We are used to a “question paper based exam followed by practicals” – Aren’t we? Exactly; that is what we are going to do now in our study of Dakshinamurthy Stothram, Sloka 4.
In the previous introductory blog, we saw through sets of questions and answers, as to how the Self (ātmā) is comparable to the “maha deepam” the great light source. Let us continue the conceptual exploration through two experiments.
Experiment 1 – Sun, Dark Room & Mirror Experiment:
Place some objects inside a pitch-dark room. On a bright & sunny day, position a mirror outside at an angle; open the window of the dark room and try reflecting the sunlight through the window into the dark room by adjusting the angle of the mirror. What do you observe? You see that the objects which are otherwise invisible are illumined by the patch of sun light entering the dark room via the mirror and the window.
The question is: who or what illumines the dark room? The mirror or the Sun?
Suppose we say mirror, can we try the same experiment during midnight; keep the mirror at the same angle or at any other angle and try to illumine. The mirror is not able to provide light. So, we cannot say mirror is the illuminator.
If we say that the Sun alone illumines the dark room and not the mirror, then, what will happen if we remove the mirror? Again, the room will continue to be dark, because if the mirror is not there, with a roof over the room, the sunlight can not directly penetrate in the room and illumine. Therefore, mere Sun alone cannot illumine like mere mirror cannot illumine. Therefore, a combination of both the Sun and the mirror together illumine the objects of the dark room.
Pictorially the above experiment can be summarised as under
So, what are we trying to get out of this experiment. What is the illation here?
Experiment 2 – The “holi” pot and lamp Experiment
Light and place a bright lamp (wick lamp with burning oil) on the surface of the earth within a room which is densely dark. Place a pot having five holes with its mouth down over the lamp. Outside of that pot place (in front of each of the hole), an amala (நெல்லிக்காய்) fruit, veena, musk, good gem and a fan.
Now the question is about the perception of the collection of separate objects. Is it attributed to any of the following viz. Lamp or Oil or Wick or Pot or the objects themselves? What is the significance of the 5 holes and the five objects ? Why only these objects ?
The lamp is not able to directly illumine the objects, because it is covered by a pot with five holes; Therefore cooperation of pot is required in the sense that we need a pot with holes and not just the pot. In a lighter vein, therefore we require a ‘holi pot’.
The pot with holes alone can’t illumine and we require the lamp. The holes without the lamp within, cannot also illumine the ibject.
Same arguments go for the oil, the wick and the objects. None of them are self-illumine too and only those objects which fall within the range of the beam of light that comes out of the holes are perceived.
So, what are we trying to get out of this experiment. What is the illation here?
Well, “Practicals” are over. What did we learn?
Let us get into the details in the blog next week.
We saw in the previous Sloka 3, the vedantic concept of conjoined existence and light in perception of objects and understood that both “being” and “knowing” are nothing but the same (tat tvam asi). In Sloka 4, Adi Sankara throws more light on the “Light”.
Before we venture into the Sloka, I am going to start this blog with three sets of questions.
Can you see yourselves in broad day light ?
Can you see your friend in a crowd in the park in the day light ?
Can you see yourselves in a pitch dark room ?
Can you see your friend in the same pitch dark room?
Do you need a torch to see Sun in the daytime.
Can you see the stars and constellations on a clear night?
These are very simple and innocuous questions. Answering these shouldn’t pose difficulties.
Yes. I can see myself in broad light.
Yes. I searched and can see my friend in a crowd in the park.
No. I cant see myself physically but I know that I am there.
No. I can’t see my friend in the pitch dark room. I need light.
I don’t need a torch to see the Sun in daylight. It is all powerful.
Yes. I am able to see stars and constellations on a clear night.
Explanatory Notes for the answers
Now let us amplify the answers given.
Suppose if I ask whether you have seen your friend in the crowd, you will have to look around to see whether he has come or not; which means that a process is required. But when I ask you the question, are you there, you do not take any time, or even thinking. Even before the process of thinking starts, “I am here” is an evident fact.
I don’t need a light to say that I am inside a dark room since I know that I am there. It is self evident as indicated above. But I need a process and a light to see anyone else.
I don’t need an external light to see the Sun in daylight. It is the most powerful light source. It is a “maha deepam”. But the strange fact is I can see the stars which are millions of miles away in the sky on a clear night. Perhaps I have a powerful source of light inside me (a maha deepam) that helps me to see the stars. Maybe ! I don’t know.
Preamble to the Vedic Philosophy behind the “Light”
Apparently in these three sets of questions and answers, the underlying focus is on light and sight. Let us now throw some light on this light.
An object in the world becomes known at a particular time by our special effort. If I have to see my friend in a crowd at the park, it is an event in space and time. I have to turn in that direction and my mind should be behind the eye. Or the eyes will not see. And the light should fall on the crowd; and then a thought should take place in the mind; and that is called vritti pariṇāma, and when that takes place alone, the knowledge of my friend takes place; as an event, in the mind, because of the operation of the sense organ called eye. So, the steps involved in this light throwing process called mano vritti is as under:
1. Some object is there.
2. Light falls on it.
3. You see it through your effort with your eyes.
4. It translates that it is other than you
5. You recognize it through something.
6. It forms a wave thought
7. That gets reflected in a medium to lend existence
The process is nothing complicated. Simple. Isn’t it? But then how do you say “I am here” when you are in a pitch dark room and someone asks you “Where are you?” You even say sometimes “Don’t switch on the light. I am relaxing”. Strange ! Are you self luminous? Exactly. This is called svayam prakāśatvam of ātmā; self-evidence of ātmā; this is a very important concept in vedānta. In India we have people named as Swayam Prakash.
