodies of gross, subtle and causal are not me as they are insentient and hence non-existent.
This sloka’s meaning is very deep and in this sloka and the next, we can find the essence of Upanishads.
Vedanta splits the experience field of each person into two distinct entities. One is the Drik or the Seer and the other is Drishya or the Seen. These two can be translation into English as the Subject and Object.
The Consciousness or “I” is the Subject of all objects which might be the body, the various sense objects in the world, the sense organs, the mind or the intellect. All these are objects alone for the Subject of Consciousness or “I”.
All these objects require a subject for their existence. They cannot exist of their own. They require “I” for their existence & hence they are dependent on “I” for their existence. That which exists of its own is called a sentient thing. That which depends on another object for its existence is called insentient (that which cannot experience its own existence). We can very well understand here that “I” or the Subject alone is sentient and the objects are all insentient.
A little investigation into Subject and the objects will show that objects are in fact non-existent. The objects are insentient and hence they are mere appearances or illusions in the Subject (seen due to the sentience of the Subject). This is very well known through the dream experience. The objects in dream are all insentient which seem to be sentient because of the sentience of the dreamer. Therefore, we say that the dream objects are unreal and illusions in the dreamer or the Subject alone.
Similarly the various external objects seem to be sentient because of the sentience of the Seer or Consciousness. If Consciousness is removed or Consciousness denies accepting the objects, the objects cease to exist. This only shows that the objects are mere illusions which no existence at all – but seemingly existing for the present time because of the sentience of Consciousness. If Consciousness rejects those objects through the mind, the objects will vanish off. This is what is experienced in Deep Sleep where Consciousness is present but the external objects are absent and therefore non-existent.
Hence, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says the Upanishadic truth that whatever is insentient is non-existent – whatever is JADAM or insentient is an illusion seen in the Reality or the sentient thing of Consciousness. These insentient objects are just names and forms of Consciousness. Names and forms never create any new object but they are mere illusions seen in the Reality of Consciousness. As gold chain, gold necklace and gold ring are GOLD alone – similarly the world and its objects which are insentient are mere names and forms of Consciousness. Only fools will consider gold chain, gold necklace and gold ring as different from each other but the intelligent goldsmith knows them to be GOLD alone. Similarly the ignorant fool alone considers this world of duality to be a Reality but the intelligent person (endowed with the truth of the Reality through study of scriptures) will consider the duality as only names and forms of Consciousness and hence unreal.
Therefore, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says all the objects ranging from the body, the sense organs, mind, intellect, ignorance are all insentient and hence unreal or non-existent. Since I am of the nature of Existence (as each moment the pulsation occurs that “I-exist, I-exist”), I am not the body and the various insentient objects. Hence I am of the nature of Existence or I am the ultimate Reality.
Let us now try to analyze the various insentient objects mentioned by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka.
Body – A person or the individual Jeeva has three bodies. The normal body that is present in the waking state is called the Gross body or Sthula Sareera. The body that we have during dream is a different body formed out of thoughts and vasanas which is called Subtle body or Sukshma Sareera. The body which is of the nature of ignorance and which the Jeeva has during Deep Sleep state is called Kaarana Sareera or Causal body. This is called causal body as it is of the nature of ignorance and this ignorance is the cause for the other two bodies and bondage, suffering. I cannot be the three bodies. These bodies are insentient as after a particular time, the gross body is present but nobody wants to go near it & it becomes a mere dead corpse. Therefore, I am something different from the body as the body is insentient but I am sentient. Also, these three bodies keep on changing but “I” remain the same and am the constant changeless Consciousness. They are a group of people who are mentioned in the history called Charvakaas who considered the body as the Self or I. Another set of charvakaas used to consider the vital force as the Self and yet another set of charvakaas used to consider the sense organs as the Self or I. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is here refuting the common notion that “I am the body” as the body is insentient whereas I am sentient. We all are now partial Charvakaas considering “I” as the body and nourishing the body, protecting it very well and forgetting that the body is only an insentient object used by the Subject or the real “I” which is the Self or Consciousness.
Sense organs – there are five organs of perception and five organs of action to the individual Jeeva. These are instruments which help the Self or Consciousness or “I” to perceive objects and to do various actions. The five organs of perception are Eyes (help in sight), Ears (hearing), Nose (smell), tongue (taste) and skin (touch). The five organs of action are hands, legs, speech, organ of excretion and organ of reproduction.
Today I see the computer screen in front of me. Tomorrow, I come and touch the computer screen. Yesterday the organ used was eyes and today it is skin. This very well shows that the same I that saw the screen today touched it. Hence, I cannot be the sense organs. This is how the Nyaya Saastra and logicians prove that the Self is not the sense organs. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that the sense organs are also insentient. This is very well proved through the experience of Deep Sleep where there are no sense organs but only “I”. Hence the sense organs are not Me.
Vital force – vital force is termed as Prana in Vedanta. Prana is further divided into 5 according to the various actions performed. They are Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyaana. These five help in preserving the vital force in the body and making the body live. Hence, this very well shows that there must be something which controls this prana – that which helps to do pranayama. That is “I” or Consciousness. Pranayama would not be used if I were Prana. Also it is very well known that the vital force is of the nature of movement or energy whereas “I” am always constant and without changes. Therefore I am not the Prana also.
Intellect – Dheeh or Intellect is of the nature of determinations. When there are doubts, the intellect is the internal equipment which determines what is right and what is wrong. I cannot be the intellect because I am that which is determining. The intellect is just equipment for determination – hence there must be a subject which determines the intellect which I am. This also means that the intellect is an object and hence insentient (all objects are insentient and the Subject alone is sentient and therefore really existent).
Ignorance – the Mimasakaas or the people following the ritualistic portion of Vedas say the Self is of the nature of ignorance as experienced in Deep Sleep. This is not true because ignorance in itself presumes a person who is ignorant or who is experiencing ignorance. This Subject I am and not the object of ignorance. I am limited by ignorance during Deep Sleep and hence I don’t feel the happiness during that state. This doesn’t mean I am ignorance or ignorance is my nature because if Ignorance is my nature then nothing can be known but I know objects. Therefore Ignorance is also an object for the Self or Consciousness which I am.
Thereby Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi goes from gross level of body to the subtlemost level of intellect and ignorance & asserts that these are not Me, as I am of the nature of Existence and sentience.
Therefore, we can say that the Seer or the Subject alone I am and this Subject alone is real – the objects are illusions seen in the Subject and hence unreal. This Subject is of the nature of Existence.
Now one may have the doubt, I have a Subject, you have another Subject & similarly aren’t there innumerable Subjects?
No, says Vedanta. The very nature of Subject is that it gives light to all objects. If there are two Subjects, then those two will become objects of each other & the Subject and Object cannot be the same object as light and darkness cannot remain in one place.
There can never be space in pot separate to the space of the other pot since the space inside and outside the pot is the same.
Therefore there is one Subject alone (which Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi points out in this sloka). Our experience also proves this. The Subject of each person is Consciousness alone – this
Consciousness is the essence of everyone and therefore in essence the various sentient Selfs or Jeevas are the same but only the limitations or adjunctions of body and mind are different. Because of these various adjunctions, the essence or “I” seem to be different. But once “I” is realized, a person realizes that the other Selfs which seemed to exist are nothing but Me alone. Hence Vedanta says that there is One Consciousness alone which is my essential nature.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi thus said in this sloka that I am Existence in nature. Am I Consciousness also in nature & how do objects seem to exist even though they are all insentient? These doubts are being answered in the next sloka by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
Satva bhaasikaa chit kvavetharaa
Sattayaa hi chit chittayaa hi aham…..23
Satva Bhaasikaa – To illumine Existence or Sat,
Kvava ithara – where is another thing
Chit – (than) Consciousness? (There is not any other thing)
Hi – Because
Sattayaa chit – Existence is Consciousness,
Hi - and
Chittayaa aham – I am Consciousness.
Where is there any other thing to illumine Existence apart from Consciousness (not there is not any other thing). Because Existence is Consciousness and I am Consciousness.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here is pointing out the two characteristics of the Self or “I” which are not a quality like cowness or potness but these are the very nature of the Self. These two lakshanaas of the Self are Sat and Chit (Existence and Consciousness).
Let us analyze the perception of a pot by a person.
The Consciousness which is the essential nature of a person falls on the object which is pot here and illumines the pot. Thus, the pot gets its existence due to the Consciousness of the person. This is the case with external objects. If Consciousness denies accepting the pot, the pot ceases to exist & has no existence at all. This is the reason why at some times, we walk in the road but forget to notice our friend coming the opposite way. It is only when the friend stops us and says HELLO, we see him and he exists for us. Thus, it is Consciousness that illumines Existence.
Let us analyze our own very nature of Self which is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.
That object is existent which has the independent experience of “I-exist, I exist”. This experience is possible only when the object is Conscious of its own existence. Therefore, Consciousness and Existence are not different things but they are the very nature of the Self or “I”. I exist because I am conscious of my existence. I am conscious because I exist. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says here that Consciousness is that which illumines its own existence as well as the existence of other objects.
The great Upanishadic verse found in Mundaka, Katha and Svetashwatara Upanishad says
Na tatra sooryo bhaathi na Chandra taarakam na ima vidhyutho bhaanthi kutoyam agnih
Tameva bhaantham anubhaathi sarvam tasya bhaasa sarvam idam vibhaathi
The Sun doesn’t shine there (in the Self), neither does the moon or the stars. There the lightning also doesn’t shine, then how can Fire shine? It’s own shineness others follow (meaning that it’s illuminations others take from it) and it shining others shine.
This is what is mentioned by Gita in Chapter 15
Na tad bhaasathe sooryo na sashaanko na paavakah
Yad gatva na nivarthanthe tad dhaamah paramam mama
There the sun doesn’t shine, neither does the moon nor the fire. Reaching where there is no return, that is my Eternal abode.
Yadaaditya gatham tejo jagad bhaasathe akhilam
Yat chandramasi yat cha agnau tat tejo viddhi maamakam
That which is shining in Sun, that which makes the moon shine & the Fire shine – know that illumination to be MINE.
Wherever Krishna mentions “I” or “ME”, it means Brahman or the Self and not the physical form of Krishna or chaturbhuja Vishnu. These are all names and forms which are prone to birth and death which happened to Sri Krishna also. This Eternal rule of anything with a name and form subject to birth and death is applicable even to Mahavishnu or any other God. The only being devoid of birth and death is the Self or Brahman.
Krishna himself mentions in Gita
Avajaananthi maam moodaah manusheem tanum asritham
Param bhaavam ajaananthah mama bhoota mahesvaram
Those are FOOLS who consider me as being embodied (either as Krishna or as Mahavishnu). They don’t realize my Eternal form of the Lord of the senses and without birth (which is the Self or Brahman alone). Thus wherever Krishna mentions as “I” or “ME”, it is not either Krishna or Vishnu but Brahman or the Self alone.
These are very clear examples that Krishna says that Consciousness is what makes objects exist – objects doesn’t exist apart from Consciousness. The world and its objects have no existence devoid of Consciousness. It is Consciousness or “I” which makes objects visible and existent. The moment a person becomes unconscious, the world ceases to exist. One cannot say here that “The world is present but it is not perceived – absence or non-perception doesn’t mean non-existent”. Such doubts are raised by ignorants alone. That which is not perceived is non-existent alone. If this is not agreed, then the world becomes full of gandhaaraas and kinnaraas and one has to agree that there are many elephants sitting next to my computer even though I don’t perceive it. There are various instruments of knowledge through which objects can be known as really existent or not. None of these proofs are valid without the Subject of Consciousness. These proofs of perception, inferences etc. depend only on Consciousness.
It is good to remember that Consciousness is the only thing which is independent and hence really existing. All other things depend on Consciousness for its existence and hence are an illusion in Consciousness alone (which seem to appear and then vanish as if they were not at all present). The body that we are proud of was not present yesterday; it seems to be present today & disappears tomorrow. Doesn’t this show that the body is only an illusion in Consciousness? It only seems to exist temporarily due to ignorance about the Reality of Brahman or Consciousness or the Self.
