(Click for Part-1 of the series)
निषेधे कृते नेति नेतीति वाक्यैः समाधिस्थितानां यदाभाति पूर्णम् ।
अवस्थात्रयातीतमद्वैतमेकं परं ब्रह्म नित्यं तदेवाहमस्मि ॥
When the whole universe is negated as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, the Poorna ‘Atma’ that remains as non-dual, one, beyond the three states, I am that supreme, eternal Brahman.
The Upanishads declare ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ which means ‘That thou art’. But here one should analyze carefully what ‘Thou’ means. Even though the student uses body & mind to receive the message of the Maha Vakya, the Tvam or ‘Thou’ here implies neither the body nor the mind of the receiver, but the consciousness principle. According to the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, by negating everything in the whole Universe as ‘not this’, ‘not this’ (Na Iti) including the body and the mind, we arrive at and are left only with the consciousness principle. This Brahman is not an object of experience or a destination to reach. It is only a matter of claiming. In line number two, Samadhi means Atma. One who negates thus, realizes the Poorna Atma.
‘Avastha Trayam’, mentioned in line 3, refer to the three states of existence – being awake (Jagrat), dreaming (Swapna) and in deep sleep (Shushupti). While being awake and in dream state, all my samsaric limitations manifest since I still am associating myself with mind and body. But when deep asleep, I shed my body-mind complex and revert to my intrinsic, original nature – that of pure Ananda. However, this state is shortlived and I am awake and back to Samsara again.
Let us understand this better by studying two associated principles.
I experience a variety of objects. While they are subject to arrival and departure, I remain. Therefore, I am different from what I experience.
When I ‘see’ or experience an object in front of me, I – the experiencer, am different from what I am experiencing. Every experienced object invariably has attributes. These experienced attributes belong to and only to the experienced object and not to the experiencer. E.g. Shabda, Sparsha, Roopa, Rasa, Gandham are all attributes of the experienced object and the experiencer is free from them.
Extending this further, body and mind too are merely objects, but experienced more intimately. In deep sleep state, both body and mind are absent (not experienced) by me, but on waking up they are the first objects I experience. Thus, while I am the experiencer, they are merely experienced objects – instruments of transaction. Realizing the fact that I am the observer and user of body-mind and not body-mind itself is called ‘Atma-anatma vichara’ or ‘Drk-drshya’
All attributes belong to the experienced objects – the world, the body or the mind. I am attributeless.
The three states of Jagrat, Swapna and Shushupti are experienced by me. Hence, by this principle, they are attributes belonging to an object – in this case that object being the mind. According to Viveka Chudamani, the three states are comparable to the Rajas, Tamas and Sattva Gunas respectively. When I transfer them onto myself, it is called ‘Tadatmya Bhava’. Only an ignorant person permanently identifies himself with these attributes, while a Jnani is beyond the three states and also referred to as ‘Turiyam’ – the fourth one (refer back to verse 3, line 3)
यदानन्दलेशैः समानन्दि विश्वं यदाभाति सत्वे तदाभाति सर्वम् ।
यदालोकने रूपमन्यत्समस्तं परं ब्रह्म नित्यं तदेवाहमस्मि ॥
That from which the whole world gets bliss, consciousness and existence, Iam that supreme, eternal Brahman.
Brahman is the sole source of Ananda. Nothing else in creation (including the mind and body which are part of Karya Prapancham) has even a drop of Ananda. Although materialistic objects or events (example, a new possession or a marriage) seem to provide happiness, for none of them Ananda is an intrinsic property.
What is the proof?
No object can give same amount of happiness to all people and at all times uniformly. A source of joy today can possibly transform into a source of grief at any moment. This illustrates that an object by itself does not intrinsically contain the real Ananda. Then why do we experience temporary happiness from objects? That is because the phenomenon of happiness has been misunderstood. E.g. when a dog bites a bone, the bone blisters its tongue but the dog enjoys the taste of the blood assuming the bone to be the source of it. Similarly when mind experiences Ananda, however temporary, it is nothing but the reflected (Pratibimba) Ananda from Atma. Conducive circumstances provided by external factors temporarily calm the mind and it is able to experience some of this reflected happiness or Atmananda. And we make the mistake of associating the source of this happiness to the external trigger. How can I experience original Ananda and not just reflected Ananda? I cannot experience, I can only realize and claim. Example, I can experience only a reflection of my own face (in a mirror), I cannot ‘experience’ my own face. I can only realize and claim it.
Like happiness, the world also borrows its existence (Sat) from Brahman. So when we say the world is existent, it implies that it is borrowed. Same goes for the body and mind, which are also part of the Karya creation. And like existence, consciousness is also borrowed by the world from Brahman. Therefore, the world, body and mind are all Nama-Roopa, only borrowing existence, consciousness and happiness from Brahman and reflecting these like a mirror. Therefore Brahman is not in the world, but I am the Brahman experiencing the world and the reflected Satchitananda. If the Nama-Roopa mirror dissolves, the reflected ‘Sat-Chit-Ananda’ dissolves but the original Brahman, which is Me, remains.