The core of an Individual known as ātmā is not only svayam prakāś but also a “maha deepam” – a great light.
In a lighter vein that is why if we see several Indian movies particularly the historical/mythological ones, you will see in death scenes, a light moves up from the body towards the heaven. We see obituary statements like “The light in our life has merged with the Almighty” even today.
With this introductory understanding that core of all of us viz., the inner consciousness known as the ātmā is compared to a maha deepam (the light like Sun) in, let us proceed toward our goal of understanding the Sloka 4 where Adi Sankara again comes out with simple experiments to drive home the Vedantic Concepts.
To Him in the Effulgent Form Facing the South, whose light, which is Existence itself, shines forth entering the objects which are almost non-existent—to Him incarnate in the Guru who instructs the disciples in the Vedic text “That thou art;”—to Him who being realized there will be no more return to the ocean of samsâra, to Him (Siva) be this bow!
From the previous blogs, it is clear that the integration or Aikyam happens as the Paramātma gets into an instrument as “Existence” & “Light” (Paramātma/Isvara & Jiva/Consciousness/Self respectively) or otherwise as “being” and “knowing”.
திருமூலர், திருமந்திரத்தில் சிவன் ஒளி வடிவானவன் சீவனும் ஒளி வடிவானவன். சீவ ஒளி சிவ ஒளியில் கலந்தால் பிறவி நீங்கும் என்பதை, #2681 பதியில்
ஒளியை அறியில் உருவும் ஒளியும்
ஒளியும் உருவம் அறியில் உருவாம்
ஒளியின் உருவம் அறியில் ஒளியே
ஒளியும் உருக உடனிருந் தானே.
சீவன் ஆன்மஒளியை அறிந்து கொண்டால், சீவனின் உருவம் ஆகிய உடல் ஒளிந்து கொள்ளும். சீவன் ஒளிந்து நிற்கும் தன் உடலை அறிந்து கொண்டால், சீவனின் பிறவிகள் தொடரும். ஆன்மஒளியின் உருவம் சீவன் அறிந்து கொண்டால், சீவன் உருவம் ஒளிமயம் ஆகிவிடும்.சீவன் ஆன்ம ஒளியில் தோய்ந்து நின்றால், சீவனுக்குச் சிவன் அங்கு விளங்குவான் என விளக்குகிறார்.
Now let us see the meaning of the Sloka in detail
First Line: यस्यैवस्फुरणंसदात्मकमसत्कल्पार्थकंभासते साक्षात्तत्त्वमसीति
यस्यैव स्फुरणं (Yasya-Eva sphuraṇaṃ):
Here it means the throbbing/pulsating/vibrations of THAT alone, implying that of the pure Consciousness (Eternal Awareness) which is nothing but paramātmā’s sphuraṇaṃ (Recollect the vibrations from the emptiness when we explore matter as per modern science as explained in the previous introductory blogs)
सदात्मकम: manifestation in the world is sadātmakam is in the form of Existence, in every object. paramātmā‘s manifestion in the world is in the form of ISness in everything. ISness part is paramātmā – the formless; pure, all-pervading ISness is the manifestation of paramātmā.
असत्कल्पार्थकं: asat means non-existence & kalpa means as good as or almost; artha means object of desire. And where is this manifestation available? – located in/manifested in the medium of artha; artha means every object; And what type of object? असत कल्प asat kalpa; Asat Kalpa means Mithya; an unreal thing is called asat kalpa.
bhāsate means is experienceable for all (appear in the mind). It is exactly like the sunlight is experienceable for all of us and upon every object as reflected sunlight; manifest sunlight is experienceable on every body. Similarly, vedāntaḥ says when you say table IS; we are experiencing the formed chair, which is soaked in formless existence.
We just saw यस्यैव स्फुरणं सदात्मकमसत्कल्पार्थकं भासते – that paramātmā’s vibe is always experienced by all in every “otherwise as good as non-existent” object of desire as a reflection of the all-pervading pure ISness, the eternal formless Existence
Now the question is: How can I experience that existence in its pure form? I am experiencing the Existence; along with object, adulterated existence; I am enjoying, but I want to appreciate or experience unadulterated pure ISness; the formless, eternal, all pervading existence.
Then the Upanishad says, साक्षात्तत्त्वमसीति (Saakssaat-Tat-Tvam-Asi-Iti): that pure Existence you will never experience. You can experience only adulterated existence; the pure existence cannot be experienced;
त्तत्त्वमसी: Why cant Pure Existence be experienced? ? tat tvam asi; pure existence is none other than you; What type of You? The formless consciousness principle; “You” means not the body, body is also not pure existence; body is adulterated existence with body nama rupa; When I say You, you cannot take the mind also; mind is also not pure existence; it is existence associated with mind nama rupa. You cannot even take the thought because thought is also not pure existence; but it is existence associated with thought form. Then what type of You? You, the pure consciousness, which is the experiencer of the thought, which is witness of the body; witness of the mind; witness of the thought. That I, is the sākṣi caitanyam, am the pure existence; And the sākṣi caitanyam is called jīvātma; and Aham, the sākṣi caitanyam jīvātma eva suddha satta rupa paramātma asmi. This is called Aham Brahma Asmi.
