Wednesday, November 10, 2010
ATMA BODHA = SELF KNOWLEDGE = BY ADI SANKARA = (POST - 24 – Vs 66,67,68) = EVERY THING TO GAIN & NOTHING TO LOSE = START THE JOUNREY
SRI ADI SANKARACHARYA
TEXT & COMMENTARY
(PART - 24 – VERSES 66,67,68)
We are about to deal with the last three verses of Atma Bodha. As we now know, Atma Bodha is the quintessence of Upanishadic knowledge which is called the end point of Vedas (Vedantha).
The Four Vedas of Rik, Yajur, Sama and Adharvana deal with Karma Kanda or worldly duties. Karma performed in the way laid down in Vedas becomes Karma Yoga. The Karma Yogi recognizes that - all that is, and all that we see and experience – is given to us by the lord of the Universe and that we bring nothing with us and take back nothing with us. The Body and mind also are not ours. They are constantly giving themselves away to the lord and replenishing themselves from him. Karma Yoga results in purifying the body and mind to the highest degree.
Karma Yoga essentially – involves daily performance of the PANCHA MAHA YAJNAS – i.e., doing our duties towards –
(i) the celestial powers/gods (called deva Yajna)
(ii) the great sages, past and present (called Rishi Yagna)
(iii) the dead and alive elders (called Pitru Yajna)-not only ours but of all elders
(iv) all human beings (called manushya yajna) and
(v) all beings, animals, birds, insects, trees etc (called Bhootha yajna)
Are we helping them by this? This is not considered help to them – but as our bounden duty.
When a totally unknown person comes to your town, taking care of him, feeding him etc is not considered help to him. He is giving you an opportunity to see and serve the very GOD, in him.
We say – Athithi Devo Bhava. The great God has himself come to us in the form of this person, the Athithi, and taking care of the Athithi is the best form of prayer and puja to God himself. Can we see the almighty in our today’s Athithi? Tomorrow a new Athithi will come. Can we see the almighty in him too? Can we see the almighty in every new Athithi who comes to us all through our life? We can and we must.
We feed and serve the Athithi (a new man), but do not call him a beggar, do not call our attitude as our compassion towards him, but call it as compassion on the part of the Athithi towards us, to receive our services, and we seek his blessings for it. We call him ‘Athithi Deva’. We are not compassionate to him – he is compassionate to us!! That is the reality!!!
It is the same with Deva Yajna, Rishi Yajna, Pitru Yajna and Bhootha Yajna. The Pancha Maha Yajnas, as you can see, arise from a huge “abundance mind set’. There never was a scarcity mindset in Vedic India. We will deal in greater detail about the Pancha Maha Yajnas in our future posts on Karma Yoga.
Karma Yoga graduates into Bhakthi Yoga when we start searching for our very source. We want to see, experience and be with our very source. Bhakthi Yoga starts when we recognize that - Whatever is born must fall and die one day. Body and mind are destined to fall. Not only the human being of the earth – even the earth, the sun, the stars, the gods and the whole creation goes back to where they came from. What ever is born must die one day and what ever has died must be re-born again one day. Bhakthi Yoga seeks the very source of all this creation and dissolution.
Karma and Bhakthi Yogas graduate into Jnana Yoga. Jnana Yoga is extolled in all Upanishads. Karma Yoga makes you see the almighty in all beings (animate and inanimate), Bhakthi yoga makes you seek your very source and be with it – but Jnana yoga makes you recognize your very source within yourself.
You are the source. Aham Brahma asmi. I am the Brahman. I am the source. I am the creator, the created and the act of creation. Other than me, there is nothing else.
Lord Krishna has extolled Karma, Bhakthi and Jnana Yogas in his Bhagavad Gita. Adi Sankaracharya is extolling Jnana Yoga in Atma Bodha. But, as we all remember, the very first verse tells us the qualifications needed for the seeker of Atma Bodha or Jnana Yoga. When we look at the four fold qualifications set out by Adi Sankara, we that – these are the essence of karma Yoga and Bhakthi yoga that makes us eligible for Atma Bodha.
You and I are, in a sense, extremely fortunate. Not even one in a lakh of persons has the great fortune of reading and assimilating Atma Bodha, the ultimate wisdom there is on earth. If we have come here, it is not mere chance. It is destiny. We are seekers of the greatest possible joy. We are not giving up every thing. We are embracing every thing. We are every thing.
Let us look at the last three verses now:
66 Sravanaadibhihi Uddeeptha
Jeeva Sarvamalaath Muktah
Swarnavath Dyothahte Swayam
Gold by itself is very pure. But, in nature, it is not available in its pure state. We get gold as ore with many impurities. It needs cleansing by an intense process of heating to a high degree. On such heating, the impurities attaching to it can not remain attached to gold. They automatically fall off from it. Gold comes back to its pure state and shines in its original state.
Likewise, Jeeva in his original state of Atma is very pure. But, in the universe, Jeeva remains impure because of the impurity of ignorance or Maya attaching to it.
The impurity of Ignorance attaching to Jeeva needs to be removed through the intense heat of the Fire of self knowledge.
Atma Bodha, the fire of self knowledge, will heat up the Jeeva until, all impurities of Ignorance or Maya fall off.
Then, Jeeva shines like pure gold obtained after melting and purifying the gold ore.
How is the heating and purifying of the Jeeva done through Atma Bodha?
First – we apply the process of Sravanam (listening to Atma Bodha). The process of Sravanam from a competent Guru infuses self knowledge into us.