Thus, any object is only Consciousness and it is Consciousness which is shining through the various different and dual objects in the world. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi means by the first line of this sloka that “What indeed can illumine Existence other than Consciousness”. This question itself has the answer in it that there cannot be anything apart from Consciousness which can illumine or illumines Existence. Therefore Consciousness is the ultimate Reality and everything else is only an illusion in Consciousness.
As a person exists as he is conscious of his existence – therefore Existence and Consciousness are not two separate qualities but they are inter related to each other. That which really exists has Consciousness or rather that which really exists is Consciousness alone. That which is Conscious of itself is Existent. Both these qualities are the very nature of “I” – the “I” which never ceases to exist even if Brahma, Vishnu and Siva are destroyed – even if Tsunami hits the Earth – even if one is at the death bed – even if one is in the state of Waking, Dream or Deep Sleep. Thus the Self which is our own very nature is Consciousness and Existence.
That’s why Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says that Existence is Consciousness and Consciousness I am – meaning I am Existent also. I am not the soonya or non-existant voidness propounded by the Madhyamaka Buddhists. Even if there is a state of voidness – that state can be accepted only if void exists & this will make void lose its status of voidness. And also voidness requires a Subject who sees the voidness – and this Subject is Consciousness which will make void lose its status of voidness. Thus, this Consciousness is the very nature of everyone.
We all are Consciousness. This Consciousness is not of the nature of sorrow but its nature is Eternal happiness or Bliss. This is the Bliss which we enjoy in the Deep Sleep due to removal of dual perception. But in that state, there is a veil of ignorance which causes one not to be aware of the experience during that state. But when one realizes his own very nature of Consciousness, all sorrows vanish and Bliss alone remains. This Consciousness is now not known and “I” now am the Ego which gets identified with various non-existent and illusory objects. This identification or superimposition is what causes differences and dualities. These dualities lead to likes and dislikes. These in turn lead to attachment and aversion which in turn lead to sorrow and happiness. Thus, the very root cause of sorrow and suffering is the superimposition which is caused due to ignorance about one’s own very nature of Consciousness or pure and unattached “I”. The moment a person realizes this Eternal and ultimate Reality that “I am Consciousness”, all sorrows and sufferings which are illusory in nature vanish even as the moment the Reality of rope is known, the illusory snake which was seen in the rope vanishes.
Then, there remains only Eternal and pure Bliss inherent in the Self or Consciousness.
As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi stresses in this sloka – there is only Consciousness here. This Reality that whatever is seen is Consciousness alone and not different and dual objects dawns only when a person realizes his real nature of Consciousness. As the dream world is nothing but the dreamer alone, similarly the waking world is nothing but Consciousness alone.
Kaivalya Upanishad says
Mayi eva sakalam jaatham mayi sarvam pratishtitham
Mayi sarvam layam yaathi tad brahma advayam asmi aham
Everything is created from me, everything is supported or exists in me, everything gets destroyed into me – that Brahman of the nature of non-duality (one without a second) that I am.
That which is created from a thing, is present in a thing and gets destroyed into the thing cannot be different from the thing. Brahman or Consciousness is one without a second (there are not two Consciousness as in that case both would become Subjects and Objects which cannot possible be present in a single object). In such a Brahman or Consciousness which is devoid of any internal parts – there cannot be any creation or object in it – thus the creation is only a name and form of Brahman which are merely illusions created in the Reality and perceived due to ignorance.
What is the cause of Ignorance and who has this ignorance (locus of ignorance)?
Ignorance has no cause at all – ignorance is neither real nor unreal. Any illusion can never have any cause. If it is said that the illusory snake is caused from the real rope, it is absurd as the real rope has never been turned or converted to the snake which is only an illusion. Thus any illusion cannot have any cause but only a substratum. This substratum is the real rope. Similarly the illusory world caused due to illusory ignorance doesn’t have any locus or cause. There can never be any answer to the question who had ignorance which caused the world – this question itself is absurd as the ignorance has no Reality but is only an illusion in Consciousness. Thus, Consciousness is the substratum of the illusory ignorance and not the cause of the illusory ignorance (Consciousness or Brahman is said to be the cause of the world only to pacify the initial seeker and his enquiries about this world & since he is not suitable at the moment to reveal the ultimate Reality that no world has been created).
Thus, the locus of ignorance or rather substratum of illusory ignorance is Brahman or Consciousness alone (this answer is valid only from the view point of the ignorant seeker). Once the Reality of Consciousness is realized, that very moment ignorance ceases to exist & there is nothing but the Self alone – one without a second.
This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi stresses in this sloka that “I am of the nature of Existence and Consciousness”. I am not the individual jeeva who thinks himself bonded and suffering – but I am the Self or Brahman of the nature of infinite Bliss. There is nothing different from Me – whatever is present is only Consciousness or “I”.
A seeker will have a doubt here that if there is only Consciousness, then what is the difference between ME and Ishwara. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi answers this in the next two slokas. If the “I” or “ME” is considered as the individual and illusory Ego – then it is different from the illusory Ishwara as Jeeva is Alpa Jnaani whereas Ishwara is Sarva Jnaani. But the essence of both Jeeva and Ishwara is Consciousness or Existence. Thus, both are one and the same and it is ignorance about one’s own nature which causes this question to arise. (Again the question of locus of ignorance is absurd here because there never was any ignorance, there never is and there never will be. It is only an illusion which makes ignorance to be present. Somehow, ignorance is being felt now – any illusion cannot be explained in any ways as to how it came about. The only thing that can be done in case of illusions is to find out the substratum for them. Thus, when the substratum for the illusory ignorance is found out as the Self or Consciousness, ignorance ceases to exist and only pure Bliss remains).
Isha Jeevayoh Vesha Dhee bhidaah
Sat Svabhaavatah Vasthu Kevalam…..24
Isha Jeevayoh – Between Jeeva and Ishwarah
Vesha Dhee Bhidhaa – there is difference only with respect to body and intellect (gross and subtle body).
Sat Svabhaavatah – But by their true nature (essential nature)
Vasthu Kevalam – Absolute Reality alone is.
Between Jeeva (the individual) and Ishwara (the Lord or creator), there is difference only with respect to body and intellect (gross and subtle body). By their true and essential nature, Absolute Reality alone is (meaning by their essence both are Consciousness alone).
Jeeva and Ishwara are two very important terms used in Vedanta and which we all are very familiar with also. These two terms requires a little deep analysis to know what these terms mean.
These two terms are valid only from the perspective of the ignorant and initial seeker. For the realized Self, there is nothing but Brahman alone. This is the ultimate Reality that there is nothing but Brahman or Consciousness alone. The world is a mere illusion seen in Brahman or Consciousness. As all illusions are the Reality alone, similarly the world full of names and forms are Brahman alone (wrongly perceived as the world).
Let’s first analyze Brahman and the world.
Drik Drishya Viveka and Saraswathi Rahasya Upanishad says
Asthi Bhaathi Priyam roopam Naamam cha ithi amsa Panchakam
Adhya trayam brahma ropam jagad roopah tatho dvayam
Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Name and Form – these are the five characteristics of any object. The first three are the nature of Brahman and the rest two are the nature of World.
The world is only name and form of Brahman
Sristhir naama brahma roope sachidananda vasthuni
Abdau Phenaadivat sarva naama ropa prasaarana
That is called Creation where names and forms are created in Brahman of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss even as foams and bubbles are created in ocean.
The foams, bubbles, waves are not different from the ocean – they are all the same water itself in essence. Thus, they might seem to be different but essentially they are one and the same only. Similarly the world is only name and form of Brahman and hence not different from Brahman. Due to ignorance of the essential reality of the world, the world seems to be different from Brahman or Consciousness. But essentially world is Brahman only. When the names and forms which are only mere illusions that seem to be present now, were not present in the past & will vanish in the future are removed – only pure Consciousness remains. This is the Reality of the world.
Knowing this concept of world as name and form (which is only an illusion and hence unreal) of Brahman will help us in understanding the concepts of Jeeva and Ishwara.
Ishwara is endowed with the qualities of Sarvajnatvam (all-knowing) and Sarvavyaapakatvam (all-pervasive)
Jeeva is endowed with the qualities of Alpajnaatvam and Alpavyaapakatvam (limited-knowing and limited pervasiveness)
Ishwara is considered as the reflection of Brahman in Maya – whereas Jeeva is the reflection of Brahman in Avidya. Maya is the totality whereas Avidya is the individuality. Therefore, the totality of Jeeva leads one to Ishwara.
Jeeva can be translated into Ego or Ahamkaara and is Brahman limited by a single body and mind. Ishwara is Brahman limited by the qualities of total-mind and total-body. Ishwara is the ruler or controller of the total number of Jeevas.
There are as many Jeevas as the number of adjunctions of body and mind. But there is only one Ishwara who is the controller of all these Jeevas.
Thereby, Jeeva is in bondage of Maya and its power whereas Ishwara is the controller of Maya who through his own Maya Shakthi creates the world from himself and creates the various Jeevas. Thus, Ishwara is ever-liberated and out of the control of Maya – but still he is not the ultimate Reality of Brahman (as he is endowed with qualities of creation and controller of Maya).
Jeeva finds himself having limited knowledge because of the limitation of body, mind and intellect. As we all know, knowledge is based on intellect alone. Since Jeeva has a limited intellect, thereby he knows little only. Also as he has a limited body, he is not all-pervasive. But once the Jeeva realizes his own oneness with Ishwara – thereby the limitations of body and intellect are broken. When this happens, Jeeva loses his status of Ego (as identification with the mind and body are called Ego) and thus he merges into his source of Self or Consciousness or Brahman. When the limitations are increased and the Jeeva identifies himself with the totality of bodies and minds, he becomes one with Ishwara and thereby he gets all-knowing and all-pervasive qualities of Ishwara. This is how great Mahatmas propound all the truth and knowledge in the world even though they are seen to be limited to a single body. Many acharyas ranging from Sankara, Ramanuja and others have proclaimed the Reality of the world like Ishwara himself as they increased their limitations and merged into one with Ishwara – the totality of all individuality.
But, when the status of totality also vanishes into its source of Brahman, there remains nothing but pure Consciousness. There nothing remains to be known apart from the knower (as there is no dual object to be known), nothing remains to be pervaded as pervasiveness is there only if there are two things). This is the ultimate and essential nature of Ishwara – Consciousness, Brahman or Atman.
When we now analyze into the essential nature of Jeeva and Ishwara – we find that the difference is not in the essential nature of both which is Consciousness alone, but the difference lies in the adjunctions which are the body and the mind.
There are two adjunctions present for Jeeva and Ishwara which Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says here as Vesha and dhee – these are the Gross body and Subtle body. The Gross body consists of the physical body consisting of the Saptha Dhathus of Skin, Flesh, Marrow, Bone, Blood, Fat and Semen and made up of the five gross elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. The subtle body consists of the 17 parts of five sense organs of action, five sense organs of perception, five vital forces (Pancha Prana – Prana, Apana, Vyana, Samana, Udana), the mind and the intellect (in some places subtle body is said to contain 19 parts which includes the 17 mentioned above and Ego and Chitta or memory).
The Individual Jeeva is endowed with only a single Gross and Subtle body whereas the Ishwara has all the individual Gross and Subtle bodies (all put together).
It has to be remembered that there is one and only one Reality which is Consciousness or the Self. This Consciousness when limited by various adjuncts seems to get limited by the adjunctions but in Reality it is the same Consciousness alone, unaffected by the adjunctions. Space seems to be limited by a pot and it seems to be different from pot-space but the pot-space is same as infinite space only. Similarly the essence of Jeeva and Ishwara are Consciousness alone.
They seem to be different due to the different adjunctions and due to the reflection of Brahman in different objects.
