Saturday, September 4, 2010
ATMA BODHA =(POST 4)= BY ADI SANKARA = WHO AM I = THE ETERNAL QUESTION ANSWERED
SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
TEXT & COMMENTARY
(POST -4 – VERSES 10,11,12)
10 Yathakaso Hrushikeso
Nanopadhi gatho Vibhuh
Tadbhedat Bhinnavat Bhati
Tannase Kevalo Bhavet.
Hrisheekesa, which is the same as Brahman, as explained in the previous Post, is all pervading. He seems to be different things to our perception because of the Upaadhis.
Upaadhis are the various names and forms with which we try to identify all things and beings; hence, they all appear to be different. All upaadhis need names and forms and differentiation based thereon, for their identification. But, Brahman is nameless and formless.
If the Upaadhis bound by names and forms are out of consideration or dissolved, only Hrisheekesa (Brahman) remains. Brahman pervades everywhere, which includes all Upaadhis – and the inside of them and the outside of them.
For example, Akaasa (Space) is all pervading and is just one. But when we make a pot and look into it, the space inside the pot is identified as pot space (Ghataakaasa) with finite surroundings. The water you pour into it occupies the pot space and is of finite volume. You will say its volume is this much. This pot space seems to go wherever the pot goes along with the pot. This is an illusion.
If the pot is broken, and becomes small pieces or mud, we again find the oneness of the entire space. There is no distinct pot space now. But, the space where the pot was there remains even now.
Actually, the space seemingly inside the pot, the space occupied by the material (mud) of the pot and the space outside of the pot are not, were never were and will never be three different spaces. The space is never disturbed or broken by the pot coming into being. The space remains one always. The name and form of the Pot is a Upaadhi that we recognize and use for our routine purposes of convenience and our transactions.
The space in the pot, the space in the house, the space in the vessel all seem different but once the nature of these Upaadhis is recognized, we understand that all these upaadhis with different names and forms can never disturb the oneness of the space or Akaasa.
Upaadhis made by us or made in any manner in nature are all, not separating Brahman in any way. The come into being and go out of being as part of sristi, sthithi and layam. But the all pervading Brahman remains undisturbed, in them and out of them as ADVAYAM always.
A SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION :
In Vedanta, Akaasa is considered to be the first element to be created (in Sristi or Creation). Its characteristics are akin to Brahman. It is also limitless and all pervading, like Brahman. From Akaasa comes Vaayu (air), from Vaayu comes Agni (Fire), from Agni comes Water (Aapaha), from Water comes the Earth (Prithivi).
How do the ancient sages know the order of creation to be so? Well. Let us consider purely logically and scientifically – what can happen in creation.
If Space is not there, nothing else can exist. Any thing else can exist in space only. So Space is the first element to exist. The one point beyond ordinary imagination is how can the space also be a creation? Let this remain so for the time being. There are a few things beyond ordinary imagination, including Brahman and including space, time etc. Let us understand what can be understood logically. Space has to exist first – logically speaking.
Let us now consider a huge star like Sun? What does it consist of? Hydrogen, Oxygen, Helium and all other air components. Is it not clear that only Akaasa is the birth place of all these elements of air (or the gases) which together make the stars, the galaxies and so on. Vaayu is therefore said to be born from Akaasa. Akaasa is the first and Vaayu is second in the order of creation.
The Sun consisting of Vaayu (or only gases) is actually burning all the time!! We see that and we know that. Is it not Agni, or, fire? It is. So, it is said, Agni comes from Vaayu. Agni is the third in the order of creation and its source is Vaayu.
When the burning Agni cools, we get water (or liquid of any kind) in the shape of the oceans, streams and so on as we can see on the earth. These formed when the fire cooled off. The Vaayu, which became Agni must cool off to produce water (or liquid forms). Is this not correct? So Water (Apaha) is said to be born of Agni – and is the fourth in the order of creation.
When the liquid cools further, it becomes solid. It becomes solids like earth. So, Prithivi (earth) comes from Apaha (water or liquid). Earth is thus the fifth element among the pancha maha bhoothas in the order of creation.
Akaasa, Vayu, Agni, Apaha, and Prithivi are thus considered as the five great elements (Pancha Bhoothas) which are born in that order, each from the previous one and which in turn give rise to all other beings and things.
