Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Bhaja Govindam- the philosophy of Sankara - part 2

       The  essential  teaching of  Aadi Sankara  was  stated  by  himself  as  "  brahma  satyam,  jagan mithya , jivo brahmaiva na para ". Brahman  , the  Absolute , alone  is  real,  this  world  is  unreal  and  jiva, the  individual  sou is  no  different  from Brahman. . Brahman  / Atma  indicates  the  Absolute Reality ,which  is  non-dual  ,  advaitam. . The  supreme  Brahman  is  nirvikara,  nirguna,  nirvisesha   and  eka  and satyam. . Brahman  is  the  witnessing  subject  and  can  never  be  the  object  of  our  knowledge.  Brahman  is  Sat-Cit- Ananda  principle. 

    The  acharya  emphasised  that  the  only  way  to  realise  that  Brahman  is  through  jnanam  alone. . To  be a qualified   person  for  entering  the  path  of   gnanam  , he  prescribed  the  fourfold  qualification  called  sadana  chatustaya  sampatti.  He  considered  Bhakti  as  a step  to secure  the  grace  of  the  Lord to  finally  reach  the  state  of  oneness  with  the  Lord  /  Brahman.  He  also  gave  importance to   karma  ,to selfless  actions  done  with  a  detached  mind  for  gaining  purity  of  mind.   Brahman  is beyond  the  reach  of the  senses,  mind  and  intellect , hence  the  Brihadaranyaka  Upanishad  declares  ,'neti, neti, ,  not  this,  not  this  '.  It  is  the  essence  of  the  knower, the  seer,  the  transcendental  Truth,  the  Turiyam  , the  silent  witness  .  The  acharya  accepted  the  concept  of saguna  and  nirguna  Brahman  . The  same  nirguna  Brahman  appears  as  the  saguna  Brahman  for  the  worship  of  the  devotees.  Nirguna  Brahman  is  the  highest  Truth  seen  from  the  Paramarthika  standpoint,  while  saguna  Brahman  is  seen  as  Truth  from  the  vyavaharika  stand point. 

Monday, 26 June 2017

Bhaja Govindam -About the author -part 1

      A new  series  of  essays  on  the  life  of  Aadi  Sankaracharya  and  his  famous  composition  the Bhaja  Govindam  , I  hope  to  write  from  now  on. I invoke  the  blessings  of  the  acharya  to  help  me  on this  journey .
         Bhagavadpada  Acharya  Sankara  was  a  great  thinker  and  he  was indeed  the  noblest  of the Advaita  philosophers. . He  appeared  at a  time when  the  Hindu philosophy needed  him to  rejuvenate the  Hindu  religion  and  philosophy. ,for  the  Hindu  society  had  broken  up and  had  become  disunited  after  the  Buddha's  sunyavada  teachings. . It  was  at  this  time  that  the  acharya  tried  to  bring  about  a  revival  in our  Hindu  culture and  philosophy   by  giving  us  the philosophy  of  non-dual  nature of  Brahman  of  the  Upanishads  .

       He  was  born to  Sivaguru and  Aryamba  ,more  than one thousand  two  hundred  years  ago  in Kaladi, kerala.  At  the  age  of  thirty two, he  had finished  his  work and  folded  up  his his  avatara.   Within  his  short  span  of  life , he  wrote  commentaries ( bhashyam ) on ten  Upanishads , the  Bhagavad Geeta,  the  Brahma sutra, he  composed  the  Vivekachoodamani  and  many  other  texts , religious  stotras consisting  of hymns  and  meditative  verses. He  established  four  Maths  in four  corners  of the  country. He  had  four  important  disciples namely:  Padmapada,  Sureshwara , Hastamalaka  and  Totaka.  One  wonders  whether  they  were  the  four  purusharthas  in  human  form ,or  the  four  Vedas,  or  the  four  faces  of  Brahma, the  creator !