The next process is Mananam - or periodically recollecting on self knowledge – as often as possible. The Mananam process is essential for firmly embedding the Self knowledge in our Intellect and in our Chidhabhasa. Mananam removes all vestiges of doubts from the Buddhi.
The third and final process is Nidhidhyasanam. This deep contemplation process is required to be done for a long time and most firmly. A suitable place, posture and environment helps greatly in the process of Nidhidhyasanam. We have dealt with it in Vs.31 to 41. In this process, One must contemplate deeply on the features of Atma – not as features of some Atma – not as if Atma is some second or third entity – but we as Atma our self. The core of Nidhidhyasanam is to firmly embed the knowledge that, these features “all pervading, Nirguna, Sath, Chith, Aananda etc” which we have used to describe the indescribable Atma – are “my own features”. And, this process must be done until this knowledge becomes firm and unshakeable in us. I must know that I am the Atma, I am the Brahman and I am the Aananda. This is the Jnanagni in which Jeeva must purify himself into Atma.
67 Hrudaakaasodito hi Atmaa
Bodha Bhaanus Tamopahrut
Sarva Vyaapee Sarva Dhaaree
Bhaati Bhaasayate Akhilam
Space, or sky, is huge and limitless. There is another space which is considered equally limitless. This is our mind space (Hrith–akasa) which is equated more with the Buddhi (Intellect) rather than with the manas (emotional mind). The Buddhi can be equally expansive and limitless.
When Sun is not there, the limitless sky is enveloped in total darkness. This darkness of the sky is illumined by the rise of the SUN. Likewise, the hrith-akasa (mind space) is enveloped in the total darkness of ignorance or Maya. This darkness of ignorance in the Hrith-akasa (mind space or sky) can only be illumined by the rise of the SUN of Atma Bodha or self knowledge.
Self knowledge envelopes and illumines the whole of hrith-akaasa and supports all actions and vritthis of the individual. When, Atma Jnanam is complete in the intellect, when we actually identify totally with the Atma, we see our self in every thing and every thing within our self. In this way – we are all pervading and we are the underlying support for all actions and transactions occurring in the world. We, as Atma, illumine the whole world.
68 Dikdesa Kaa laadi Anapekshya Sarvagam
Seetadi Hrunnitya Sukham Niranjanam
Yassvaatma Teerdham Bhajate Vinishkriyam
Sa Sarvavit Sarva Gato Amruto Bhavet.
Human life’s Basic and most binding limitations are Dik (Directions like east and west), Desa (place - of birth, stay etc) and Kaala (time – present, past and future, times fixed for duties etc).
Adi Sankara talks of removal of these and all other limitations .Life is restricted by many dualities like happiness and sorrow,which we have mentioned earlier in this commentary.All these act as strong chains that bind us to Sareera thrayam, to external universe and to their vritthis. They can only bind the One who is not Atma Jnani – and keep him bound all his life.
But, one who becomes Atma Jnani becomes free of all these chains and limitations imposed by Maya and stays free in his original state of Atma. The veil on our wisdom is Ignorance and removal of this ignorance of Self through Atma Jnanam instantly removes the veil and the Atma shines in its pristine purity.
May you, as Atma Jnani, be freed from all such limitations.
When our identification with Sareera thrayam falls off – automatically, we are freed from Seetha and Ushna (cold and heat) and other dualities that affect Sareera thrayam.
May you, as Atma Jnani, be freed from all dualities afflicting us through the Sareera thrayam.
May you, as Atma Jnani, enjoy Nitya sukham (eternal Aananda) and freedom from all stains oon our mind and body.
In India, different sacred places by the side of its rivers are called theertham, the holy waters from the divine. One who dips himself (takes bath) in such holy waters is cleansed not only of his body stains and impurities but also of the sins that he may have committed and atoned for. May you always be immersed in the holy waters of the Atma theertham and thereby become free from all karma (nish-kriya) and karma phalam.
May you be the Sarva-vid (all - knowing) - meaning total Self knowledge.
May you be Sarva Gathaha, the all pervading (as Atma).
May you be immortal (Amrutha)!
Thus ends the treatise of Atma Bodha.
Do not stop the journey of Atma Bodha here. Continue it till you attain Atma Jnanam. How does it happen? Listen to a Guru (There are many great ones like Sri Paramarthananda) as Sravanam. You have web sites where his lectures and of other great Gurus are available. Read this commentary again and again. (You can email it others or reproduce in your blogs or web sites or any where. No one has a copy right for this knowledge).This will serve as Sravanam and Mananam both. Think of each concept and churn it in your mind – as Mananam.
Finally, Contemplate on each feature of atma – as your own feature, as Nidhidhyasanam process. This is a two step process. First, what you are not must be contemplated on and the same must be cast off ( as nethi, nethi…not me, not me..).Next, what you are – must be contemplated on as, this is me, this is me.. (ithi,..ithi..).
Nidhidhyasanam is the deepest contemplation on the self. It is not some hallucination process or self hypnotization or the power of positive thinking. It is contemplation on the absolute truth beyond sensory perception and ordinary mind perception. We are transcending these limitations, accessing our Chidhabhasa and through it accessing our real self the Atma, and be one with it. There is nothing to lose but every thing to gain in this process. Absolute, unlimited, eternal joy is yours – it is you! At the same time, you still enjoy the temporary temporal life and its joys too, but with a new awareness.
We, the readers and explorers of Atma Jnanam have another sacred duty on us. This knowledge must spread. Please must make all out efforts to spread this knowledge. There are good people, we can grow with. Seek them and spread in them this Atma Jnanam.
You won’t lose any thing. You gain every thing. Much Faster.
=OM THATH SATH =
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