साक्षात्त: And how will it be? the pure existence and consciousness without any nama rupa; how will it look like? I am not able to conceive at all. Better you do not conceive. If we conceive, again it will become an object, associated with some nama rupa. If you need some examples which are nearest to the pure existence-consciousness, we have only two examples:
one is the space; space is not pure existence-consciousness; but it is the nearest example for pure sat chit ātma; that is one example.
The second example is: You in the deep sleep state is the nearest example for pure existence-consciousness without name and form.
And therefore, try to conceive of space; try to conceive of yourselves in deep sleep; And similar to that is I; the pure existence-consciousness. And what is the significance of the word, sākṣāt? It has a very important technical significance, normally when we describe something, the words give only the indirect knowledge; that is called verbal knowledge; indirect knowledge and has to be converted into direct experience later; the book knowledge is converted into experiential knowledge; that experiential knowledge is अपरॊक्ष ज्ञानम् aparokṣa jñānam. Normally, words give indirect knowledge which has to be converted into direct knowledge, by effort. This is our general experience. Here Śankarācārya says in the case of Brahman, these two divisions are not there; because paramātmā is Existence; Existence is consciousness is all the time self-evidently experinced;
वेदवचसा यो बोधयत्याश्रितान् : And Śankarācārya says that this is what is the Guru told through Veda “Veda-Vacasaa Yo Bodhayaty”. The Guru directly reveals to you with the help of Vedas that paramārtha which is nothing but “You”. Guru has the knowledge, he did not get through intuition, वेद वचसा veda vachasa; He got it through the vedas, taught by his guru; And how did he get the knowledge? Not thru intuitution; by śabda pramāṇa handed down by the guru; when did the whole thing start? it started when the creation started; and when did creation start; अनाश्रधः anādi; and therefore as anadi as the creation, is the parampara of teaching. This teaching tradition is also anādi; with the help of this tradition, the guru reveals; that is why in our tradition, always the śāstra or parampara is given more importance than the person; in our tradition, no single आचार्यः ācāryaḥ is given more importance;
So far in the first two lines we have learnt what Adi Śankarācārya was saying. Now what do I get out of this knowledge? Till now I thought that I am the physical body, the formed body, now I have learned that I am not the body with consciousness, but I am the consciousness, temporarily functioning through the body. Not only I am the consciousness, lending sentiency to the body, I am the existence lending existence to the world also. Now where am I? I alone give two things; caitanyam to the body; existence to the world; And having given these two, the body becomes subject, world becomes object, all the transactions takes place, All the transactions are possible because I lend Sat to the world, and I lend Cit to the body; you imagine dream. In the dream individual, I alone lend consciousness to the dream individual. I alone lend existence to the dream world; Lending Sat and Cit I allow the dream-drama to go on. Similarly, by lending Sat and Cit, I allow the world drama to go on. Remember the first Sloka viśvandarpaṇa dṛśyamāna nagarī tulyaṃ nijāntargataṃ.
The next question that automatically comes to or mind is What is the advantage of this vision? To answer this question, let us see the third line and understand what the Acharya is trying to convey.
यत्साक्षात्करणात: Śankarācārya says; yassākṣātkaraṇāt; Yath again means paramātmā, paramātma sākṣātkaraṇāt, by this अपरोक्ष ज्ञानम aparokṣa jñānam, this direct knowledge of paramātmā, that I am the सत्त्चदात्माः satcidātmāḥ, the advantage is:
पुनरावृत्तिर्भवाम्भोनिधौ Punaraavrttir-Bhavaam-Bho-Nidhau): No more Reappearance in the Ocean of Wordly Existence
(Punaraavrtti) = Return, Reappearance, Re-Birth
पुनरावृत्ति न भवेत punarāvrittīḥ na bhavet . There is no question of punar janma itself for that jnani. punarāvrittīḥ is not there for that jnani. Where?
भवाम्भोतनधौ bhavāmbhonidhau. – भव (Bhava) = Worldly Existence; भोस् (Bhos) = A particle of sorrow; निधि (Nidhi) = Sea. It means the ocean of becoming, the ocean of change, the ocean of अत्स्र्, जार्ते, वधयर्े, द्धवपररणमते, अपक्षक्षर्ते, द्धवनिर्तत asthi, jāyate, vardhathe, vipariṇamate, apakṣiyate, vinaśayati; in that ocean of change, this person is not born;
Thus, this Sloka brings out the Maha Vakya Tat Tvam Asi clearly.
From the previous blogs we understood the concepts behind the word Existence and Light viz., “Being & Knowing” – The Tat and the Tvam parts; the Paramatma and Jivatma. We saw with examples of an existing Table and analysis that both are two kinds of emptiness. We can say that there are two kinds of emptiness; one called being and the other called knowing. What is the difference between the substance of vibration (being) and the substance of knowing? Where is the line between these two emptiness.
Initially, we may think that the line between the two emptiness is just outside us. As we contemplate and meditate with the help of a Guru, we will experience that there is no dividing line: It is not there. This is the great discovery of the nondual (advaita) understanding. The reality i.e, the emptiness of the knowledge of pure consciousness (I) called time and the reality of emptiness of the matter as the substance of vibration (you the object) called as space are empty and identical. These are two different shades of water colors on the same paper (like the two parts of the faces in the art work done by my 8 year old grandson in the image shown above). This is an experiential recognition as we meditate on the subject. This is called the Jivatma-Paramatma Aikyam.
