Dakshinamurthy Stothram – Sloka 4 – Introduction – Part 3 – Throwing some light on “Light”! – Vedantic Concepts

In our attempt to understand the relationship between “being” and “knowing”, after answering a questionnaire, we conducted two experiments last week; in the first we threw light inside a dark room with the help of a mirror and sun and in the second experiment we spread the light from a oil wick lamp through a “holi” pot in a dark room on five selected objects.

Let us now see the Vedantic Concepts behind these experiments.

The concepts behind the first experiment

In the first experiment, the Sun as the powerful light source ( Maha deepam) is comparable to the ātmā. Just as Sun has got its own light, ātmā has got its own “cit”-consciousness; it is self-evident because one does not need either a Sun or a mirror to see oneself. Remember the Part 1 Blog of Questions and Answers (If someone asks you when you are in a dark room “Are you there?” what response do we give? Yes “I am here”). And the mind of every individual is comparable to the mirror. The entire world is comparable to the dark room.

Now the whole world is seen because of two factors. What are the factors? The mirror_like mind and the Sun_like ātmā. This ātmā and Mind together, both of them are together responsible for the experience of the world. One can view this from two perspectives.

1. You can say mirror, backed by the Sun, illumines the dark room. Similarly, we can say the mind experiences everything backed by ātmā. How the mind borrows consciousness from ātmā; just as the mirror borrows brightness from the Sun. Mind borrows brightness and that mind illumines the world. So here the emphasises is on the mind alone. In Vedānta, when the emphasis is given to the mind, that is called प्रमात् (pramaatR) , the consciousness-backed-mind is called, the knower; and mind the knower, expereinces the world backed by ātmā. Here the emphasis is to the mind, because that is the subject.

2. In the second perspective, you do not say the mind illumines the world. ātmā, the consciousness illumines the world; but you have to acknowledge the role of the mirror. Mirror is very important, therefore you use the expression; through the reflecting medium of mind; through the instrumentality of the mind, ātmā alone illumines the world. And when the instrument is removed, what happens? When the mirror is removed, Sun will continue to shine; but it cannot illumine the dark room; the room will again go dark; Similarly, when the mind mirror is there, ātmā illumines the world. When the mind mirror is closed, the world is dark, not because ātmā has turned inert; but the mind-medium is closed. And therefore the world goes dark.

3. When do you close it? The answer is “During sleep”. What happens to ātmā during sleep.? ātmā continues to be self-evident consciousness, the light like the Sun; but the world goes dark because the medium of mind is closed; even during bright daylight, if the mind closes down, it will be dark.

4. Therefore, who is the illuminator of everything? ātmā, the eternal light. And therefore, whenever you are knowing anything, every knowledge indriya jñānam (śabda jñānam, sparśa jñānam, rūpa jñānam); every perception pre-supposes (indirectly reveals) the presence of ātmā; you do not require a separate proof for the existence of ātmā; Every object that we see in the dark room is thanks to the presence of Sun like ātmā. Even when there is no object, you say nothing is known; that nothing is known is known. That nothing is known is known, again because of the presence of consciousness. And therefore, Sankaracharya says; जानाशम jānāmi; jānāmi means, I know; This is called svayam prakāśatvam of ātmā; self-evidence of ātmā;

So in every perception, I, the ātmā, is independently self evident; and anātmā the object is dependently evident; In every perception, I the ātmā, is independently evident like the sun, and the anātmā is dependently evident like the dark room. This is the learning from the first experiment.

The Concepts behind the Second Experiment

Now let us come to second experiment with “holi” pot.

The room where the lamp is burning is the material world, full of ignorance, known as māyā. Pot is the human body. The Atma/Self that exists in the body is the light. The five holes in the pot are five sensory organs. Experience of the sensory organs is the five objects placed on the holes. They are śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa, gandha (five tanmātra-s or rudimentary subtle elements). Amala/Gooseberry is the taste (rasa); Veena is the sound (śabda); musk is the smell (gandha); gem by form (rūpa) and touch (sparśa) by the fan. The earthen lamp that holds the oil and wick is the biological system of the human body. Wick is the mind. Oil that makes the wick to burn is the prāṇa. With all these things, perception of the material world is not possible. Without that light, nothing can be perceived. Similarly, without the Self, nothing can be experienced.