But in essential nature, both Ishwara and Jeeva are Brahman or Consciousness alone. Ishwara and Jeeva are only illusions created due to the illusory adjunctions of body, mind and intellect. Any illusion is the Reality alone perceived wrongly. When the Reality is known, the illusion vanishes and the person realizes that there never was any illusion in the Reality.
One may now ask “How can I, the Jeeva, be same as Ishwara, the creator?”.
Yes, the Jeeva is one with Ishwara. Doesn’t the Jeeva create a world in the dream state? So, doesn’t Jeeva become a creator in one of the three states of Waking, Dream and Deep Sleep.
Kaivalya Upanishad speaks about Jeeva and its essential nature also
Puratraye kreedathi yah cha jeevah tatah tu jaatam sakalam vichitram
Aadhaaram aanandam akhanda bodham yasmin layam yaathi puratrayam cha
That Jeeva who is the individual and who plays in the three states (meaning who is the enjoyer of the three states of waking, dream and Deep Sleep) is the creator of all the objects and things in these three states. The substratum or essence of the Jeeva (Aadharam means substratum) is infinite and Blissful Consciousness (Bodham means Consciousness) in whom the three states (which are termed as puras or towns or houses as the Jeeva enters each house and yet remains unattached to them really) and the Jeeva or individual merge.
Here Jeeva is created from the Consciousness, has the nature of Consciousness and merges into Consciousness. This only means that Jeeva is an illusion in Consciousness. Thus, here Jeeva is termed the creator of the worlds in waking and dream state.
Thus, Jeeva and Ishwara seem to be different based on the limitations (which doesn’t affect the essential nature of both of them) of body and mind.
Swami Tejomayananda in his commentary on Upadesa Saram gives the example of ocean and waves to explain Jeeva and Ishwara. In essence ocean and waves are water only. Ocean is total of all the waves. The ocean is Ishwara, the waves are Jeeva. When the Jeeva lose their individuality, they become total and merge into Ishwara as waves merge into the ocean. And the essence of both Jeeva and Ishwara is water alone which is Brahman.
Therefore, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi asserts in this sloka that there is only empirical or relative difference between Jeeva and Ishwara based on the adjunction of body and mind. There is no Absolute difference between both as both are Consciousness or Brahman or Self in essence.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in the next sloka mentions how a person can realize the Self and once again asserts that the difference between the individual and total is only relative and not Absolute.
Just to mention here, various Advaitic post-Sri Sri Sankara interpret Jeeva and Ishwara based on Sruthi statements. There are mainly two descriptions of Ishwara and Jeeva mentioned by two great post-Sri Sri Sankara acharyas (which form two post-Sankara schools of Advaita). Vachaspathi Mishra who wrote the famous Bhamathi commentary to Sri Sri Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Sareerika Mimamsa Bhashya says that the Ishwara is Brahman limited by Maya and Jeeva is Brahman limited by the intellect. This theory of Jeeva which is Brahman limited by intellect is termed as Avachcheda vaada (Avachheda means limitation).
Prakasaatman Yathi who wrote the famous Panchapaadika Vivarana (a gloss to the commentary of Padmapada called Panchapadika on Sri Sri Sankara’s commentary to the first four sutras of Brahma Sutra) says that Ishwara is Brahman reflected in Maya whereas Jeeva is Brahman reflected in the intellect. Thus, Jeeva becomes the Kartha and Bhokta but that Brahman which remains as the Sakshi or witness to these activities and which is object that is reflection in the mind and the reflection becomes Jeeva – this Sakshi is termed as Kutastha (that which remains like the anvil or Kuta meaning changless). The Sakshi or Kutastha is related to Brahman by the Avachheda Vaada (limitation theory). When the Jeeva vanishes, Kutastha realizes his own oneness with Brahman. The example for this is: Brahman is the infinite space, Kutastha is the pot-space and Jeeva is the pot-space reflected in water in the pot. When the pot is destroyed, pot-space becomes one with Brahman – in Reality the pot-space and infinite-space are both same but seem to be different due to the adjunction of pot). Jeeva is only the reflection which vanishes when the mind where it is reflected is removed or destroyed through destruction of thoughts.
Thus, analyzing these above two theories – both are very much similar and a person should not concentrate on these things in detail as these will only lead to problem and confusions which will lead one to not knowing the Reality or essence of both.
One needs to realize that whether Jeeva is limited, still the Jeeva is Brahman alone in nature. If Jeeva is reflection, still the reflection has no Reality apart from the object of reflection, Brahman. Therefore, in both these theories the essence of both Jeeva and Ishwara is Consciousness alone. Both these theories say that when body and mind are destroyed, the essential nature of non-dual Brahman is realized.
Thus, Hastamalaka (one of the four disciples of Sankara) says in Hastamalakeeyam
Mukhaabhasako darpane drishyamaanah
Mukhatvaat prithaktvena naivaasthi vasthu
Chidaabhasakho dheeshu jeevopi tadvat
Sa Nityopalabdhi svarupohamatma
As the reflection of one’s face in a mirror has no existence apart from the face, similarly the Jeeva which is reflection of Brahman in intellect has no separate existence apart from Brahman – that ever-present Brahman or Consciousness I am.
Here one needs to concentrate on the part where Hastamalaka says that the reflection has no existence apart from the object (similarly the limited object doesn’t have any existence apart from the real unlimited object).
Thus, both the theories of limitation and reflection are one and the same (with minor difference at the empirical level) and both tell that the essential and Absolute Reality of Jeeva and Ishwara is Consciousness or Brahman alone.
The confusion of whether Jeeva is Prathibimbitha (reflected) or Avachheda (limited) continued for sometime after Sankara (Sankara never spent time on this issue as it was immaterial whether the illusory Jeeva is reflection or limitation because nothing is to be achieved by knowing the illusory Jeeva who the real “I” is not. Hence he proclaimed both these theories at different works and stressed that YOU ARE CONSCIOUSNESS and hence Jeeva is Brahman alone whether it be reflection or limitation) until Appayya Dikshitar explained both these theories in his Siddhantha Lesha Sangraha where he mentions that both are almost same and there is no fight between both theories where only the approach to the Reality is different & not the Reality. Dikshitar had to mention this because the rival schools of Vedanta started criticizing these various theories and differences in the very same Sri Sri Sankara’s works. They also started telling that Sri Sri Sankara’s theory is absurd and Sri Sri Sankara never bothered to remove the absurdities in his system.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi thus in this sloka and the next mentions the ultimate Reality that Ishwara and Jeeva are not separate entities but they are essentially the same – they seem different only for the ignorant and for the realized, there is no difference but only the non-dual Self.
Vesha haanatah svaatma darshanam
Isha Darshanam Svaatmaroopatah…..25
Vesha Haanatah – when the limitations or adjuncts of gross and subtle bodies are removed,
Sva atma Darshanam – that is one’s own vision (of the Self).
Isha Darshanam – This is vision of God
Sva atma roopatah – as the Self.
When the limitations or adjuncts of body and mind are removed, that is one’s own vision of the Self. This itself is vision of God as one’s own Self.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi here says that when the limitations are removed, the Jeevatma which seems to be limited by the body and mind & which seems to be in bondage realizes its own real nature of Self or pure Consciousness. This Consciousness or vision of the Consciousness is vision of God (whose essence is Consciousness).
One should remember that what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi and Vedanta wants to convey when it says that there is no real difference between Ishwara and Jeeva is that there is only one Consciousness which is Absolute. It has no change, no qualifications, no limitations, no reflections because it is one without a second. There is nothing different from Consciousness so that it is limited or gets reflected. Therefore, there is really no difference between God and the individual and hence the difference is only an illusion created due to ignorance.
The moment a person whose real nature is Consciousness identifies himself with a body and mind, he seems to be converted or changed to a Jeeva. He thus considers himself as the doer of actions and enjoyer of actions. Due to the limitations, he finds himself as a mere individual with little-knowledge and not capable of attaining or realizing the Self (unless the grace of God is present). These thoughts are all illusions created because of the ignorance of one’s own nature of Consciousness. The moment a person realizes that I am not the individual, but I am pure Consciousness, one without a second, of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute – that very moment the illusory jeeva vanishes as limitations are broken off.
This only shows that the illusions of limitations are not real but only mere appearances in the Reality of Consciousness. Even in usage of “I am the body, I am stout, I am thin”, the “I” remains the same without getting attached to the limitations of body, stoutness, thinness etc. This only shows that “I” am different from them and it is very well known that all these things dependent on “I” or Consciousness for their existence. If Consciousness is not present, then these cease to exist. But even when these are not present in Deep Sleep state, Consciousness is present. This clearly shows that these are dependent on Consciousness and are not real but mere illusions in the Consciousness.
Thus, when a person removes these illusions of limitations, what remains behind is the pure Consciousness – without any limitations. At that time, “I” remains without any qualifications of body, stoutness, thinness etc. This is the real state of “I” – without any limitations, without any superimpositions and hence Blissful state of the Self. This natural state alone is capable of giving Eternal Bliss to the seeker. This is what naturally happens in Deep Sleep where all limitations are removed and the Self remains in its natural state of Consciousness. Therefore in Deep Sleep, Eternal Bliss is rejoiced and hence when one wakes up, he says “I slept well”. But in that state, there was ignorance in the form of unawareness of the Bliss as he says “I did not know anything”. This ignorance causes the two states of waking and dream to be created and the Consciousness seems to become the Jeeva and suffers like anything.
The scriptures too proclaim that Ishwara and Jeeva are essentially the same only. These are indicated by the Mahavakyas used in the various Vedas.
The Rig Veda tells the Mahavakya or PRAJNAANAM BRAHMAA or Consciousness is Brahman (here the jeeva can never be equal with Ishwara or Brahman because jeeva has limitations in its mind. Hence what is meant by Consciousness is pure Consciousness or the Self and not Jeeva the Ego).
The Yajur Veda tells AHAM BRAHMAA ASMI – I am Brahman (here also the “I” cannot be the Jeeva as jeeva seems to be in bondage due to limitations which has its cause in ignorance. Therefore the “I” here mentioned is the essence of Jeeva – the Reality of Jeeva which is Consciousness without any attachments, identifications and limitations).
The Sama Veda tells TAT TVAM ASI – THAT THOU ART (the Guru tells the disciple that YOU ARE BRAHMAN, you are not the limited jeeva that you think yourself to be, you are not different from Ishwara or God because both these are mere illusions in the Reality of Consciousness which is the essence of both Jeeva and Ishwara. Therefore that Consciousness YOU ARE ALREADY). It is due to ignorance that the difference seems to be present. When this ignorance veil is removed, the Self shines as Consciousness and as “I-exist, I-exist”.
The Atharva Veda tells AYAM ATMA BRAHMAA – This Self is verily Brahman only.
These four statements are not statements prescribing any action but these are mere informative statement which tells fact about one’s own Reality.
Krishna mentions again and again in Gita that Ishwara resides in the heart of people.
Ishwarah Sarva Bhootanaam Hridheshe Arjuna Thisthathi
God resides in the heart of all beings
Ye Bhajanthi tu maam bhakthya mayi te teshu cha api aham
Those who worship me with devotion (knowing me as the Self and essence of all beings), they reside in Me and I reside in them.
And Krishna means Paramatma or Brahman when saying the word “I” or “Mine” and not the mere form of Krishna.
The Lord cannot put it more clearly that that all beings reside in ME and I reside in all beings – this only means that everything is one thing alone. The ultimate Reality of oneness of Jeeva and Ishwara cannot be put much clearer than this.
This is what the Sruthi (Upanishads) and Smrithi (Gita) has to say about the oneness of both Ishwara and Jeeva. All logic also proves it that both these cannot be two different entities as they have to be Consciousness in essence because whatever is present is only Consciousness (as it is not Conscious, it has no existence and becomes insentient like a rock). All objects depend on Consciousness for their existence. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself has told earlier that Consciousness is the only object which illumines existence. Therefore any object has to have Consciousness as its essence in order for it to become existent.