So jīvātma is pure Consciousness, paramātma is pure Existence. Then vedāntaḥ says this pure Existence which lends existence to the world, this pure Consciousness which lends consciousness to the body, both this pure Existence and pure Consciousness are one and the same. So, Existence is Consciousness; Consciousness is Existence. And it is this Existence-Consciousness which makes the body sentient; and which makes the world existent. And this recognition of the oneness of the existence and consciousness is jīvātma paramātma êkya jnānam, and Śankarācārya says, whichever Guru manages to successfully communicate, this identity of this pure Existence and Pure consciousness, to that Guru, who is Dakṣiṇāmurty., My namaskarams. This is going to be the essence of this third Sloka which we will see in the next blog.
Here are the pictorial representations of our learning on Sat & Cit (Existence and Consciouness) (Courtesy: vedantastudents.com)
In the previous blog we saw that there are two ways of perceiving an object like the example of the table. “ I see it and therefore the table exists” and “the table exists and therefore I see it”. According to Adi Sankaracharya’ Advaita philosophy, knowledge of the world is knowledge of the thoughts of the objects of the world, or viṣayākāravṛittijñana. When knowledge is thus based on the modification of the mind, the objects will definitely be external to you. The knowledge of the world, being viṣayākāra vṛitti, is therefore obtained through the senses. Therefore He also advocates that yad-dṛśyam tat naśyam—that which is perceivable is perishable. I was reminded by my “Twitter Friends” of a wonderful Tamil proverbs that reflect this: விண்டவர் கண்டிலார்….கண்டவர் விண்டிலார்; கண்ணால் காண்பதும் பொய் காதால் கேட்பதும் பொய் தீர விசாரிப்பதே மெய்
Nevertheless we also understood that we need both “Existence” and “Light” for our knowledge of the objects and hence the world.
From the scientific perspective, we know that light is an energy radiation. No single answer to the question “What is light?” satisfies the many contexts in which light is experienced, explored, and exploited. The physicist is interested in the physical properties of light, the artist in an aesthetic appreciation of the visual world. Through the sense of sight, light is a primary tool for perceiving the world and communicating within it. Light from the Sun warms the Earth, drives global weather patterns, and initiates the life-sustaining process of photosynthesis. On the grandest scale, light’s interactions with matter have helped shape the structure of the Universe.
Vedantic Treatise on Light
Imagine a situation where you are just entering a room and the light goes off. Do you need light to identify the objects in the room? Yes, surely. Remember you are an object too. Do you need light to identify yourselves? No. Why?
When we discuss this topic, one important Eka Sloki (Single Sloka) of Adi Śankarā is to be understood. Adi Śankarā answers these two questions by a single sloka. The Sloka is presented as a dialogue between a teacher (Guru) and student (Sishya), in response to a question by the student on realization of self. The Sloka, its Tamil & English Translations are given below:
Guru: How do you see (What is that light/power which helps you see?) Sishya: I see with the help of sunlight
Guru: How do you see in the night? Sishya: I see with the help of a lamp
Guru: Let that be so. How do you see the light? Sishya: With my eyes.
Guru: How do you see when tour eyes are closed ? Sishya: It is with my intellect
Guru: What helps you see (know) that intellect? Sishya: This is me (me as pure consciousness)
Guru: (Indeed) You are that supreme light Sishya: I realize that I am (immediate experience for the disciple)
So, the following facts about the “Light” have to be understood:
1. “Light” is not a part, product or property of the object
2. “Light” is formless
3. “Light” is independent, enlivens the object and makes it sentient.
4. “Light” is beyond the object and is “Sarvaghataha”.
5. “Light” will be there even after the object is destroyed. Once object goes, “Light” is not recognizable as the recognizing medium is gone
Light is Cit, the Chaitanyam
Let us go back to the previous blog where we saw that an object in the ultimate analysis of matter, either through the inward looking Vedantic route or through the outward looking scientific route (as explained in the blogs that covered Sloka 2 on Creation) is nothing but emptiness which takes the shape of vibrations and comes into existence. If this vibration is not known then we will not know that it “is”. So there is also this knowing. To visualise this knowing we add a spatial reference to it. If we further contemplate on this existence of this vibration suspended as it were in the “knowing” spatial field, we learn that this spatial knowing field is also empty of objects. This is the second kind of emptiness: the emptiness of pure consciousness. This emptiness is “cit” चित् (chaitanyam) is pure (independent from body & mind) and is the Jivātma, the Self-awareness त्वम् (Tvam) and at the worldly level is known as visibility (bhaati भाति)
We saw “sat” Existence earlier. We now saw “cit” Light. In either of these two studies, there is a basic question that is not addressed yet and needs to be looked into. That question is “How have existence and light come to be conjoined with all existing things?”.
The answer to this question will come up in the next blog.
1. What is that ? That is a table. That table exists in that room.
2. How do we know that ? We know because we EXPERIENCE the table. Please note that a non existent table cannot be experienced by us. So the “IS” statement about the table is endowed with Existence which is proved by our experience.