      The  sum and  substance  of  the  essence  of  Sankara's  philosophy  ,   was  stated  by  himself  as  "  brahma  satyam,  jagan mithya  , jivo  brahmaiva  na para " . Brahman  the  Absolute   alone  is  real  , this  world  is  unreal  and  the  jiva or  the  individual  soul  is  not  different  from Brahman. 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Atma/ Brahman -part 9

           So  we  have  seen  from  our  the  previous  pages that  Brahman  can  never  be  objectified ,  cannot  be  known  through  any  instruments  of  knowledge  , then  a  doubt  arises   does  that   Brahman  exist  ? Upanishads  explain  that ,  Brahman/  Atman  is  the  very  subject , the  very  conscious  being  ,  the  knower  which  objectifies  everything  but  cannot  be  objectified.  Paramatma  cannot  be  illumined  by  the  small  aarti  that  is  shown  to  Him  during  the  deeparadana  . Upanishad  says  it  is  you  alone  who  are  illuming the  fire  through  the  consciousness  that  is  actually  illuming  the  fire. . Sunlight,  moonlight , stars,  lightning, ,  fire  none  of  them  illumines  consciousness  , but  it  is  Consciousness  that  illumines  all  of  them , makes  the  sunlight  known  and  moonlight   and  everything  else  known. 

         Brahman  is  the  very  subject  " I  " ,the Atma   which  illumines  all  other  lights  in the  world. . Now  a very  important   doubt  arises  in our  minds ,  to  reach  that , and   if  I  have to  get  this  knowledge  that  'aham  brahma  asmi ',  then  how  much  do I  travel  to  reach  that  Truth? . Reaching  Brahman  is  not  a physical   event  which  requires  a  process  or  time. Reaching  Brahman  is  an  intellectual  event  ,which  involves  dropping  the  misconceptions  that  there  is  a  distance  to  be  travelled  to  reach  that  Truth  ,  that  there  is  a  gap  to be  filled  between  that  Brahman  and  me. . When  I  carry  the  misconception  , I  think  that  the  Lord  is  in Vaikunta  or  Kailash  , so  I  look  for  a  travel  to  these  places. . It  is  knowledge  alone  that  can  remove  the  false  notions . Other  than  knowledge  there  is  no  merger  with  the  Lord . Having  merged  with  the  Lord  through  the  aikya  gnanam , there  is  no  coming  back and  that  destination  is  my  own  higher nature  says  the  Lord   in the  Geeta .    

      With  this  the  topic  of  Atma/  Brahman  gets   concluded 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Atma / Brahman - part 8 .

           There  is a  wonderful  mantra  in the  Kathopanishad  (  2-5-15 ) , which  is  repeated even  today  during  aarti ,in all  temples  in India. . The  mantra  states  that the  sun does  not  shine  there , nor  does  the  moon,  nor   the  stars , nor   the  lightning  ,  much  less  this  small  aarti  I  am  showing  to  the  Lord ,  will  help  light  up  the  light  of  consciousness .  When  He  shines  , everything shines  after  him,  because  of  Him .

      The  realm  of  the  Self,  the  Atma  ,which  is  the  land  of  Absolute  knowledge  , is  the  plane  of  Divine  God  Consciousness  ,  there  is  no  agent  to  light  and  illumine  it.  Just  as  we  need  no  torch  to  lighten  up  the  sun,  similarly  ,  no  light  on this  universe  can  ever  hope  to  lighten  up  that  Divine  Consciousness.  . This  Divine  Consciousness  is  the  substratum  for  all  the  activities  in life. . When  life  leaves  this  body  ,  all  activities  of  the  sense  organs,  the  physical  body,  mind  and  intellect,will  come  to  an  end. . Then  to  that  dead  person  ,  there  is  no  sun,  moon,  stars , the  lightning  ,and  the  light  of  fire.  ,  all  these  lights  make  sense  to a  person  only  as  long  as  there  is  this  consciousness  principle  in him. . So  the  giver  of  all  sources of  life  is  the  Divine  Consciousness,  the  Self,  the  Atma /  Brahman. . Everything  shines  only  by  its  light. 