Thus through logic also, we conclude that there is only Consciousness here in essence. The Jeeva and Ishwara are only names and forms of the one Consciousness. Our very experience also tells that we are the Ishwara or creator in dream state where we create a total world. This only shows that Ishwara is not different from Jeeva & that it is only ignorance which causes one to think that Jeeva is different from Ishwara. If Ishwara was different from Jeeva, then Ishwara ceases to exist in Deep Sleep, whereas Jeeva exists. This is the experience of every person that he sees or perceives nothing in the state of Deep Sleep where only the Jeeva exists in his true state of Consciousness.
Thus the “I” which is pulsating each and every moment is the Consciousness. It is what is known as Brahman, it is what is called Jeeva, and it is what is termed Ishwara. All these are different terms of the one Consciousness alone. Whatever is being perceived is only Consciousness. It is due to ignorance that duality is being perceived – the same Consciousness is being wrong perceived as dual objects. Similarly the difference between jeeva and ishwara is only in limitations and not Absolute or essential. Essentially both are one and the same only.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi thus concludes about Jeeva and Ishwara that when the limitations are removed, one’s own real nature of Consciousness is realized which is termed as Vision of the Self. The vision of God is nothing but vision of the Self alone. Both are the same only in essential nature.
Only foolish people will spend time thinking that “I am limited Jeeva, God is powerful, I should pray him, I should seek him and all”. The wise will never spend time on such activities and he will realize the Reality of God present within himself, he will realize the ultimate Reality that both God and Me are one and the same Consciousness alone.
As waves (which denote Jeeva) and ocean (denoting Iswara) are water alone with a name and form, similarly both Jeeva and Ishwara are Consciousness alone with different names and forms and different instruments of working in the illusory, empirical world.
The Vedas thus proclaim that everything is pervaded by God alone (here God is not meant as only the Sarvajna Ishwara but it is Brahman or Consciousness that is mentioned here). This is what the Jesus Christ proclaimed that the kingdom of God is in you, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Vijaanan vidvaan bhavathe na athivaadi
The wise person who knows the Reality never argues or enters into debates.
Thus a true seeker should put all his effort to realizing God in the heart, realizing one’s own real nature which is not different from God. Thus Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi stresses here that it is good to seek God in temples but that is not the final stage. The final Reality of God or Consciousness or Brahman is in the heart – it is one’s own real nature. Thus a person should try to realize God in one’s own heart rather than searching outside.
Yoga Vasistha thus says
Samtyajya hrid griha eeshaanam devam anyam prayaanthi ye
Te ratnam abhivaanchanthi hastastha kausthubam
Those who after renouncing (or not seeking) the God in the heart (meaning one’s own Self) go after attaining other Gods, they are like people who having the Kaustubha jewel (this jewel is very powerful and which Krishna wears in his heart) in hand go after other diamonds.
Thus, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi also says the same thing that a person has to realize the Self who is the same as God, jeeva, Brahman, Paramatman etc.
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Jnaana Yoga
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is expounding the path of knowledge in the last 15 slokas from 15th to 30th sloka of Upadesa Sara.
There is a very wrong notion among people that Jnaana is very tough and only Bhakthi or Karma will suitable for laymen or normal people. This is not right. The scriptures and Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi also proclaim that realization of the Self can be had only through knowledge of the identity of Brahman with the individual Self or Consciousness. There are no two different paths towards the ultimate Reality. Even though the paths of devotion, action, yoga and all are there – they all unanimously lead to the ultimate path of Knowledge.
The various paths are all followed in order to get Eternal Bliss and to get rid of the sorrows-sufferings. Upanishads proclaim that these sufferings are not real, they are only illusions in the Self which seem to be present due to ignorance of the real nature of Consciousness. If these sufferings were the nature or quality of the jeeva or one’s own Self, then they must be present in Deep Sleep also. But in Deep Sleep, there is no suffering or sorrow. This only shows that the sufferings are temporary and seem to be present only for some time. And if we see, great Mahatmas suffer more than we do. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi had cancer and he suffered from it for the last few years of his life. Jesus Christ was crucified. Krishna was chased constantly by Kamsa and Jarasandha. Sri Rama was sent to forest and had to be separated from Sita Devi. A person might now say that Krishna, Rama, Jesus are all stories only. In the first place, these are not stories but real incidents. But even if they are stories, they point out that suffering and sorrow are not internal in the person – they are only creations of the illusory mind. We see Tapovan Maharaj, the guru of Swami Chinmayananda suffering from cancer – these great saints never worried about their sufferings; instead they were much happier than the millionaires of their time. Swami Vivekananda went to US and lost his Visa and money also. Even before sanyaas, he suffered from poverty in his family. But still he was happy.
These are only historical events or stories but real incidents which have happened in the recent few centuries. All these show that sorrow is not the very nature of the Self or one’s own nature – but it is only creation of the mind. If these great saints could live happily amidst sorrows, then why can’t we?
The only reason why these great saints were happy is that they knew the ultimate Reality of oneness with Brahman – they knew that they are not the body but the Self of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This is the Absolute and ultimate Reality knowing which alone a person can conquer sorrow and sufferings which are only illusions.
The very famous and most preferred Bhakthi Yoga or devotion path is not seeking an external God, but it is contemplation of the God in the heart, seeking of one’s own real nature of God or Consciousness. Until this God in the heart is sought out, all search will continue and go in vain only. That is the real devotion wherein a devotee seeks only the God and finds out that the Lord is not different from me but my own very nature. This is what all great scriptures and Mahatmas proclaim. When the scriptures proclaim that “SARVAM BRAHMAA MAYAM JAGAT”, it means that whatever is present is Brahman alone (Consciousness) in the form of illusions of the world. Any illusion cannot be different from the Reality and hence is Reality alone perceived wrongly.
The great Narayana Sookta says
“Yat cha kinchit jagat sarvam drishyathe srooyathe api va
Antar bahih cha tat sarvam vyaapya narayana sthithah”
That whatever is present as the world which is seen and heard – it is pervaded internally and externally by Narayana – the ultimate Being of Brahman. Here external and internal means that there is no difference and no duality which again point out that the Self or Consciousness alone is everything.
This is what all great scriptures and great Mahatmas proclaim that everything is in you only and everything is you only – there is no duality here and you are the ultimate and Absolute Reality of Consciousness or Brahman or God.
The path of knowledge is the ultimate and the easiest also. Isn’t it easy to know our own nature? Yes, that is what includes in the path of knowledge. Isn’t it tough to contemplate on a God (the contemplator being Consciousness) who is sitting somewhere else (leaving behind the natural state of Consciousness or God in us)? Yes, of course it is.
People think that Jnaana is suited only for the intellectuals, but this is a wrong notion only. The path of knowledge is suitable for anyone who wants to know the Reality as the Reality and not the Reality as a form and name of Vishnu or Siva. Every name and form is bound to change is not the Reality but only an illusion in the Reality. What is required in the knowledge path is to realize one’s own real nature which has been forgotten. Because of this ignorance, one thinks he is the devotee and the Lord is someone great and unattainable. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has very well refuted this in the previous two slokas wherein he mentioned that whatever is present is Consciousness or the Self alone. There can never be a independent God who doesn’t depend on the Self or Consciousness because such a God will be dependent on Consciousness alone for his existence – neither Vishnu nor Siva can give a person existence other than Consciousness. This ultimate Reality that all Gods, all beings, all plants and other things are all Brahman or Consciousness alone is what the path of knowledge tells us.
Path of knowledge doesn’t put forth many long procedures to the Reality but just says three things to do.
Hearing of the scriptural statements about one’s own Reality
mentally reflecting the truth of the scriptures in order to avoid and remove doubts
contemplate on one’s own real nature so that ignorance veil is removed.
These are the only three things mentioned in the scriptures for the path of knowledge. These are not tough but in fact easy. In order to understand the scriptures which are very tough, Acharyas have written Sanskrit commentaries which have been translated in almost all the languages. As if that is not enough, Sri Sri Sankara has given us easy and simple contemplative works like Ekasloki, Bhaja Govindam, Nirvaana Shatkam among others. As if that was still not enough, people like Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi have spoken to devotees in order to clear their doubts and show the path to all other normal people.
If we still do say that knowledge is tough for me, then not even Brahman or Consciousness can help the person realize his own Eternal Reality of Brahman itself.
One never needs to study the Chaturdasha Vidyas, the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras and other tough works. Every work of Sri Sri Sankara tells the same theory in different ways. A single work of Upadesa Saram which Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has written is enough to lead the seeker to realization. The only thing required is little effort and time from the seeker to devote in listening, reflection and contemplating on this ultimate Reality that everything is Brahman alone.
If even that is not possible, a person just needs to see oneness everywhere. This itself will lead one to the ultimate Reality of non-dual Consciousness.
Every Mahatma says that all paths lead to the ultimate step of non-dual knowledge (knowing one’s own real nature of Brahman or Consciousness). Any path a seeker may take according to his nature, but ultimate that will lead him to this ultimate Reality of Knowledge or Jnaana that “I am Brahman, one without a second”.
Srimad Bhagavatha which is considered a text of Bhakthi by most people proclaims about itself in the last few slokas
Srimad Bhagavatha puranam amalam yad vaishnavaanaam priyam
Yasmin paaramahamsyam amalam ekam jnaanam param geeyathe.
Srimad Bhagavatha is that purana which is pure and liked by seekers of knowledge – wherein the ultimate knowledge of oneness is being propounded.
Thus, what is required from the seeker is just little effort to contemplate that “I am not the body, but I am Consciousness, one without a second. There is nothing here but Consciousness alone. As there is no duality, then how come sorrow or delusion – there is thus only Bliss, Eternal Bliss”.
Atma Samsthithih Svaatma Darshanam
Atma nirdvayaat Aatmanisthathaa…..26
Atma Nirdvayaat – Since the Self is non-dual or one without a second,
Atma Samsthithih – established in one’s own Self or Consciousness
Svaatma Darshanam – is the vision of the Self.
Aatma Nisthathaa – this is also fixing oneself in the Self.
As the Self is non-dual or one without a second, establishing oneself in one’s one Self or Consciousness is the vision of the Self. This itself is being fixed in the Self or Brahman.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this sloka again stresses that the vision of the Self is establishment in the Self alone.
A seeker should be very clear with the definition of liberation or realization and should know what this really means. Realization is not something to be gained fresh or after leaving the mortal coil on Earth. Realization is not something that can be seen because whatever is seen vanishes (is illusory alone like the worldly sense objects). This means realization is not an experience that can be attained in either heaven or during yoga meditation when kundalini power is aroused.
Realization is what already is. Realization is knowing one’s own nature of God or Brahman. Realization is vision of oneself (as one cannot see oneself, realization means removal of obstructions of ignorance so that the Self shines forth without any hindrance). Realization is one’s own very nature. Unless realization is what already is present, it will be born and hence will die also – thus it will not be Eternal. Hence, realization is something that already is present – that which is ever present and pulsates as “I-exist, I exist”. Knowing one’s own nature of this Self which pulsates as “I-exist, I-exist” is called realization.
Any object in the world can be experienced. All these are experienced by the experiencer. But the Self is the experiencer of everything and hence it can never be experienced. Thus the Self cannot be an experience of the mind and sense objects as it is beyond all these.
Therefore if a person says that I saw God in Kailasa yesterday, this means that his perception of God was not the real Self but only mortal God with a name and form which will obviously vanish after sometime (as the very experience of the person tells it).
Such a God is not the Reality of Self or Brahman. Thus, such a God is only a perception of the mind and an object of experience. As explained earlier, God cannot be seen because it is the Seer of all objects, the experiencer of all experiences, substratum of all illusions.
Thus, realization is knowing or realizing one’s own real nature of Self and not attaining some God sitting in heaven.
Haven’t the Upanishads said about attaining Moksha or liberation which in turn means there is bondage present?