3. How do we experience the table? By seeing.
4. How do we see ? We see through our eyes.
5. What happens when you see? Here are two possible explanations:
1. There exists a table and there is light available for us to see the table. The light is the manifest and the table is the manifesting medium for the light. Note that when the manifest, the light is removed, the table does not appear to exist. When we remove the table, the surviving light is not re-cognised, not because of its absence, but because of the lack of a manifesting medium. So, for an object to manifest, we need two basic inputs. The existence and light. when light rays fall on retina, light rays are carried via optical fibres and the image is projected on cerebral cortex. An inverted image is formed; this can be termed as sensation. Brain then tries to understand the image with the information it already has and tries to interpret the image by giving a meaningful suggestion. Here the suggestion given is ‘this is a table’. So, a sensation and a meaningful suggestion (together called as perception) defines that object called Table. This is one perspective.
2. Our shāshtra-s explain this in a slightly different way. Our shāshtras say, that mind travels through senses up to the object, touches it, feels it and then gives meaningful suggestion. The explanation is based on mental level.With this in mind, when mind senses anything via five senses, it immediately tries to find a meaningful explanation and tries to arrive at conclusion. When the object is not clearly perceived or seen, mind tries to correlate it with the nearest object that is stored in mind. Mind keeps imagining until it reaches an acceptable conclusion. It superimposes the nearest image on the unclear object. This is the second perspective.
Whichever perspective is followed, one thing is very clear and common to both viz., we need light and an existence to categorically say that an object exists.
Let us understand Existence first
Features of Existence
Existence is a mystery for philosophers; And vedāntaḥ has got a unique perception regarding the nature of existence.
Adi Sankara makes it clear that Existence of a sentient object (table in our example, a pot, a rope or the World) is nijaanthargatham. Remember the first Sloka (Viswam Darpana …). It has its being only in this atman alone. So when you see an object, the object consciousness is atma. An object (pot, chair, world etc) cannot reveal itself to me unless the object consciousness is present. So when I say table , it means the table consciousness is. This ISness is the satta, the sat Atma. The true Atma. This “IS” is different from the normal “is” which we always associate with time. When we say an object exists, the existence in our buddhi is in respect of time. Whereas in the case of ISness, the Consciousness IS (consciousness Existence) is fixed and objects are the variables (pot, chair, world etc). These variables does not exist in the absence of my consciousness Existence.
This consciousness Existence is presented by vedāntaḥ with features, which are exactly like the description of consciousness. Let us see them now:
1. An object exists because I experience its Existence. Hence Existence is not a part, a product or property of the world of objects. When I say the table is, the “IS”ness is not the property of the table. IS not part of the table. It is not even a product of the table. But it is something experienced by me; because I say it IS the table.
2. Existence is an independent reality. Existence pervades and makes every object existent.
3. Existence is not limited by the boundaries of the object. When you say table IS, vedāntaḥ says ISness is not only in the table, it extends beyond the table. It is all pervading sarvagatam; this is the third.
4. Existence exists even after the destruction of the objects which it enlivens; Which means what? ISness will continue to exist, even after the Table is destroyed. Table goes. ISness of the Table does not go. Existence is eternal nityam.
Existence is Sat ; Existence is Tat
Therefore, “IS”ness is not a property of any one particular object; all objects share this in common. It has no objective definable qualities. This is the first kind of emptiness as we meditate on isness. This emptiness takes the shape of vibrations and comes as “existence” within the time and space domain. Contemporary physics confirms this if you look into the nature of matter i.e., when we explore matter right upto sub atomic particles and below, right to the end (remember the introduction to the second Sloka where we started with the God Particle experiment).
Now the question is: how can I appreciate the pure existence and consciousness without association with any object or body ? I am able to appreciate them along with object and body. I am able to appreciate existence with object; I am able to appreciate consciousness with body. Once the object is removed, and the body is removed; pure formless existence consciousness survives, the sāstras say. How can I appreciate that pure existence consciousness?
The sāstra says: you will never be able to appreciate the existence-consciousness. Once you remove the world and body, you will never be able to appreciate, because your appreciation is invariably along with an object or body. Pure thing; you can never appreciate; You know what is the reason; the Upanisad says, it is because you yourselves are that pure existence-consciousness, it being the very subject itself, it is never available for objectification.
In vedantic parlance this is called “sat” – the self Existence feature of Paramatma (Brahman) or तत् (Tat) and at the worldy level is known as “asti” अस्ति – Existence.
This sustaining factor of cognition, the Satta, the ISness, that satta is responsible for everything that exists in space and time. Therefore the senses and the cognition and the objects of cognition all of them have their being in Consciousness which is self existent. Why is it self existent? Consciousness is self revealing and therefore self evident and what is self evident means self existent; means that it IS. Consciousness is self revealing or the revealer. Like sun is the revealer for objects. It does not do any action to reveal. Its by nature a revealer. It reamins revealing all the time.
This leads us to the second vital link – the revealing aspect – The light.
In a lighter vein “We will not take the Light lightly”. We will throw more light on this “Light” in our next blog.
Alan Wilson Watts, British Born American writer and speaker is considered as the foremost interpreter of Eastern disciplines for the contemporary West. He jovially calls a philosopher as “a sort of an intellectual yokel, who gawks at things that sensible people take for granted”.
“What is he talking about ? Us ! taking things for granted! He must be crazy” we must be wondering. No! Watts has not gone nuts. Let us see what Watts says.
“Philosophy starts with wonder, Aristotle said. During the trip between the maternity ward to the crematorium called otherwise as life, without awe/wonder, we take several things for granted and live our life as a routine. For example let us take the word “Existence”. Existence of an object, existence of a number, existence of the world, existence of life in the world etc. Existence is routinely taken for granted.