        What  the  upanishad  wants  to  emphasise  is  that  the  Divine  Consciousness  cannot  be  objectified  by  any  instruments  of  knowledge. , It  cannot  be  illumined  by  anything  in this  universe. . Any  pramanam  ,an  instrument  of  knowledge is  called  light. . In  its  presence  objects  are  known.  So  in the  presence  of  the  sun,  the  moon,  the  stars,  the  lightning,  the  light  of  fire,  the  sense organs  , shabda  , etc , things  are  known.  Brahman  cannot  be  known  through  any  of  these  pramanams .   How  to  know  that  Truth ?

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Atma / Brahman -part 7

             Brahman  is  a  mixture  of  Purusha  and  Prakriti  principle. . This  mixture  is  called  Isvara. . This  Isvara  alone  existed  before  the  origination  of  the  world.  Isvara  has  no  beginning.  . Both  Purusha  and  Prakriti  have  some  common  features ,  both  of  them  are  beginningless  principles , and  both  together  become  the  cause  of the  world. ,  the  jagat  karanam.   There  are  four  major  differences  between  the  two  . Purusha  is  a  chetana  tatvam  , while  Prakriti  is  an  achetana  tatvam  , Purusha  is  nirvikara  , Prakriti  is  savikara  ,  Purusha  is  nirguna  and  Prakriti  is  saguna  , and  finally  Purusha  is  satyam  ,having  an  independent  existence  of  its  own  ,while  Prakriti  has  only  dependent  existence  , hence  called  mithya  . 

       Even  space  was  not  there  before  creation , So  it  is  foolish  to  ask  ' where  is  God  located ?'  This  Purusha  is the  basic  consciousness  principle  . Do  not  go  searching  for  it  in the  outer  world.  It  is  " I" ,  the   subject  ,the experiencer,     the  observer ,  the  witness  of  this  world . . That  Consciousness  principle  I  am  . .This Purusha   is  not  located  anywhere. . This  Purusha  is  available  behind  the  body-mind  complex  as  the  sakshi  chaitanyam ,  which  we  refer  to  as the  'I  '.,  the  consciousness  principle.  This  sakshi  chaitanyam  does  not  illumine  as  a  positive  action  but  in its  presence , the  body  gets  illumined  and  the  body  comes  to  believe  it  is  sentient  on its  own !  Consciousness  pervades  every  cell  of  my  inert  body   and  mind  and  makes  them  sentient   because  of   which  my  ears  can  hear,  my  eyes  see  ,  my  mind  thinks  and  so  on. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Atma / Brahman .-part 6

                Brahman  alone  appears  as  the jagat. ,  manifests  as  the  jagat. . Brahman  alone  is  the  real  substance  , there  is  no  world  other  than  Brahman. .  We  may  say  that  it  is  Consciousness  +names  and  forms  becomes  the  material  universe , the  five  elements,  the  elementals  etc. . The  intangible  Consciousness  alone  manifests  as  the  tangible  universe  in the  form  of  names  and forms. . There  are  two  aspects  in  the  names  and  forms. .  One  aspect  manifests  only  the  sat  rupa  of  Brahman. , and  it is  the  inert.jagat.. Another  aspect  manifests  along  with  the  sat  rupa  , the  cit  rupa   also  of  Brahman   like  our  physical  body  which  manifests  both  the  sat and  cit  rupa  of  Brahman. ,  manifests  both  the  existence  and  consciousness  aspects  of  Brahman.  and  this  is  the  jiva, the  sentient  being. 