Upanishads proclaim attainment of Moksha only from the illusory viewpoint of the seeker. As there is ignorance in the seeker who finds himself not liberated, Upanishads proclaim that there is illusory bondage present due to ignorance and this bondage is removed by knowledge of one’s own nature which is termed liberation.
Thus, bondage and liberation are only illusions and therefore for the mind alone – they do not affect the Self which is ever-realized. The Self is ever-realized, ever-liberated.
Man eva manushyaanaam kaaranam bandha mokshayoh
Bandhaaya vishayaasaktam muktaih nirvishayam smritam
Mind alone is the cause for liberation and bondage.
When the mind is craving for sense objects, it is in bondage & when it is not craving for sense objects – it is in liberation.
Chittameva hi samsaaro tat prayatnena shodhayet
Mind alone is the cause of Samsaara or bondage. It is removed through effort from the individual.
Yoga Vasistha says
Chit chetya kalitha bandhah tanmuktaa muktiruchyathe
Chit achetya kila atmethi sarva Vedanta sangrahah
Consciousness when through ignorance gets mixed with (seems to get mixed with) thoughts is called bondage & liberation from thoughts is freedom or liberation.
Consciousness without thoughts is called Atman or Self – this is the essence of Vedanta.
Thus, realization is already there but it has been veiled by ignorance by which a person superimposes the unreal and illusory things of body and mind over the sentient Self. Removal of these wrong notions is called realization.
Thus, realization is being established in the Self. Each moment the person forgets this ultimate Reality that “I am the Self or Consciousness”, he is facing the illusory world and sorrow-sufferings from the world. Thus effort must be always towards being established in the natural state of the Self. Established in the Self is nothing but being the Self, knowing that there is nothing here but Self alone.
Knowing thus the definition of realization, it is very easy to understand Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s current sloka. Establishment in the Self is the ultimate aim of human life through which alone a person can get Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self. The happiness that one gets from the external world are only temporary and hence unreal – they cannot give Eternal satisfaction or perfection to the individual. The only thing which is capable of giving Eternal Bliss is the Self which is the very nature of a person.
When a person starts from his house and reaches office – he always has a bit of uneasiness until he reaches back home. One may sleep in a five star hotel bed but still the happiness got by sleeping in the bed at home is different and superior only. This means that whatever is not natural to oneself, which will not give Eternal Bliss but only anxiety and incompleteness. In Deep Sleep, everybody rejoice in the Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self (at that time when there is nothing but the Self only). This shows that natural state of Self is one without a second, the state where there are no thoughts & where one abides as “I” and not as “I am the body or I am the mind”. This is what is termed by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi as being established in the Self.
The very scientific theory of inertia plays here also. Wherever there is deviation in the form of thoughts and actions, there anxiety also arises because one is not in his natural state of Bliss. Thus, abidance in the natural state is vision of one’s own real nature of Self of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This abidance when not mixed with any thoughts is the vision of the ultimate Reality knowing which there remains nothing else to be known.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi also states the ultimate Reality that the Self is one without a second. Abidance in the Self can give Eternal happiness only if there are no external objects to divert the attention. We find the various objects in the world diverting our attention in the states of waking and dream. But the real state of the Self is non-duality which is experienced during Deep Sleep. Only when there are no dual things can a person rejoice in the Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self (because at that time there will be no divertions).
The scriptures proclaim thus that the world that one sees is nothing but Consciousness or Self alone. When the Self is known in its entirety, the world loses its stature – it becomes as unreal as the mirage seen in desert, as snake seen in rope, as the dream world. That person who realizes the Self realizes that the mirage seen in desert is nothing but desert only – the dream that is seen is nothing but the dreamer alone, the snake seen in the rope is nothing but rope alone. Knowing thus, a person always abides in the Self and this is called vision of the Self, realization, liberation, jeevanmukthi etc.
Sri Sri Sankara thus says in Brahmajnaanaavalimaalaa
Ghada kudyaadikam mrittikaa maatrameva hi
Tadvad Brahma jagad Sarvam ithi Vedanta dindima
As pot, wall are all nothing but mud alone (with a name and form which is illusion in the Reality of mud), similarly the world is Brahman alone – this is the statement of Vedanta or Upanisahds.
When this ultimate Reality is known through the process of Self-Enquiry which Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi so elaborately and logically discussed till now, abidance in the Self becomes as natural as breathing. It is really a pity that the natural state of Self has to be realized through effort!!!!! That’s where the Brahmic power or Maya comes into picture.
Vedanta system according to Sri Sri Sankara is wrongly being termed as Mayavaada. Sri Sri Sankara never put forth a theory about Maya but said that the world is only an illusion in Brahman and as all illusions are nothing but the Reality alone, therefore Sri Sri Sankara put forth the theory of Brahmavaada where everything is nothing but Brahman alone. This is the ultimate Reality of one’s own nature – one already is Brahman or Consciousness alone, one without a second. This Reality has been forgotten and hence one has to constantly abide in the Self of the nature of Consciousness. Constant effort needs to be put to set aside the ignorance that I am not the Self & always reside in the ultimate Reality through contemplation that “AHAM BRAHMA ASMI – I am Brahman” – CHIDANANDA ROOPAH SIVOHAM SIVOHAM – I am that Self of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, I am the Self – one without a second.
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Knowledge and its need
What is need for spirituality? Will not sensual pleasure derived from external sense objects be enough?
A seeker should know the answer to the above questions clearly.
Spirituality is not something different from normal living. Spirituality is not taking to ascetism and doing intense tapas in a forest or in the Himalayas. Spirituality is trying to find out the real and permanent thing which in turn will give one Eternal Bliss and as to how life should be lived amidst external sense objects & distractions.
It is utter ignorance which has been handed down through traditions and generations which makes one scream and become afraid when the word SPIRITUALITY or the word Upanishads or Vedanta are heard. These are all due to misconceptions about spirituality and Vedanta.
Vedanta doesn’t advise anyone to leave his home and go to a forest to do meditation, but Vedanta tells one to live happily in the world (amidst all sensual pleasures). The greatest Vedantist quoted in the scriptures was all householders only like Vasistha, Viswamitra, Janaka, Ambarisha among others.
Thus, Vedanta is not a science of sanyaas and which has a prerequisite of Sanyaas – but Vedanta is that which leads one to be detached even while having attachments. Vedanta makes one a sanyaasin even when he is working in the society.
The external sense objects are always changing and impermanent. Thus, these objects cannot confer Eternal and permanent happiness to the seeker. The happiness that one derives from these external objects are temporary and will only lead to more and more sorrow (when happiness is got from ice cream –the expectation increases and next time if ice cream is not got, then the memory of happiness got before will lead to sorrow!!!!). Thus, only by seeking the permanent and real thing can a person get Eternal Bliss or permanent happiness. Spirituality is that science, it is that mirror which shows one the ultimate Reality and how it can be achieved.
Thus, spirituality is not just for the special few well versed in Sanskrit and scriptures, for the very few bearing sacred thread, for the few who have tufts in their hair or for the few who have taken to ascetism. Spirituality alone can confer Eternal and permanent Bliss to the seeker.
Spirituality mainly deals with knowledge part of the Vedas called Upanishads or Vedanta.
If we analyze into the sorrow that is derived from the external sense objects, we will realize that these sorrows are the creations of the mind alone. The objects themselves don’t give any sorrow but it is in the mind that the thought of sorrow and happiness are present. The same seeker when in the state of deep sleep where nothing other than himself is perceived rejoices in Eternal Bliss. This shows that Eternal Bliss is not different from the seeker & it emanates from the seeker only. When we again analyze this Bliss and the temporary happiness in the person, we will realize that the happiness comes because the wrong notions of body and mind are not present in deep sleep. But at this moment, the individual considers himself as the body with a name and form. Thus starts the journey of sorrow. Since the individual “I” has got limited to a form, others become different from this individual. Thus likes and dislikes are created due to attachment and aversion towards others (which again was created only through the limitation of the individual). These likes and dislikes in turn cause sorrow and happiness.
But if we think deeply, this “I” is neither the body nor the mind. It is beyond the body and mind. It is that which sustains the body and the mind. It is that which sustains both the gross body in this state of waking and subtle body in the state of dream. This “I” is of the nature of Consciousness. It is very clear that when “I” am there, the world is there. “I” am aware or conscious of myself. This Consciousness is thus my very nature. This Consciousness is also of the nature of Existence and Bliss.
When this Reality that “I am Consciousness” is known, then the world disappears as an illusion – the world becomes an illusion in the Reality of Consciousness because it is Consciousness which makes the world existent – without Consciousness there is no world at all. When thus the non-dual Consciousness, one without a second is known – then there is nothing to get attracted to or averted to. Thus there are no likes and dislikes & thereby no sorrow and happiness. The state becomes very much like deep sleep where also there is no duality and hence Bliss inherent in the Self is rejoiced. But in deep sleep, there is a veil of ignorance which makes one unaware of the Bliss in that state. But when this ultimate Reality is realized in this state, there remains no ignorance left as ignorance is nothing but forgetfulness of one’s own nature of Consciousness.
Thus, Sri Sri Sankara says in Aparokshanubhuthi
Ajnaana prabhavam sarvam jnaanena pravileeyathe
Everything arises out of ignorance and vanishes when knowledge dawns.
Here one may ask will then knowledge exist apart from oneself after ignorance vanishes?
This also Sri Sri Sankara answers in Atmabodha
Ajnaana kalusham jeevah jnaanaabhyasaat vinirmalam
Kritvaa jnaanam svayam nashyet jalam kathakarenuvat
Jeeva or individual endowed with ignorance becomes pure through the practice of knowledge. Once knowledge is complete, it itself vanishes as the Kathaka powder (used to cleanse water) vanishes after purifying the water.
Thus, we can conclude that it is due to ignorance that all problems have arised – ignorance of one’s own nature, ignorance about the illusory nature of the world, ignorance about the Reality that there is nothing but Consciousness alone and the world is also Consciousness alone – and this can be removed only through knowledge and no other means.
Any other means like devotion, action etc. are helpful only in purifying the mind – all these are born out of desires which again comes out of ignorance about one’s own real nature of PERFECTION (where desire can never arise). Thus, that which is born out of ignorance can never remove ignorance. Ignorance can be removed only through knowledge (knowledge about the ultimate Reality which is one without a second and which is the only thing present).
Sri Sri Sankara, according to the scriptures, says that there are four qualifications required for a person who wants to know the Self. These are called Saadhana Chatushtayam (four-fold qualifications).
These four are
Viveka or Discrimination between real and unreal
Vairagya or Dispassion
the six qualities of Sama (mental calmness), Dama (control of sense organs), Uparama (withdrawal of sense organs from their external sense objects), titiksha (endurance), Sraddha (faith in the scriptures and Guru’s words), Samadhana (mental equilibrium achieved through establishing the mind in the Self)
Mumukshutvam or burning desire for liberation
These four are not mere words or just concepts put to fit into a philosophy. A person who has these four qualities realizes the Self the moment the Guru tells him TAT TVAM ASI or THAT THOU ART. This itself shows the importance of these four qualifications which are essential if a person has to realize the Self, if a person wants to pursue knowledge which is the final means to realization.
These four qualifications are not separate and independent but they are dependent on one another. If a person follows one or two of these, the others follow suit.
Viveka is knowing the illusory world apart from the Self or Consciousness which is the Reality or substratum of the illusory world (even as dream world is an illusion in the dreamer). When a person gets this discrimination, he naturally gets attracted to the real thing of Self (because only real thing can give permanent and Eternal Bliss). This makes him dispassionate towards the worldly objects. As a result of these, he gets the desire for liberation – to be liberated from this illusion of the world. This in turn takes his mind away from sense objects (which is Uparama and Dama) – thus he gains mental calmness. Thus, he remains always established in the truth of the scriptures (which shows that he has the qualities of Samadhana and Sraddha).
Thus, all these four qualifications are not independent but dependent on one another.