On the other hand if we think about it for a minute we will be absolutely amazed to discover ourself on the surface of a tiny rock-ball, rotating around a spherical fire in a tiny galaxy in an ever expanding galaxies – a very odd situation and the more we look at things, we cannot get rid of the feeling that existence is quite weird and it is very very strange.
But the so called insignificant little creature “We the humans” have inside our skulls, a neurological contraption that is able to center itself in the midst of this incredible expanse of galaxies and start measuring the whole thing. That is quite extraordinary. Isn’t it?
Furthermore, let us realise that for a world where there are no eyes, there is no light: in a world where there are no soft skin, there are no roughs and in a world where there are no muscles, there is nothing called heavy. It is all relational. Existence is relationship and we are smack in the middle of it”.
When we talk of Relationship what is that we are speaking about? Relationship between whom and whom ? Relationship on what basis ? This is what we will learn in Dakshinamurthy Sthothram Sloka 3 onwards.
Adi Sankara after revealing about the “Sathya” in the first Sloka and the “Creator” in the next Sloka, introduces gradually the “Jiva” by discussing the “Existence and the light” that the Jiva/SELF experience every moment first. This will be the focus of this Sloka.
சிறுவித்தினில் அடங்கும் வருபெருந்தரு ஒப்ப, இவ்வுலகை – தன்
இச்சையுடன் மந்திரச்சித்தனும் வித்தக ஞானியும் போல் விரித்து – பின்
இலை கிளை கொடி மலர் காய் கனி வித்தென கணக்கிலா வகையுடன்
வெளி நொடி வரையிலா மாயையால் வேறுபட க் காட்டி பின் மறைத்திடும்
ஆதிஅந்தமிலா மோனநிலை ஆசானாம் அருள்மிகு
தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி பொற்பாதம் பணிந்திடுவோம்
Meaning in English:
To Him who, like unto a magician, or even like unto a mighty Yogin, displays by His own will this universe, undifferentiated in the beginning like the plant within the seed, but made afterwards picturesque in all its variety in combination with space and time created by Mâyâ, to Him who is incarnate in the Teacher, to Him in the Effulgent Form Facing the South, to Him (Siva) be this bow!
In the first Sloka, we dealt with the nature of the Ultimate Reality/ the Supreme Self/the Brahman/God by analysing two states of the Individual Self/Consciousness viz., dream and awake states. In other words, by analysing the dreaming jīvātma and waking jīvātma we learnt about our jīvātma svarūpam. Therefore, first verse is dealing with an important word “tvam”. And now in the second verse, Śankarācārya wants to deal with the word “tat” – tat padārthaḥ, the meaning of the word: tat, i.e., paramātma or Brahman. We saw in the previous blogs, that in all the śāstrās, it is stated that Brahman is the cause of the universe; using the spider as an example, we saw that Brahman is the intelligent and material cause for the universe. We will see now how he “creates” the universe.
Is it Creation or Manifestation?
Śankarācārya brings forth the philosophy that Creation is not there; everything is in potential form. Brahman is the material and intelligent cause to bring it out as His manifestation. This is the core Vedanta Principle that Śankarācārya brings out by citing two examples which we saw in the two videos of the previous blog; the giant Sequoia tree and PC Sorcar, the magician.
The Tree and the Material Cause:
And where did this big tree come from? From a very small seed. This is the example that Śankarācārya brings out in Sloka 2 – The seed and tree; He says; the tree is already existent in the seed, before its origination; in dormant condition; potential condition. He uses the expression “nirvikalpa rūpeṇa”; in an undifferentiated form, the tree exists. And why do you use the word undifferentiated? Because in the seed, even though the tree exists, you will not be able to see where the flowers are, which are the branches etc.; the branches, thousands of leaves etc. are going to come; they are all there in the seed.
இதையே அவ்வைப் பாட்டி ‘வெற்றிவேர்க்கையில் ’ குறிப்பிடுகிறார்.
“தெள்ளிய ஆலின் சிறுபழத் தொரு விதை
தெண்ணீர்க் கயத்துச் சிறுமீன் சினையினும்
நுண்ணிதே யாயினும் அண்ணல் யானை
அணிதேர் புரவி ஆட்பெரும் படையொடு
மன்னக் கிருக்க நிழலாகும்மே’’
சிறுமீனின் கண்ணைகாட்டிலும் சிறிய முட்டையில் அரசன் தன் நாற்படை பரிவாரங்களுடன் வந்து தங்க நிழல் தரும் பெரிய ஆலமரம் உள்ளது’ என்பது (தெள்ளிய ஆலின் ) தமிழ்ப்பாட்டியின் வாக்கு. இந்தச் சிறிய விதைக்குள் தன்னைப் பிற மரங்களிலிருந்து வேறுபடுத்திக் கொள்ளாமலும் வேர், கிளை கொப்பு விழுதுகள் போன்ற உறுப்புகள் காணப்படாமலும் சத்தியாக ஆலமரம் மறைந்துள்ளது. இதனை வடமொழியில் ‘நிர்விகல்ப ரூபம்’, அவ்வியக்தம் (un manifested, undifferentiated form ) என்பர். அதாவது, காணப்படும் பிரபஞ்சம் தோன்றுவதற்கு முன் அது ‘ஜகத் காரணமாக’ சூக்கும சத்தியாகப் பிரமத்தில் இருந்தது. அதனால் பிரமம் பிரபஞ்சத்திற்கு வித்து. எனவே, இவ்வுலகம் பிரமத்தினால் படைக்கப்பட்டதன்று. பிரபஞ்சம் படைக்கப்பட்ட தன்று. ஏற்கெனவே உள்ளது. ஏற்கெனவே உள்ள சூக்குமப் பிரபஞ்சம் நம்முடைய கண்ணுக்குக் காட்சிப் படவில்லை. எனவே காட்சிப்பட்ட பிரபஞ்சத்தினை இறைவன் படைப்பு எனக் கருதுகிறோம். பிரமமே முதற்காரணம்.