We saw in Part 1 of the Introduction, the process of sighting/experiencing an object. We also termed it as व्रित्त्त पररणाम vritti pariṇāma. Vritti or thought-wave is a modification of the mind through a process. Just as waves and bubbles arise from the surface of the ocean, so also these Vrittis arise from the surface of the mind. The function of a Vritti in the mind is to cause removal of the veil of ignorance covering objects by reflecting the light from the ātmā i.e., only lend existence by throwing light. Gnanam is a process of throwing light (That is why in Tamil they call both the light & and the process of throwing light to uncover Gnana as விளக்கு & விளக்குதல்/விளக்க உரை and not allowing it to escape through the indriyas ( the pot with 5 holes and 5 items).

Every wave of thought in the mind (vritti pariṇāma) is illumined by an awareness – the maha deepa. This maha deepa goes out through thro 5 indriyas and get back to the reflecting medium – mind for “I know” (jaanaami ithi) – The learning from the Second Experiment.

Eg of maha deepa – you are able to see a star million miles away. The kind of illumination that you were able to put it on the star. Amount of illumine that you have put – that is maha deepa.

We should understand that the infinite consciousness by itself never illumines because it is illumination itself like the Sun. It is an upakaranaa or upadhi. It needs a medium to illumine. The medium borrows the light and reflect on the object. The mind borrows light from “me” temporarily and throws it on the object thro the 5 indriyas thro which it escapes.. That is called perception/gnana. The light of consciousness, when reflected at an inner equipment, reaches the object to illumine them.

Here is a pictorial summary.

வேதாந்தத்தின் இக்கருத்துக்களை கவனித்தோமானால், அன்பர் திரு. அப்பாதுரை அவர்கள், வளைதளத்தில் பதிவிட்ட நசிகேதன் கதையில் (கடோபனிஷத் தமிழாக்கம்) ஒரு கவிதை (87) ஞாபகத்திற்கு வருகிறது {http://nasivenba.blogspot.com/2012/03/blog-post_23.html}.

கதிருங் கணப்பொறியுங் கங்குல் கலையுங்

கதிர்க்குங் கணங்களுங் கங்குல் – கதிநாடிக்

கட்கிலியைக் கண்பெறுங் காலையிற் காரிரியக்

கிட்டுங் ககனக் கனல்.

திரவனும் மின்னலும் இருளே. நிலவும் ஒளிவீசும் விண்மீன்களும் இருளே. தன்னறிவைத் தேடி, எளிதில் புலப்படாத ஆன்மாவை அகத்தே அறியும் வேளையில் அண்டத்தின் இருளகற்றும் ஒளி பிறக்கும். அங்கே சூரியனும் பிரகாசிப்பதில்லை; சந்திரனும் தாரகைகளும் பிரகாசிப்பதில்லை; மின்னல்களும் ஏன் தீயும் பிரகாசிப்பதில்லை. அவன் பிரகாசிக்கும் பொழுது எல்லாம் பிரகாசிக்கின்றன; அவனுடைய ஒளியால் இவை எல்லாமே பிரகாசிக்கின்றன. வடமொழிப் பாடலில் ‘அவன்’ என்று குறிப்பிடப்படுவது ஆன்மா. சூட்சுமக் குறிப்பு.

Interestingly, in my exchanges on “Existence” in Twitter last week, I was fortunate to receive an excellent quote from Mr. R. Prabhu. This is from one of the verses of a very well known Siddha – Sivavaakiyar சிவவாக்கியர் which reflects the relationship between the “being” and the “knowing”.

இல்லைஇல்லை என்றுநீர் இயம்புகின்ற ஏழைகாள்,

இல்லைஎன்று நின்றதொன்றை இல்லை என்னலாகுமோ

இல்லைஅல்ல ஒன்றுமல்ல இரண்டும்ஒன்றி நின்றதை

எல்லைகண்டு கொண்டபேர் இனிப்பிறப்பது இல்லையே

With this understanding let us now see the Sloka No 4 in the next blog.