          That  part  which  manifests  only  the  existence  aspect  of  Brahman  is  the  inert  jagat  ,  the  insentient  part  of  the  universe. . Where  Brahman  is  manifest  as  both  sat  and  cit , it  is  the  sentient  part  called  the  jiva. , Brahman  is  manifest  in the  whole  of  creation ,  just  as  gold  is  manifest  in all  ornaments. , If  a  person  misses  this  Brahman  ,which  is  manifest  as  both  the  jagat  and  jiva  , which  are  so  evident  , then  we  can  only  say  that  person's  mind  is  really  very  gross. . Looking  at  all  the  people  and  yet  not to be  able  to  recognise  the  sat  and  cit  principle  in everyone , then  all  that  we  can  say  of ,such  a  mind  is   that it is  in very  low  level  of  spiritual  growth ! My  capacity  to  write  this  passage  and  your  capacity  to  read  this  passage   are  all  expressions  of  the  presence of  this    consciousness  in us.  A well  refined  mind  can  definitely  appreciate  this  consciousness  principle  in all  jivas. . Brahman  being  chetana  and  achetana  tatvam  ,  Brahman  is  in everything  ,  Brahman  is  everything.  Sarvam  brahmamayam  ,  sarvathmagam  brahma 

Friday, 9 June 2017

Atma / Brahman .part 5

              When  we  look  at  the  two  words  existent  and  tree   in the  sentence  an  existent  tree  or  a  tree  is  existing  , we  would  generally  say  that  existence is  a  property  and  tree  is  a  substance. . Vedanta  teaches  me  to  look  at  these  two  words  from a  fresh  point  of  view. . Vedanta  tells  me  that  existence   is  not  a property but    reveals  a  substance . It  is  called  Sat  Brahman. . So  existence  is  a  substance  ,and  the  word  tree  , a  noun , is not  a  substance  but  a  property. .. Similarly  the  world    is  not  a  substance  but  bundle  of  names  and  forms.  In  the  example given  in the  previous  page  ' golden  bangle ' we  have  seen  that  the  word  golden  though  an adjective  is  not  a  property  of  the  bangle  but  the  very  substance  from  which  the  bangle  is  made. golden  is  the  substance  and  bangle , which  has  no  independent  existence  of  its  own ,  is  not  a  substance  but  just  names  and  forms given to  gold . the  gold  ornament  in the  form  of a  bangle  is  given  the  name  bangle. . When  you  are  experiencing  the  bangle  , you  are  actually  experiencing  gold  ,the  fundamental  substance. 

     Whenever  I  am  experiencing  any  object  , I  experience  the  isness  in that  object  and  I  say' the  bangles  is . Existence  is  inherent  in everything ,which  I  experience  as  different  names  and  forms.  Pure  Existence  cannot  be  experienced  by  me. It  is  always  experienced  in  things , which  are  only    different  nama-rupas .  through  my  sense  organs. . The  sense  organs  cannot  reveal  Pure  Existence  but  only  through  the  medium  of  names  and  forms. . Pure  Existence  can  never  be  the  object  of  my  experience . Vedanta  tells  me  that  the'  I ',the  seeing  principle  , the  seer,  the  observer,  the  experiencer ,  'I ' the  subject  which can  never  be  the  object  of  my  experience , it  is  rather  I the  experiencer  that  observes  everything  else  in creation. . I am  the  existence  consciousness  principle  , the  only  substance  in the  world  ,while  whatever I  experience  in the  creation  is  just  simply  names  and  forms. . The  mahavakya  " tat twam asi "  already  equates  me, the  Atma, with  Brahman  ,  I  ,the  Atma  , is  the  sat-cit  principle 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Atman / Brahman- part 4

              Let  us  take  a  few  sentences  in the  English  language  to  see  how  analysing  them  can  help  us  understand  the  existence  principle. . When  we  say  "he  is  a  tall  man  " , we  understand  tall  is  an adjective  and  man  is  a  noun.   Nouns  refer  to  a  substance  ,while  the  adjective  refers to the  attributes  and  properties  of  an  object. . Let  us  take  another  sentence  "  this  is  a  golden  bangle " ,  the  word  'golden  refers  to  a  substance  ,even  if  it  is  an  adjective  and  bangle  ,though a  noun  , refers  to  a  property. or  attribute. . Considering  both  the  above  sentences  , we  arrive  at  the  rule  that  an adjective  " tall  "  in sentence  one  and  " golden  " in the  second sentence ,reveals  that  an  adjective  can  reveal  either  a  substance  or  a  property. 