One’s own face is not seen if the mirror is not clear. Similarly the Self or Consciousness (which is one’s own real nature) cannot be known or realized clearly if the mirror of mind is not pure and without any movement or thoughts. Thus, anyone can read the scriptures and know the ultimate Reality that “TAT TVAM ASI” – but mere knowing it intellectually is not realization. Realization dawns only when ignorance is removed through purification of the mind (which causes the ignorance). Therefore, one has to practice these qualities in order to be able to apprehend the ultimate Reality of Consciousness – one without a second. And only then will the realization dawn on the individual that the world, the scriptures, the knowledge everything is only an illusion in the ultimate Reality of Consciousness which is his very nature.
Let us all try to practice atleast one of the above four qualifications and therefore become eligible for realizing the Self (one’s own nature of Consciousness).
Jnaana varjita ajnaana heena chit
Jnaanam asthi kim jnaatum antharam…..27
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)
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).
Bhagavan Ramana 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 Tripati. 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 relative 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 that 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 Bhagavan Ramana 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 Bhagavan Ramana 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.
Kim svaroopam ithi Atma darshane
Avaya abhava aapurna chit sukham…..28
Kim Svaroopam – What is the nature
Atma darshane ithi – of the Self (thus enquiring, one finds that the Self is)
Avyayaa, abhava – Indestructible, unborn
Poorna chit sukham – Perfect and Full Consciousness and Bliss.
What is the nature of the Self (thus enquiring), one realizes the Self as Indestructible, unborn, perfect and of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is here giving the clear lakshana or nature of the Self or Consciousness which is the Absolute Reality of the relative illusory & hence unreal world.
In the previous verse Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi proclaimed that the Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance & there requires no external knowledge medium to know the Self which is the Seer that is always established and pulsates as “I-exist, I-exist”.
This is not a direct explanation of the Self or description of the Self. The Upanishads proclaim that everything in this world becomes an object and objects can be defined or described. But the Subject which itself is the definer of the definitions of the objects, the describer of the descriptions can never be defined or described. A person cannot see his eye with his eye. Only thing is he can see the eye with the help of a mirror which gives only a mirror-image and not a real image (this mirror image also is faulty as everyone knows about it).
Therefore Upanishads again and again proclaim that there is only one thing in the world which hasn’t yet been described perfectly – that is the Self or Brahman or Ishwara or God of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This is mainly because it is beyond words and thoughts which are the basic medium of explanations. The words and thoughts arise from the Self and hence cannot define its own source from which they derive the illumination and existence.
But the Self cannot be the voidness of Buddhists – as it is explained as Neti Neti in the scriptures & negation of everything leads to the Self & as the Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. Hence to clear this doubt of the seeker as to whether the Self is really existent or just another kind of illusion which is of the nature of voidness, the Upanishads gives the inherent nature of the Self.
That nature of the Self is being explained here by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. Let us try to analyze each and every word that Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi uses here to explain the Self (which is one’s own real nature).
Avyaya or Indestructible and Abhava or Unborn
That which is subject to birth is subject to changes as well as death. Such a changing object cannot be the Self because the Self is always constant – changeless and that from which the world gets its existence. Hence the Self is without any birth and death. Since the Self is without birth and death, it is without any change also (that which is born is subject to change also).
Only such a changeless being can give Eternal happiness. Any changing object cannot give Eternal Bliss as changing object will itself cease to exist after some time. Hence, the Self which is changeless is the ultimate Reality beyond time and space.
It is also pretty evident that such a changeless and birthless Self is my very nature. The “I” that we call is without any change – it remains the same as it was 10 years ago and 100 years ago. Even before birth of the body, the “I” was there and even after death of the body “I” remains. Thus one’s own very nature is without birth, change and death.
Perfect or Full – Poorna
The Self is perfect or full. That which is full alone can confer satisfaction or contentment. One’s own very nature is fullness or perfect being. This is very well known during the state of deep sleep where nothing is craved for and nothing is cried for. Only that completeness or fullness can confer Eternal Bliss which is being enjoyed or rejoiced in the state of deep sleep. This shows that one’s own very nature is fullness only. If one’s own nature were not fullness, then no one would want to go to Sleep – whereas everybody wants to go to sleep irrespective of any limitations.
It is a very well known fact that when a person is his natural state – there will be no disturbance, no tensions, no movement, no sorrow. This is known by the very fact of a person’s state of mind when he has gone to a place different from his house – his natural instinct is to return to his house. Until he returns to his house, he doesn’t have any rest. This is because only in the natural state, there is perfectness and completeness. In all other states, one strives for things – one has desires, tensions, complications, sorrows and sufferings.
The sorrow that we have is not the inherent nature of the Self or “I”. Because if sorrow was the natural state, no one would want to attain happiness. But we see that people are all striving for Eternal Bliss. The sorrow thus is not the real and natural state of the Self.
The inherent and natural state of the Self is Consciousness and Bliss as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says in the last few words. Consciousness is one’s own real nature because it is from “I” or Me that all objects gain existence. “I” alone is capable of having the independent experience that “I-exist, I-exist”. This is the nature only of the Self – not of any other object. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself proclaimed earlier that Consciousness alone is capable of illumining existence, therefore my real nature is Consciousness alone. Not just Consciousness, but Bliss also as we have seen above.
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Path of Knowledge
The summary of the path of knowledge (from 16th sloka to 28th sloka):
16) The mind withdrawn from the seen is the vision of Consciousness. That is the vision of Reality also.
17) When a person enquires “What is the source of the mind”, he finds out that there is no mind. This is the direct path to Reality.
18) Now, thoughts are the mind. The thoughts depend upon I-thought alone. Hence know that I-thought is the mind.
19) “From where this I-thought arises”, thus for an enquiring person, I-thought vanishes. This is Self-Enquiry.
20) When I-thought or Ego is destroyed, the pure I shines forth on its own as the Supreme and perfect (full) Existence.
21) This pure Consciousness or Self which is indicated by the word “I”, following the merger of the individual “I” or jeeva and when the total I or Ishwara also merges – shines due to the indestructible nature of itself.
22) I am the one and only Existence or Reality (the only thing really existing is I alone). The three bodies of gross, subtle and causal are not me as they are insentient and hence non-existent.
23) Where is there any other thing to illumine Existence apart from Consciousness (not there is not any other thing). Because Existence is Consciousness and I am Consciousness.
24) Between Jeeva (the individual) and Ishwara (the Lord or creator), there is difference only with respect to body and intellect (gross and subtle body). By their true and essential nature, Absolute Reality alone is (meaning by their essence both are Consciousness alone).
25) When the limitations or adjuncts of body and mind are removed, that is one’s own vision of the Self. This itself is vision of God as one’s own Self.
26) As the Self is non-dual or one without a second, establishing oneself in one’s one Self or Consciousness is the vision of the Self. This itself is being fixed in the Self or Brahman.
27) 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).
28) What is the nature of the Self (thus enquiring), one realizes the Self as Indestructible, unborn, perfect and of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
Knowledge and Action – Two distinct paths prescribed in the Vedas.
The Upanishads proclaim two distinct paths to be followed in the world (or while living in the world). One is the path of Nivritthi or that of renounciation and Knowledge. The other is the path of Pravritthi or action.
Any person in the world has the option to choose between either of these two paths. One path leads to Eternal Bliss whereas the other leads to temporary happiness either in this world or in the world hereafter (heaven or Vaikunta or Kailasa or any such lokas).
There is no other path than these two in the world.
Realization or liberation can be achieved or rather realized only through the path of knowledge. Realization is complete cessation of sorrow which in turn ensures Eternal Bliss to be rejoiced, to become perfect, to become complete so that nothing else is either craved for or aspired for. The realized person has no desires, no actions but always remains established in the Self, one without a second. Even though such a person might be seen as doing actions from the view of the ignorant people, he never does any action – the Ego has vanished thereby no actions are possible – he is ever united with the Self or Brahman or God.
Sorrows are neither something external nor the inherent nature of human beings. The nature of human beings cannot be sorrow because the nature is always aspired for and natural state is devoid of any tension or vibrations. But sorrow creates vibrations and tension. And nobody wants sorrow. This shows that sorrow is not the natural state of humans or the “I” or Consciousness (this “I” normally is associated with various equipments of body and mind – and hence seems to get attached to objects and emotions – but in Reality this “I” remains just a mere witness to all the actions and this witness is called Consciousness or Self). And one analyzes the state of Deep Sleep, he realizes that “I” enjoy only Bliss during that state – there is no sorrow. Also that state is always aspired for – hence it is right to conclude that Bliss is the very nature of “I” or Consciousness (this Consciousness is the real nature of everyone in the world).
Therefore, realization is nothing but realizing that Eternal Bliss is in Me. Then where does sorrow come from?
The ancient rishis asked this question to themselves and when they were analyzing this, they found out the Reality that sorrows are only illusions created in the mind. If sorrow was something inherent either in the Subject of Self or the objects in the world, any person enjoying the object should get sorrow. But it is not the same. Some people get sad or sorrow thinking of whisky or drinks – but the very same object becomes source of happiness for some others. This only shows that the sorrow or happiness are not in the external objects but in the mind of the Seer or Subject only.
When the mind is made pure, the very same object which gave sorrow previously gives happiness. This is the reason why great saints remain always happy in all surroundings and environments. They never are affected by those because their mind has merged into the Self. Their mind is no mind but only Self.
It is ignorance of one’s own real nature which causes the mind to enter into thoughts and thereby enter into the duality of sorrow and happiness. Clear out the mind, eliminate the mind – and the person sees only happiness everywhere (the happiness which is the inherent nature of the Self is seen or perceived everywhere).
This realization of one’s own real nature is called Realization or Moksha or Liberation. Realization is not something to be attained or achieved new – but it is already present. The Self is Nitya Suddha Buddha Mukta – ever pure, ever liberated, ever enlightened. Knowing or becoming aware that “I am realized” is called liberation. It is ignorance of this Eternal and real nature of oneself that causes sorrow and suffering in the world (which in turn makes one drive towards various temples and saints to find happiness either through money or through power or through so-called devotion which lacks the real qualities of devotion). It is a real pity that the Self which is ever realized is trying to find happiness in the external world whereas it has the happiness inherent as its very nature.
The famous story of Kucchu and where my glasses are has to be remembered to understand this. The glasses or spectacles were in his eyes and with that he was searching where his glasses were.
This is the case of search for happiness in the external world. No object external whether it be the idol of Vishnu or Siva or whether it is the very Lord Vishnu or even the form of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi cannot confer Eternal Bliss which is present only in the Self – in the heart of all beings – and is the very nature of the Self (which we all always were, always are and always will be). What the form of Vishnu or Siva can confer is only limited and temporary happiness which will last only till the form exists or the form is visible. So much is the devotion that the moment a person stands in between the Seer and the Lord’s idol – there starts cursing and abusing!!!!! Therefore, Eternal Bliss or Moksha is realizing one’s own nature – not going to any Mahatma or any temple or any saint (even be it Adi Sankaracharya also). A great realized saint will only say the ultimate Reality that “TAT TVAM ASI” or THAT THOU ALREADY ART.
If people are thinking the above words as harsh and against scriptures as well as against great words of Mahatmaas, these are not my words. This limited intellect and body named HARIRAM has nothing to add to whatever has been told in the scriptures and by great Mahatmas.
Yoga Vasistha says
Santyajya hrid griha eeshaanam devam anyam prayaanthi ye
Te ratnam abhivaanchanthi tyaktvaa hasthastha kaustubham
Those who renounce or forget the Eternal God in the heart (one’s own real nature) and run after other Gods, they are like people who run after jewels while having the great jewel Kaustubha in hand!
Kena Upanishad says
Iha ched vedha atha satyam asthi ched iha avedin mahathee vinasthih
If this Reality is Known here, it is Truth – if not known here, it is a great miss.
Sri Sri Sankara says in Dashashloki
Nahaam na tvam
You are not there, I am not there.