The world was there in potential form, in Brahman, the kāraṇam, material cause. And therefore Śankarācārya says; बीजस्याऽन्तरिवाङ्कुरो जगदिदं प्राङ्गनिर्विकल्पं Bijasya antha nirvikalpaha ankura asthi. Within the seed, ankuraha, the tree is there; nirvikalpaha, in an undifferentiated, unrecognizable form (unmanifest, undifferentiated, potential form); In the same way, the whole universe, existed in potential form; in whom? Brahmani, the world was existing in Brahman in potential form; therefore, Brahman is the seed of the universe. Bhagavan did not create this world; why? because the world was already there; He didn’t. It was already available inside Him in undifferentiated form.
Now let us come to the second line. मायाकल्पितदेशकालकलना वैचित्र्यचित्रीकृतम् – māyā kalpita deśa kāla kalanā vai citri citrikritam. That unmanifest world was made manifest. The undifferentiated world got differentiated. – citrikritam made to manifest, magnified, multiplied or differentiated. Just as from the undifferentiated seed, gradually differentiation comes; this sprout comes; then you can see the branches, the leaves, the twig, flowers, the fruit, they are all differentiation from the past condition where these differences were not there. And therefore, creation can be called a manifestation or a differentiation or a form of multiplication. Thus, citrikritam means it was diversified, magnified; multiplied.
And for this multiplication of one into the manifold world, what is required. Śankarācārya gives in a very technical form and says māya kalptita deśa kāla. Desa and kāla (space and time), are caused by the māya shakthi (veiling and projecting powers) which is in Brahman. Thus, when I look at through time and space, Ekam Brahma is perceived as anekam jagat. Now what is essence of this entire line? Brahman continues to be non-dual; when māyā shakthi is activated, called vikshepa shakthi, then the time and space comes into existence; and they are the goggles for the consciousness. When I look through the time space spectacle, a non-dual Brahman appears, or is modified into the pluralistic universe. And from the line, what is the main point we get. Brahman is the material cause of the universe.
The Magician, the Yogi and the Intelligent Cause:
Now in the third line, Śankarācārya wants to point out, that the Brahman itself is the intelligent cause also, which throws out the universe out of itself. Not only is the material cause, which becomes the universe, He is the intelligent cause also; which throws out the universe out of itself. And what is the example? svapna prapancha, I am the material cause of the dream world, and I myself am the intelligent cause also, who throw out the svapna world, out of myself. That is said here; yahaḥ vrijrimbayati. yahaḥ means the very same Brahman, the paramātma yahaḥ vrijrimbayati api विजृम्भयत्यपि; not only he is the material cause, he is the intelligent cause also. That अर्प api indicates he is creator also. He is the raw material also. vrijrimbayati api; Very same Brahman creates also. And for creating the world out of itself, what are the instruments used by Brahman. Because we require the creator, the raw material, then the instruments also. Carpenter is the creator, wood is the raw material, but those two are not sufficient, he requires the instrument; What are the instruments used by Brahman? Śankarācārya says Brahman is the instrument also. And therefore स्वेच्छयाsveccayāḥ. By mere sankalpa, without requiring any instrument, swa icchayāḥ, sva saṃkalpa mātreṇa. And this is also not impossible, because we do the same thing in creating the swapna; I am the creator, I am the raw material, I am the instrument also; and saṃkalpa mātreṇa, effortlessly I throw out this svapna prapanchaḥ; Similarly, Brahman throws out the jagat prapanchaḥ.
And he gives two examples here. Even though svapna example is the ideal example, Śankarācārya does not give that example here, because in the first verse already svapna driṣṭanta he has given and therefore he gives two other examples. What are they? मायावीवmāyāvi iva. Like a magician. So, Magician produces many things out of himself; he just waves the hand and you find a hat is there; or there is a dress; or there is a bird; he shows a empty hat, then from that he goes on taking many things; So what is the raw material? Without any raw material, with his own magical power, the magician materialises and we are all magicians in producing the dream world and Brahman is a magician in producing this world. He materialises like the magician. Or महायोगीवmahā yogi iva. Or like a great sidda puruṣaḥ, who can also materializes things. Visvāmitra materialised a world itself called triśanku svargaḥ, and we also read in the books of various sidda puruṣaḥ s, who materialise things. And Śankarācārya gives māyavi iva, mahayogi iva. A siddha puruṣaḥ can also materialise; a magician also can materialise. Thus Brahman is the Intelligent Cause.
Why “Create” at all ?
Adi Śankarāchayra answers one more question, which is often asked; How did this world come into being? Or why did Bhagavan create the world at all? Because he is a jnāni; he does not require anything to be happy. We are ajnānis, unhappy and therefore go on producing things, seeking happiness. But Paramātma need not seek happiness, by creating a world. He must be ātman eva ātmanā tuṣṭhāḥ. He cannot create anything out of desire; then why did bhagavan create the world, if he does not have a desire? This is one question we get often especially when problem comes.
