(POST-2 - VERSES 2,3,4,5)
Saturday, August 28, 2010
ATMA BODHA = (POST 2) = BY ADI SANKARA = ANSWER TO THE ETERNAL QUESTION = WHO AM I?
SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
TEXT & COMMENTARY
In the first post on Atma Bodha, we have seen that the final result of Atma Bodha is eternal Joy. Not that we get eternal Joy – but that we become the eternal Joy itself. We have also seen the Anubandha chathustayam – (i) the subject matter of the book, (ii) its essential use or benefit, (iii) the eligibility criteria for seekers, to acquire the knowledge in the Book and (iv) the relationship of the user of the book to the use of the book and the subject matter in the book.
We will now proceed from the 2nd sloka:
2. Bodho anya-Sadhanebhyo Hi
Sakshan-Moksha Eka Sadhanam
Pakasya Vahnivat Jnanam
Vina Moksho Na Sidhyati
Which is the only direct path to Moksha or liberation? There may be many Sadhanas (efforts) which we do and more which can be done, all of which yield many good results. But, without Atma Jnanam, or knowledge of the Self, Moksha will always remain elusive.
It is like the FIRE which is considered the most essential requirement for cooking purpose – even though you do need other things like rice, vegetables, spices, utensils etc. If rice is not available, you can take wheat. If vegetables are not there, you can take cereals. But, if fire is not available, there is no alternative way of cooking. So, Fire is indispensable and is the direct cause of cooking.
Knowledge of the SELF is the direct cause of Moksha. Reason is – Knowledge or Jnanam is the only thing that can destroy Ignorance (Avidya or Maya) which is the one holding us away from liberation.
But, there is a purpose for other Sadhanas and austerities – which is the purification of the mind and heart and ensuring a proper mental condition for our spiritual growth. Receiving of Atma Jnanam becomes easier with these Sadhanas and austerities.
Every Sadhana (Effort) is intended to achieve a Sadhyam (a Target goal) – on achieving of which, the Sadhaka (Person making the efforts) becomes a Siddha (one who has attained the Goal).
These Sadhanas make you the Adhikaari, the entitled person to receive this supreme knowledge.
Let us also understand that there is no need to suffer any of these Sadhanas. Every Sadhana takes you to a higher point of JOY and not to a greater level of suffering.The causes of your suffering tend to drop off as you progress in each small or big sadhana.
3. Avirodhitayaa Karma
Karma (Action) cannot destroy Avidya (or Maya or ignorance) as Karma is not different from it and not opposed to it. For destroying darkness, we need its opposite, namely Light. When light is brought, darkness is automatically removed. It cannot stay. Likewise, Knowledge (Atma Jnanam) is to be brought - to destroy Ignorance or Avidya.
Karma or Action arises from desires of the Body, manas and Buddhi (Body – emotions – intellect complex) and is intended to fulfill their desires. So, Karma or action is within the sphere of Avidya or ignorance and cannot destroy Avidya.
Here, Knowledge always means Atma Jnanam and not any other learning. Ignorance means ignorance of Atman and not of other subjects. One may possess any amount of knowledge and intelligence on many other subjects. But, if he lacks Knowledge of the SELF, his Ignorance of SELF continues and he is bound by Maya or Avidya.
When some one attains Atma Jnanam, his need for karma drops off. What he does after attaining to Atma Jnanam has an altogether different quality of the “Eternal existence-consciousness-bliss” that he has known himself to be.
The seven great enemies which we have seen in earlier Posts ( Desire, Anger, Greed, Sex-Lust, Pride, Envy and Fear) which cause Maya in us will not touch the person who has attained to the ATMA JNANAM. He is always joyful.
The second sloka emphasizes that any amount of Action or Karma is not going to remove Avidya or Ignorance from us. Only Knowledge of SELF leads to removal / liberation from Avidya or Ignorance. Adi Sankara emphasizes this aspect in all his writings.
It is never stated that Karma is useless. It is only useless to remove Avidya. But, proper Karma makes one an Adhikari who is eligible for the knowledge of self.
4. Paricchinna iva ajnanat
Tannase Sati Kevalah
Swayam Prakasate hi Aatma
Because of Ignorance (Ajnana or Avidya), we feel many limitations on the SELF or the Atman. When this Ignorance (Ajnana) is destroyed by knowledge of the self, Atma is instantly visualized just as Sun appears to be emerging when dark clouds are dispersed.
Just as the true nature and brilliance of Sun is hidden by the clouds, the true nature of the eternal and self-luminous Atman is hidden by Ignorance.
This ignorance makes it appear that the all pervading Atman is a physical and a finite being. The Ignorance gives it various names (Naama) and shapes (Roopa). The Naama roopas mislead us into believing that Atman is such a name and such a shape.
But, in reality, Atman is like the self luminous SUN, which can never be hidden by a cloud.The Ignorance (Or the clouds) are in our mind in the shape of Naama roopas – and nowhere near the Atman (or the SUN).
This ignorance is to be destroyed by means of various processes of acquiring knowledge such as Sravanam (Listening from Guru), Mananam (Remembering it) and Nidhi dhyasanam (deep contemplation) and realization of the truth. For this purpose only, the Vedas and Upanisads provide us the vedic mahavakyas ( the Great truths) like Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman) and Prajnanam Brahma (Brahman is pure consciousness) and so on. These Mahavakas are mentioned in an earlier Blogpost on Adi Sankara’s Maneesha Panchakam (2 Posts).
5. Ajnana Kalusham Jeevam
Krutwa Jnanam Swayam Nasyet
The Jeeva (or the Jeevathma, the soul within the body and identifying with the body-mind complex) is rendered impure by Ignorance (Avidya). It is therefore purified by the acquiring of the knowledge of the Self. After purifying the Jeeva, the Jnanam dissolves itself and disappears as it is no more needed.
This is compared to a cleansing Nut of a tree (Kataka nut) which when dropped in impure water, cleanses the impurities suspended in the muddy water and then dissolves itself and disappears.
We have seen in earlier Posts what seven great enemies spoil our lives and render them impure and dirty. Atma Jnanam instantly removes these seven great enemies of mankind.
This means, the Maya enveloping us falls off from us. We (the Atman) begin to shine as our true self.
In this process also, initially, we find three entities – the one who seeks to Know (called Jnaatha), the process of seeking (Jneyam) and the the Knowledge sought and known (Jnanam). Once the Atma Jnanam is attained, these three dissolve totally as mere reflections of your true self. There is no more a Jnaatha seeking a a Jnanam through a jneyam. All are dissolved. You the Atman shine as your true self.
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