Then what is there
Tad eko avashisthah shivah kevaloham
There exists only ONE Consciousness or Self which is Absolute in nature (one alone without any second object).
In the great Gopika Gita in Bhagavatham, Gopis tell about Krishna
Na khalu gopikaa nandhano bhavaan
Akhila dehinaam antharaatma drik
You are not the son of Nanda O Krishna, but you are the Self of all beings.
Krishna says in Gita
Avajaananthi maam moodhaah maanusheem tanum aasritham
Param bhaavam ajaanantho mama bhoota maheswaram
Those who consider Me (the Self) as being embodied (in the form of Krishna) are fools. They don’t know my real nature of pure Self and controller of the elements or controller of creation itself (or controller of the senses which is the Self).
Thus, all the above scriptures proclaim in one voice that the Self is one’s own very nature, God is not different from the innermost being & God is one’s own very nature only and knowing this ultimate Reality is Realization.
The world of creation itself is only an illusion & like a long dream. This illusion is superimposed on the Reality of Self whether it is called Consciousness or God or Brahman or Ishwara or Vishnu or Siva. All the various terms point to one Reality alone of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.
Realization is thus realizing one’s own real nature knowing which one realizes that the world around are only thoughts & mere illusions in the Reality of Self – which seem to exist because of ignorance of one’s own nature of Self.
As Reality is veiled by ignorance, it can be removed only through knowledge & not through any other means.
Actions are propelled by desires. Any thought alone is converted to actions. Hence, desires are what is generally termed as thoughts. These thoughts and desires arise of the goal to achieve perfection or completeness. This desire to achieve perfection is due to ignorance about one’s own real nature of PERFECTION or PARIPOORNA ATMA.
Hence KARMA arises out of KAAMA and KAAMA arises out of AVIDYA. Thus ignorance is the main cause of actions. Since ignorance is the cause of bondage & its removal being the only way to realization – action cannot pave way to realization (because action is not against ignorance as it itself is born out of ignorance and will add more to ignorance). Therefore the only way to realization is KNOWLEDGE which is opposite of ignorance & is capable of removing ignorance.
The Upanishads proclaim the path of Knowledge as the one and only way to realization. Whatever other means of devotion or action or yoga one follows – one has to reach the goal through knowledge alone – the ultimate non-dual knowledge that I alone exist here is called Knowledge or Brahma Vidya. This alone is realization and liberation.
Therefore no action can confer one realization as action is not against ignorance which is the main obstacle for realization.
Interested people can go through Sri Sri Sankara’s Brahma Sutra Bhashya on Sutra 1.1.4 or the first chapter of Sureshwaracharya’s Naiskarmya Siddhi where they both deal in depth that Action can never confer realization and only knowledge can make one realize one’s own real nature of Consciousness.
Even the acts of meditation or Samadhi or bhajan or devotion are only ACTIONS which has its base in ignorance alone. Hence the one and only way to realize the Self is to contemplate on the ultimate Reality of one’s own nature through hearing of the scriptures, reflecting in the mind & contemplating in the Reality. This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells as Enquiry or Vichara in Upadesa Saram. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself has mentioned in the work that the meditatation or devotion that “I am HE” is better than the devotion which has the separation between the devotee and the Lord.
Ishwara and Jeeva
These are two terms which have caused lot of problems and different theories or philosophies among various acharyas. One has to understand that whether it is Jeeva or Ishwara both have their base in Consciousness alone. We cannot imagine Vishnu without Consciousness, we cannot imagine God without Consciousness – that God ceases to be a God in that case. Therefore it is Consciousness which appears as the dual objects of the world. Ishwara and Jeeva are different based on their limitations of intellect & in essence, they are one and the same only.
This is what Vedanta proves through various Mahavakyas of TAT TVAM ASI (THAT THOU ART), PRAJNAANAM BRAHMA (Consciousness is Brahman), AHAM BRAHMA ASMI (I am Brahman) and AYAM ATMA BRAHMA (This Self is Brahman only).
When the limitations of intellect, mind and body are removed, what remains behind is Consciousness alone – one without a second. This Consciousness is the only thing in the world which is capable of experiencing its own existence (that “I-exist, I-exist”). The various objects in the world exist only because of the light from Consciousness. Therefore Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi proclaimed that the Self is Existence and Consciousness. The Self is also of the very nature of Bliss as experienced in Deep Sleep. This Bliss is not rejoiced now because of the limitations of the body and mind. When these limitations are removed, one enjoys the Eternal Bliss inherent in the Self. Therefore the Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute.
The Self is beyond both knowledge and ignorance – as both of these are objective even the knowledge got from the scriptures are not real knowledge of the Self – but they are only objective knowledge used to negate objective ignorance. When illusory ignorance is removed through illusory knowledge of the scriptures, both vanish & the real knowledge or svaroopa of the Self shines forth. This is the reason why even though one is already the Self, one is advised to contemplate that I am Brahman or I am the Self. This is not real knowledge but only vritti knowledge or knowledge in the form of thoughts which are used to remove all other thoughts. When other thoughts are removed, this thought also vanishes (as –ve eliminates +ve and vanishes itself leading to a state of voidness where objects are not there and only Subject of Self remains).
Lastly, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi proclaimed that the Self is neither born nor will it die. IT is always present, it is the only thing present. It is the only Reality which is seen in all illusions of rope-snake, dream, mirage and the long waking world. There is only Self here, one without a second. And this Self is not somewhere in Vaikunta or Kailasa but it is one’s own very nature. Knowing this is realization and the aim of human life. This is what is the main aim of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram also.
Bandha Muktyatheetham param sukham
Vindhathi iha jeevah thu daivikah…..29
Jeevah tu – The individual jeeva (who has acquired knowledge which is the nature of the Self)
Vindhathi - attains (realizes)
Daivikah – the divine state
Param – which is supreme and ultimate,
Sukham – Blissful in nature and
Bandha Mukthi atheetham – beyond bondage and liberation
Iha – here in this world itself.
The Individual Jeeva (who has acquired the knowledge of the Self) realizes the divine state (his own real nature) which is supreme, Blissful and beyond bondage and liberation here in this world itself.
Any work according to the scriptures contains the phalasruthi or the result of learning the work & imbibing the import of the work through practice and experience. Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi explains what would happen for the person who reads this work and contemplates on the meaning of the work and puts it to practice through intellectual conviction realizes the Self knowing which nothing remains to be known.
Thus the effect of the work is Self-Realization alone. Self-Realization is not just the fruit of this work alone but of all the Upanishads. The Upanishads has Brahman as its Vishaya or Subject. The achieving of Brahman or attaining Brahman alone is the import of all Upanishads. All various philosophies of Vedanta or schools of Vedanta accept this. The difference of opinion comes as to whether this Brahman is different from the Self or one’s own real nature – or it is the same as the Self. Most of the schools except Advaita don’t accept the Self to be one with Brahman – they also don’t accept Brahman as without qualities or Nirguna. For such schools, Brahman is God with various attributes.
But as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has explained previously itself that God and Jeeva are essentially one alone – but only seem to be different due to the limitations which are only mere illusions in the Reality of Consciousness. The essence of both God and Jeeva are Existence which is not different from Consciousness. Thus the Brahman and the Jeeva are not different but they are essentially the same. It is ignorance which causes one to think that “I am different from God, I am different from Brahman – hence liberation is being a part of God or attaining the loka of God or praising the God”. Once the ignorance is known to be only mere illusion through knowledge of the Self, the Self alone remains – one without a second. There is at that time no Jeeva or Ishwara different from the Self. The Self existing, all other objects exist, all other limitations exist. This is the ultimate Reality which if not known will not lead to Eternal Bliss whether the person goes to Vaikunta or to Kailasa, whether he prays Avataars or the Lord himself – because all the differences of Avataars and Lord etc are only creations of the mind. They simply vanish during Deep Sleep. This shows that they are not real but seem to be real when the mind is present. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself has proclaimed, mind is only a bundle of thoughts arising out of Ego or I-thought. When the source of the mind or I-thought is sought out, it itself ceases to exist. At that time, only pure Consciousness exists – without any limitations.
Thus, the very purpose or goal of the Upanishads is to realize the Self which is one’s own real nature and not different from Brahman.
Let us now try to analyze one of the Upanishads in order to find out whether the import of Upanishads is to realize Brahman and also whether Brahman is the Self only or different from it.
The Mundaka Upanishad starts by the disciple of Saunaka (a householder) questioning Sage Angiras thus
Kasmin u bhagavo vijnaatham sarvam idam vijnaatham bhavathi ithi
That by knowing which everything becomes known – let me that O Lord!
A similar verse occurs in the 7th Chapter of Gita where Krishna tells to Arjuna
Jnaanam te aham savijnaanam idam vakshyaami asheshatah
Yat jnaatva na iha bhooyo anyat jnaatavyam avashishyathe
I will tell you knowledge along with experience or wisdom – knowing which there will remain nothing else to be known.
In Mundaka, thus questioned by Saunaka, Angiras starts explaining the creation process of the world, how the world came from Brahman and that everything here is Brahman alone. He goes on to enumerate many things in the world telling that all these came from Brahman alone (which means that everything is Brahman alone as that which came from Brahman cannot be different from Brahman). In a very much similar way, Krishna says to Arjuna after the above verse that whatever you see here is ME alone (here Me means Brahman or Consciousness alone and not the form of Krishna as supposed by many people – Krishna himself states in many places that I am not this form but Brahman alone). After telling that everything is Brahman alone, Angiras then tells Saunaka the way to overcome the samsaara or suffering through chanting of AUM (AUM is the symbol which represents Brahman – it stands for Brahman which cannot be explained or described – thus it is a linga or pointer to the ultimate Reality of Brahman).
After telling all this, the Mundaka Upanishad concludes by Angiras telling Saunaka
Sa yo ha vai tat paramam brahma ved Brahmaiva bhavathi
He who knows the Supreme Brahman becomes Brahman itself (here Supreme is mentioned in order to distinguish between Brahman from which creation starts which is inferior or Saguna Brahman endowed with MAYA and Nirguna Brahman which remains one without a second and from which no creation is ever possible).
Thus, a knower of Brahman becomes Brahman itself. This Brahman if known, everything becomes known. This is possible only if everything is Brahman alone – else knowing one single object, everything cannot be known. As by knowing a single mud particle, the complete mud products are known – similarly by knowing Brahman everything is known – thus says Chandogya Upanishad. This is possible only if mud products are mud alone but with a name and form. This is true as we all know.
Similarly the world is thus only a name and form of Brahman – by knowing Brahman, the world which is in essence Brahman alone is known.
This can be true only if the individual Self or Consciousness is not different from Brahman because Brahman also exists only if Consciousness exists – if Consciousness is not there, even Brahman ceases to exist. Thus we have to conclude that the individual Self is Brahman alone (as the various Mahavakyas say that AYAM ATMA BRAHMA – this Self is Brahman alone and SARVAM KHALU IDAM BRAHMA – everything is Brahman alone).
Thus, we come to the conclusion that the Self is Brahman only – that Brahman by knowing which everything becomes known: that Brahman which stands for the illusions of names and forms which is the world: that Brahman which is without any change and ever remains as one without a second, even during times of illusions when world seems to exist (as rope only exists even when the snake is seen and rope remains without any change even though it seems to change into the snake).
This is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has been telling in the path of knowledge till now. Thus Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi says in this sloka that the Self realizes its Supreme state of Bliss (when knowledge becomes complete through the path of enquiry).
The Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute as has been explained in the previous postings. This inherent Blissful nature of the Self is rejoiced by everyone at the time of deep sleep where no external objects are perceived & only the Self remains. Thus the person states after waking up that “I slept well but I did not know anything”. This ignorance of the Bliss rejoiced in that state is the cause for all the sorrow and sufferings in the world because the world itself is a cause of ignorance alone. As ignorance of the real nature of rope is the cause for seeing snake in the rope, similarly the ignorance of one’s own real nature of Self or Brahman and one without a second is the cause for the dual perception in the form of the world which again leads to dualities, likes and dislikes and further to sorrow and sufferings.