       In  the  sentence  " this  is  a  golden  bangle ",  golden  is  a  substance  and  that  there  is  no  substance called  bangle  says  the  Upanishads  , it  is  gold  that  reveals  itself  in the  particular  shape  ,which  is  given  the  name  bangle.  So  even  if  bangle  is  a  noun ,it  does  not  reveal a  substance , it  reveals  only  a  form  ,which  is  a  property . This  shows  us  that  a  noun can  reveal  a  substance  or  a  property.  So  the  adjective  " tall "  reveals  a  property,  while  the  adjective  "  golden  " reveals  a  substance. Similarly  ,  the  noun  man  reveals  a substance  in the  sentence  " tall  man "  and  the  noun  " bangle  "  reveals  a  property. 

     More  examples  to  arrive  at   some  important  conclusions .  I  say  "  this  IS   a  book  , , this IS  a   man . I  refer  to  everything as  " IS " . . The  verb  " is  " refers  to  existence .  Whatever  I  experience  , is  experienced  as  existence ,  if  something  is  non-existing  , then  I  cannot  experience  it.  Now  , when  I  say  "  existent tree  "  , the  word  existent is  an adjective  and  the  word  tree  is  a  noun . We  have  to  go  one  step  deeper  and  find  out  what  type  of  adjective  the  word  existent  is  ,whether  it  reveals  a  substance  or a  property  and  what  type  of  noun  the word  tree  is , whether  it reveals  a substance  or  a  property , because  we  have  seen  in the  two  examples  given  above  that  both  noun and  adjective  can  reveal  a  substance  or  a  property.   
                We  shall  continue  the  analysis  in the  next  page. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Atma/ Brahman -part 3 .

                  Advaita  Vedanta  says the  Absolute  Reality alone  is real   and  the  world  is   not  a  substance  but  only  a  nama-rupa.    The  example  given  is  gold  and  ornaments  . Gold  is  the  only  substance  and  various  ornaments  such  as  rings,  bangles  , chain  are  only  names  and  forms  given  to  gold  . If  gold  is  removed ,then  there  remains  no  ornaments  whatsoever.   Take  the  example  of  wood  and  furniture  ,  wood  is  the  only  real  substance  here ,while  furniture  is  only  wood  made  into  different  shapes  and  forms. . Similarly  , Brahman  is  the  only  Reality  upon  which  the  world  rests  ,having  no  independent  existence  of  its  own . hence  called  mithya.  All  the  objects  that  we  experience  in this  world  are  mere  names  and  forms  . 

            Whenever  we are  experiencing  any  object ,we are  experiencing  the  isness  in the  object . We  say, ' it  is a wall. , it  is  a  table  , it  is  a  golden  bangle '   Whenever I am  experiencing  an  object  ,I  am  experiencing  the  basic  principle  Existence -the  isness  in them. . That  Existence  is  Brahman .  Just  as  the  basic  substance  gold  is  inherent  in ornaments  like  rings  , bangles  and  chain  ,  Existence  is  inherent  in all  objects. . But  this  existence  is  never  experienced  in  its  pure  form  but  only  through  the  medium  of  an  object. Pure  Existence  can  never  be  an  object  of  my  experience . Advaita  Vedanta  says  that  Pure  Existence  is  you  the  Atma   , the  subject  ,  the  experiencer  , which  can  never  be  objectified   . 

          Let  us  analyse  a  few sentences  in the  English  language  to arrive  at  the  final  Truth that  Brahman  is  Sat,  the  Existence  principle   in  the  following  pages.