But, Sristi, Sthithi and Layam apply to these as well. They go back to the source they came from and come back again from that source. The secrets of creation and dissolution are not easy to unravel – until the source, the Brahman is known fully.
11 Naanopaadhi Vasaadeva
Jaati Varnaasra maadayah
Atmanya aropitah thoye
Rasa Varnadi Bhedavat
Pure water has no colour, taste or smell. But when it comes in contact with other Upaadhis, we feel water has different colours, tastes and smells. But these are not the characteristics of pure water but are all, of the upaadhis.
You may see it in the Sea and feel that water is salty and bluish. You may see it in milk and feel, water is white and sweet. In any upaadhi, we ascribe the colour, taste and smell of that upaadhi to water, which by itself, has none of these.
In a similar manner, because of identification with the Upaadhis, and their names and forms, we ascribe names, varnas (castes), Aashramas (celibate, married, retired, renunciate and so on) etc to the ATMAN, which has none of those distinctions.
These names and forms are part of the Maya (Avidya or Prakrithi or Ignorance) which gives rise to such reasoning.
Perception of the pure atman can happen only when the upaadhi dosha is removed from our perception.
In this sloka (verse), Adi Sankaracharya has taken the example of water, while in the previous sloka, he had taken the example of Akaasa. Water also has a property similar to that of Brahman – Water, in its purity, is free from colour, smell and taste, like Brahman.
In place of Brahman, he has used the term ATMAN, which also signifies Brahman. Sankaracharya emphasizes in this sloka and in several others that Atman has no distinctions of Jaathi, Varna, Asrama etc. The same thing is spelt out by him in his Maneesha Panchakam as well.
The perception of the Brahma Jnani (or, Atma Jnani) is therefore beyond all such distinctions.
12 Pancheekruta Mahaabhoota
Sambhavam Karma Sanchitam
We have discussed in previous verse, the Pancha Maha Bhoothas or the Five Great Elemental Forces, which are formed in a particular order.
These five great elemental forces combine in specific proportions in a process called PACHEEKARANAM. The process of combination through Pancheekaranam is given in great detail in another text of Adi Sankaracharya, called “Thathva Bodha”.
This process of Pancheekaranam of the five great elemental forces gives rise to the GROSS BODIES (Sthoola Sareeras) according to the Sanchita Karma carried forward from the previous births.
The unspent Karma phalam or the un-enjoyed fruits of past actions is stored in the form of Sanchitha Karma. A part of it becomes ripe for enjoyment in this birth. This becomes the Prarabdha Karma.
The Gross bodies are the seat of all pleasures and pains to be enjoyed and suffered during the current birth according to this carried forward Sanchitha karma.
The five great elemental forces and all the things and beings formed out of them through the process of pancheekaranam are part of the MAYA (or the ANATHMA). The MAYA has powers like Aavarana and Vikshepa through which it covers the Jeevathma with Ignorance, which in turn leads to all life and its pleasures and Pains.
Till the 11th verse, Adi Sankara talked about only the Brahman. In the 12th verse, he is talking about the formation of the Gross Bodies, the first visible part of the life forms. The gross body is the only tangible part of the life form and is the seat of all pleasures and Pains. This implies that there are no pleasures or pains without the gross body. To be more specific, there are no pleasures and pains to one who does not identify with the gross body but identifies with Brahman.
This instantly reminds us of Bhagwan Sri Raman Maharshi whose dis-identification with the gross body was reflected in several incidents in his life. He underwent major surgeries without any anesthesia. His feet were filled with painful thorns and he never cared to get them removed but walked on them.
He showed how for the one who identifies with the Atman (Brahman) and dis-identifies with the gross body, pleasures and pains become meaningless and do not touch the life.
Pleasures and Pains are fleeting and impermanent. One follows the other in succession, through out life, according to the Karma Phalam to be faced by the Individual.
The Atman has no pleasures or pains. It is Sat Chit Ananda swaroopa. But Maya makes it go through the pleasures and pains, in the physical bodies it takes, with which its identification occurs due to the Maya.
Being the seat of pleasures and pains, the gross body undergoes childhood, youth, old age, health, diseases, accidents, pains, physical pleasures and so on.
The examination of the Anathma proceeds further in the next sloka.
* * * E N D * * *