Thus, the only way out of this is to realize one’s own real nature of Consciousness through the path of enquiry into one’s own nature after hearing from the Guru about the Self, reflecting on the mind the nature of the Self & then contemplating on the ultimate Reality that I am the Self, one without a second.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi adds in this sloka that the Self is beyond bondage and liberation because the Self is ever-realized. There is no liberation for the Self. Liberation and bondage are only for the mind which seems to exist when the Reality of Self is not known. Thus bondage and liberation vanish the moment Self is known – they do not exist at all, they only seem to exist & will appear as only illusions without disturbing the Reality. That state where the Self is realized is termed as Mukta avastha or realized state.
This realization is to be attained or realized here itself and not in the other world of heaven, Brahma Loka, Vaikunta or Kailasa. The various Upanishads themselves proclaim this.
Katha Upanishad says (2nd chapter 3rd Valli 4th sloka)
Iha ched ashakat bhodhum praak sareerasya visrasah
Tatah sargeshu lokeshu sareeratvaaya kalpathe
If this Reality is not known here before leaving off the mortal coil, then the person returns to various lokas and goes through the cycle of birth and death continuously (this means no Vishnu or Siva or any avatar can save the person unless the person realizes his own Eternal nature of Self – the various Gods can only serve to make one eligible to realize the Self through purification of the mind & can guide one to the Reality. It is the individual who has to realize his own Eternal state of realization. A Sadguru who has realized the Self will know very well that there is no Guru and no Shishya but only the Self, he will always be established in the Reality even though he might be seen as doing work through the eyes of the ignorant)
Kena Upanishad says (2nd Chapter 4th sloka)
Iha Ched vedeet atha satyam asthi
Chediha avedeen mahathi vinashthi
If the Reality is known here – then it is Truth and becomes experience. But if it is not known here, then it is huge loss.
Thus, the Self is one’s own real nature which is to be realized here and in this world and in this birth itself – one should never wait to realize the Self after getting old or after marrying and getting grandchildren or after doing rituals or after doing devotion to the Lord or after getting a vision of the Lord. All these are good and fine, but they are not the ultimate Reality. The ultimate Reality is that I am the Self – one without a second, I am the God, I am Brahman, I am the Vishnu who is all-pervading and seems to be present in Vaikunta, I am the Siva who seems to be wearing rudraakshas and bhasmaas sitting with Parvathi in Kailash, there is nothing here different from Me, I am the Reality which stands for the illusion of the world, I am Consciousness of the nature of Bliss Absolute.
This is the ultimate Reality which is aim of Upanishads and of all beings in the world (some know it and search for it in the heart, others don’t know and hence search for it in temples and other objects in the illusory world).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi therefore asserts in this sloka that the ultimate Reality has to be realized here itself.
A person should not term that realization here (and that too that I am God) is not right and is only suited for certain intellectual people or certain people ordained by the Lord. All these are wrong ideas and rubbish (not my words, but all great Mahatmas and Krishna himself says this in Gita and Bhagavatha). Those are fool who think thus and are not willing to realize their own very nature of Self – those people are to be termed as MAD and IDIOTS who don’t know their own very nature of God, Brahman and Self and think that I am the devotee of the Lord, I am the servant of the Lord, I am the body and the mind, I am a grihastha, I am a Brahmin, I am a ritualist etc. All these notions are mere superimpositions on the Reality of “I” present due to ignorance about one’s own nature. Such people are termed as MOODHAAH or IDIOTS by the scriptures.
Sukracharya, the asura Guru tells to Mahabali in Yoga Vaasishta.
Chit iha asthi hi chin maatram idam chinmayam eva cha
Chit tvam chit aham ethe cha lokaah chit ithi sangrahah
Consciousness is what is present here, there is Consciousness alone. All this is full of Consciousness alone. You are Consciousness, I am Consciousness and the various worlds are Consciousness only – this is the essence of all teachings and the ultimate Reality.
Bhavyosi chet etasmaat sarvam apnoshi nishchayam
No chet bahvapi proktam tvayi bhasmani hooyathe
If this know now, then everything is known. But if you are capable of knowing this, then nothing can make you realize the Reality and everything will be like offerings to the ashes (instead of the yajna fire).
Chit chetya kalitha bandhah tan muktaa muktiruchyathe
Chit achetya kilaatma ithi sarva Vedanta sangrahah
Consciousness when mixed with thoughts (due to ignorance) is bondage & liberation is removal of thoughts. Consciousness devoid of thoughts is the Self – this is the essence of Vedanta.
Evam nishchayam aadaaya vilokaya Dheeyedhayaa
Svayameva atmana atmaanam anantha padam aapyasi
Knowing this Reality, a person should see things with this discrimination and from this understanding. Thereby, he will realize the Self without any external effort & attain the infinite state of one’s own real nature (attain here means realize).
The last part of the sloka thus says that Guru is not important (in human form). The various scriptures themselves are Gurus only, the various works of Sankara are gurus. If a person follows then with devotion and faith, he realizes the Self within no time because the Self is already realized and all efforts are only to remove the ignorance which is done through study of scriptures or contemplation which don’t necessarily require a Guru.
Thus, the Self is already realized and each & every one is the Self alone. Without knowing the Self, nothing in this world or the other worlds can help the person because all these are creations of ignorance alone. One’s own very nature is Self and realizing that is the ultimate aim of all beings. This realization of the Self can be had through learning of the Upadesa saram, reflecting upon the meaning of the Upadesa saram (reflection means to clear out all doubts and getting a clear intellectual conviction about the Reality) and contemplating on the Reality that has been propounded by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this work.
With this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has ended the essence of the work. In the last sloka (30th sloka) which is the next sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi again summarizes the whole teaching of the work thereby stressing on the ultimate Reality that has to be realized through the various Upanishads and through all the various paths to the Reality.
Aham apethakam nija vibhaanakam
Mahad idam tapo ramana Vaageyam…..30
Aham apethakam – Devoid of Ego or Ahamkaara
Nija Vibhanakam – and that which shines of its own (Self-luminous)
Mahad idam tapo – is known or realized through austerity in the form of this work and its practice
Ramana Vageeyam – written by Ramana
Devoid of Ego or Ahamkaara and that which is self-luminous (the Self or Consciousness) is realized through the austerity of studying this work of Ramana.
With this sloka, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi concludes the Upadesa Saram. This concluding sloka itself has the complete import of the work in it. What is the work about? The work is about realization of the Self-luminous Self which is devoid of Ego or different from Ego and that which is realized when Ego vanishes. Who has written this work? Ramana has written the work. Here Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi puts a pun on the word Ramana. He doesn’t mean the name and form of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi who has written the work – but he says that Ramana is the Self which has spoken about itself.
The name Ramana Maharshi was given to Ramana by Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni, the great scholar and poet who even after learning the complete Vedas and other works did not find any peace of mind. He thus went to Ramana one morning and told him. Ramana then asked him “you say I don’t have any peace of mind. Find out this “I”, all sorrows will vanish”. This struck Ganapathi Muni very strongly as he had undergone lot of sadhanas and his mind was pure. He started meditating at that moment itself and meditated till the evening and he found out peace of mind. At that time, Ramana was called by the local people as Brahmana Swami (as he was a Brahmin by birth). Then, Ganapathi Muni called him Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi meaning a Maha Rishi – one who conquered everything and one who has realized the Self. He also called him Ramana which means that which is attracting – since the Self is attractive to everyone in the form of happiness (everyone irrespective of whether he knows or not, is searching for happiness alone and is attracted to happiness alone). Thus he called the great saint Bhagavan Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
Thus, here by Ramana is meant the Self alone and not the form of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
Thus, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi tells that it is the Self alone which is self-luminous and shines of its own. As Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi himself proclaimed in the 24th sloka that there is no other object which illumines other than Consciousness (Consciousness alone illumines everything in the world). This Self is of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. Thus, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has pointed out that by knowing or realizing the Self alone one can get Eternal Bliss.
The path to realizing the Self is being mentioned by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi as grasping the meaning of the work & implementing them in life.
The Self is ever-realized but it is ignorance of one’s own real nature which obstructs the ultimate Reality that I am the Self to be known. And as a result of this ignorance, sorrow and sufferings are caused.
This ignorance itself has no cause, it is only an illusion which seems to exist due to lack of knowledge of the Reality. The moment the Reality about the Self is known, that very moment ignorance vanishes and only Self remains. This is the natural state of everyone. There is nothing here apart from the Self or Consciousness. I, you, the great Mahatmas, the samsaaris, the various animals, the various plants – everything are Brahman or Consciousness alone. This is the ultimate Reality that alone can confer Eternal Bliss to the individual. The individual sees himself as the limited Ego, but in Reality he is the Self which is one without a second and of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss Absolute. This Self is realized through enquiring into one’s own real nature. Enquiry is possible only when the Reality is heard from a person who has realized the Reality. This is the first step towards enquiry – this is hearing about the scriptures from a Guru or from the scriptures directly. Once the Reality has been heard about, then starts mental reflection on the Reality – the various doubts are removed through logic and arguments. This removes all the doubts and intellectual conviction is gained. Once intellectual conviction is present, then through contemplation on the Reality or holding on to the real “I” – the ignorance veil is removed. The ignorance is present only because the Self has been forgotten. If the Self is hold on continuously, the ignorance never comes in again and this is called realization or liberation or jeevan mukti.
The aim or goal to be achieved through this work of Upadesa Saram is to realize the Reality of the Self through enquiry. A seeker might follow any path of devotion, knowledge, action or yoga – but all these lead to the final step where the individual has to know the Reality that “I am the Self” – this final step is called Vichara or enquiring into one’s own real nature which has been stressed in the yoga vasistha, by Sankara and by Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi. This vichara is nothing but asking the question “Who am I” to oneself and finding out the answer through logic and to reach the Self as the final answer. When that self is known, then one should hold on to that thought of I am the Self – this in turn ensures that divertions do not happen and a person stays in the Reality itself or as the Reality.
The Self alone is the real entity. Everything that is seen is only an illusion in the Self – hence they are all unreal from the Absolute standpoint. This Self is thus the nature of everyone. This Reality that “I am the Self and the world is also the Self only” is what Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi propounded in this small work of Upadesa Saram.
This ultimate Reality can be realized only through knowledge but many people are not suitable or eligible to directly follow the path of knowledge. Even if it is followed, those who are attracted towards the worldly sensual pleasures cannot realize the Self and know the meaning of the subtle scriptures. Hence, the various other means or paths are propounded in the Vedas. These are the path of devotion, action and yoga. These various paths also lead to the ultimate Reality of oneness of the individual and Brahman or God or Ishwara. Thus, these are the various paths alone and the end is the non-dual Reality and its knowledge.
Thus, for all sorts of people, Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi has expounded the various paths beautifully in this work and has shown that all these paths lead to the non-dual Reality alone. Even though these paths may seem to be different but they are interlinked and a seeker cannot progress without following all of these paths.
Only fools will fight over that this path is greater or that path is greater, wise people will follow whatever path is suitable for them keeping in mind the ultimate knowledge which is the goal to be achieved or realized.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is not just propounding any theory here on the basis of scriptural study or intellectual knowledge – but this truth is what Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi experienced and is speaking out his experience.
Vedanta doesn’t rely on any experience which only few selected individuals selected by either God or by Sankaracharya or by any other Mahatma can experience. Vedanta tells about the experience which any ordinary person can also experience. It propounds that Truth which is the essence of the world, the essence of the individual, the essence of existence itself. This Reality is what is propounded by Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi in this work.
Upadesa Saram of Ramana Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi – Various paths
Bhagavan 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 Bhagavan Ramana 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, Bhagavan Ramana 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.
Bhagavan Ramana 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.
Srimad Bhagavatha 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 Bhagavan Ramana 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.
OM TAT SAT