And generally, śāstra gives the answer; the world has to be created, because we have invested in this world; invested in the form of karmas. We have got lot of karmās to be exhausted. Since we have got lot of punya pāpa karmās and the karmās have to be exhausted, and the exhaustion can take place only through experiences, and the experiences require a world.
How did we all get this karmā? Very simple. Because in the previous janma, previous shristhi, we have done lot of good and bad karmās. Some of the karmās got exhausted in the previous sṛśṣṭi; but some reminders were there; for that this sṛśṣṭi. Therefore, how did we get the karmā? Because of the previous sṛśṣṭi. This goes on and on and Adi Śankarācārya answers that question through one single word: bījasyāntati vāṅkuro jagaditaṃ prāṅnarvikalpaṃ punaḥ. That punaḥ, answers the questions. punaḥ means repeatedly, means again and again and again. Adi Shankaracharya puts one punaha; punaha indicates the cyclic nature of the creation;
Thus with two examples and three lines in Sanskrit, Adi Sankaracharya brings out the entire Vedantic Concepts about Brahman, the Creator. Amazing
From the last blog after watching the videos about spider, we understood that God is The Creator; but ended up with a doubt – how does God create the world? What materials does He use? How does He present his creation? Before answering these questions we must have a look at two more videos and hear a Tamil Film Song. Curious ? Here we go!
First let us see a video titled “Sequoia in a Snowstorm” from the National Geographic channel.
Now let us come to the core issues on this video.
From where did this gigantic Sequoia tree come from ? Well, it came from this simple looking seed
How is it possible for such a gigantic tree to hide inside a small seed? Tons of wood, millions of leaves, huge number of branches etc. No way! Then how ? Watch another video (a bit long)
Now let us see a magic show in 1957 by the legendary Indian Magician PC Sorcar.
What did PC Sorcar do in the magic show? Didn’t he keep creating animals after animals from that flat screen? Didn’t he cut that girl into two and bring her back as one living entity? Is it a creation or an illusion?
These two videos are real life happenings – aren’t they?
Now let us listen to a Song penned by the legendary Tamil Poet Kannadasan in the film “Valar Pirai”.
Meaning – The guy who rules the Infinite Universe through emptiness, the guy who resides as a kernel inside a tough shell of a coconut from the coconut tree, the guy who becomes a relative of monks who abdicate everything in life, the guy who keeps a chicken in an egg and an egg in side a chicken and the guy who keeps the sapling inside the trunk of a banana tree – if you can understand and follow that guy, then that guy is the God.
Confused completely further ! How does He do it ? It is time that we should get some answers to our doubt. Let us straight away get into Dakshinamurthy Sthothram – Sloka 2 in the next blog where we will get our doubts cleared by Adi Sankaracharya.
We saw in the previous blog that Brahman/God, the one “which is invisible, inconceivable, without lineage, without any classifications (Varṇa), without eyes and ears, without hands and feet, and that which is eternal, all-pervasive, omnipresent, extremely subtle and undecaying” is the source of all beings. We also saw that we need an intelligent cause and a material cause for a creation. Now, we have a logical question that may arise in one’s mind to answer “How can this universe and physical beings come out from such an entity that is beyond physical attributes”?
In the two videos we saw how the spider creates a web. The Spider in-fact is a great teacher and a living example of the creation process adopted by God/Brahman/The Ultimate Reality. What does the spider teach about? It teaches about īśvaraḥ.
Spider is the intelligent cause behind the web; and most interestingly, spider never goes after any raw material; the raw material is found within itself. spider is nimittam and upādānam.
यथोर्णनाभिः सृजते गृह्णते च यथा पृथिव्यामोषधयः संभवन्ति |
yathā- as, just like; ūrṇanābhi- spider; sṛjate- emits;
gṛhṇate- take back; ca- and; pṛthivyām- on the earth;
oṣadhayaḥ- herbs; saṃbhavanti- spring up;
sataḥ puruṣāt – from living person; keśalomāni- hairs (on head and body); tathā- so, in that manner;
akṣarāt- from the imperishable; saṃbhavati- arises, happens; iha- here, this; viśvam- universe.
As a spider emits threads (and makes its web) and takes them back (at his will), as herbs spring up on earth and as hairs grow from living persons, so does the universe arise from the Imperishable (entity).
We must note that the spider is unaffected by the emission of thread and also outlives the thread; moreover, it also sustains the thread and also withdraws it at its will.
In the same way, Mundaka upanishad points out that Brahman the paramātma is the intelligent and the material cause of the universe and therefore, before creation, there was only non-dual Brahman, which served both as the intelligent cause as well as the raw material to produce the universe. And therefore, paramātma is said to be jagat abinna nimitta upādāna kāraṇam. And the world is the kāryam.
Whenever this subject of the Spider comes, my mind goes immediately to the Discourse by the legendary Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshithar around the year 1960 at Matunga in Mumbai (I don’t know the exact year and date) while explaining the significance of Vishnu Sahasranama. Here is that rare audio clip. This is in Tamil. செங்காலிபுரம் அனந்தராம தீட்சிதர் உபன்யாசம்
So, the Creator is the Ultimate Reality, “an undefinable something which is everything”. We call Him as GOD.
A doubt can arise in the mind of the seeker. “Ok. Understood that God is the Creator. How does He create the world? What materials does He use? How does He present his creation? Why is He creating?
Adi Sankaracharya answers these questions in Sloka 2 with two examples, which we will see in the next blog.