अनन्तं विभुं निर्विकल्पं निरीहं शिवं सङ्गहीनं यदोंकारगम्यम् ।
निराकारमत्युज्ज्वलं मृयुहीनं परं ब्रह्म नित्यं तदेवाहमस्मि ॥
The Infinite, all-pervading, desire-less, action-less, auspicious, attachment-less, attainable through the Pranava Om, formless, resplendent, immortal, supreme, eternal Brahman – I am that
Some more descriptions of Brahman are given in this verse which can be understood if we remember the previous descriptions we had namely Brahman is Karana, Eka, Saara, Nitya, Satya, and Ananda.
- Anantam – infinite, limitless (already explained in verse #2, line #3 as Parccheda Heenam)
- Vibhum – Any Karanam is called Vibhu:
Karanam alone appears in the form of varieties of Karyam. Vividham bhavati iti vibhu:
- Nirvikalpam – Without any division. Consciousness is all-pervading like space. According to Vedanta, we cannot even have the division in the form of consciousness and matter i.e. Atma and Anatma. Even though we make this division in the initial stages (Adhya Ropa Prakaranam), in the final stages (Apavada prakaranam) of Vedanta, this division is negated. Actually matter does not exist separate from Consciousness – ‘Consciousness and matter’ is a wrong expression. Matter is nothing but misunderstood Consciousness. Understood matter is consciousness. In the eyes of a wise person, there is no world other than Consciousness. Therefore, ‘Nirvikalpam.’
- Nireeham – Iha has got two meanings – desire (Kama) and action (Karma), Brahman is free from desire and action.
- Shivam – Means ‘Mangala Swaroopam’ (as per Mandukya Upanishad, Shantam-Shivam-Advaitam) Brahman is of the nature of auspiciousness.
- Sangaheenam – free from all contacts or relations. Why Brahman does not have any contact or relationship? Simple logic is that there is no second thing to Brahman, so there is no question of striking a relationship.
- Yat Omkara Gamyam – that which is revealed by meditating on Omkara. In Mandukya Upanishad, Om is split into four components – A, U, M and silence. A represents wakeful state, U represents dream state and M represents deep sleep. The silence that follows represents Turiyam or the Avastha Traya Sakshi. Thus through Omkara Vichara, Brahman is revealed. Omkara gamyam = Turiyam.
- Nirakaram – Shapeless or formless, all-pervading like space, Chidakasha Roopa.
- Ati Ujjwalam – brilliant, revealer of everything. This we can understand in the following manner. Consciousness, first reveals the mind. When I wake up, I become aware of my mind. Consciousness lends sentiency to the insentient mind. Then, the mind with borrowed consciousness reveals the sense organs, and sense organs become sentient. Light of the Atma first goes to the mind, and from there to the sense organs, and from the sense organs to the world. Therefore, I am aware of the mind first, then I am aware of the sense organs, and then I am aware of the world through the sense organs. Therefore, consciousness is said to be the light of all lights or ‘Ati Ujjwalam’.
- Mrtyu heenam – immortal-eternal-free from death. By claiming my immortality and accepting the body’s mortality, I overcome the fear of death.
यदानन्दसिन्धौ निमग्नः पुमान् स्यादविद्याविलासः समस्तप्रपञ्चः ।
तदा न स्फुरत्यद्भुतं यन्निमित्तं परं ब्रह्म नित्यं तदेवाहमस्मि ॥
That ocean of bliss, immersed in which a wise person realizes the existence of the world as a play of ignorance, and the cause of which is the supreme, eternal Brahman, I am that.
In the first two lines of Verse 4, we saw that like a bangle made out of gold, the world is merely a Karyam that borrows its existence from the Karanam, Brahman. The first three lines of verse eight are a repetition of the same concept. I will consider a product to exist only until I discover the Karanam. The moment Karanam is discovered, the product will cease to exist on its own and one can realize its borrowed existence or in other words, non-existence. So when a wise person (Puman, going through Shravana-Mana-Nidhidhyasanam) gets absorbed (Nimagna) in the ocean of bliss (Ananda Sindhu) the Karana Brahman, then (Tada) he understands that the entire world (Samasta Prapancham) even though wonderful (Adbhutam) is actually an abode of ignorance (Avidya Vilasa) that does not exist by itself (Na Sphurati) but due to that Brahman alone (Ya Nimittam) which is the same as Me.
स्वरूपानुसन्धानरूपां स्तुतिं यः पठेदादराद् भक्तिभावो मनुष्यः ।
शृणोतीह वा नित्यमुद्युक्तचित्तो भवेद्विष्णुरत्रैव वेदप्रमाणात् ॥
The person who reads this hymn of praise named Swaroopanusandhanam with sincerity and devotion or listens to it with an alert mind becomes Vishnu (Brahman) here itself. The Vedas are the authority for this.
This Stotra (stuti) which is a form of self-meditation on the meditator – that person (Yah Manushyah) who studies with reverence (Bhakti Bhava) or listens to it from someone else (Shrunoti Iha), regularly/every day (Nityam) with total commitment (Adyukta Chittah), this individual will become Vishnu (Sah Vishnu Bhavet), This is the guarantee of the Vedas.
Thus concludes Svarupanusandhaaaashtakam
(This is the final part of the two-part article based on a series of talks on Swarupa Ashtakam by Swami Paramarthananda)