We saw in the introductory blog that the experience of the self is not a simple act of knowing but it is a complex act of re-knowing. When recognition of self occurs, the limited consciousness merges with the supreme consciousness. Tirumūlar compares this to space merging with space and light merging with light. Let us now see in this Sloka about this recognition – when, where and how do we re-cognise this Self.
बाल्यादिष्वपि जाग्रदादिषु तथा सर्वास्ववस्थास्वपि
व्यावृत्तास्वनुवर्तमानमहमित्यन्तः स्फुरन्तं सदा ।
स्वात्मानं प्रकटीकरोति भजतां यो मुद्रयाभद्रया
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥७॥
Meaning in Tamil
இடைநிலையாய் பாலன் இளையன் விருத்தனென உடலிருந்தும்
அடையும் அறுபாதி அவத்தையும்* தொடர்விலாதெனினும் – அதனுள்
இடையிலா தொடராய் சுயநேருணர்வாய் அனைத்து நிலைதனிலும் உள்ளுறை
ஆதியும் அந்தமும் அருட்பரம்பொருளெனும் ஆன்மாவை அறியும் ஆற்றல்தனை
அமைதியின் வடிவாய் கரவழி மோனமுத்திரை காட்டி நாடுவோர்கு கற்பிக்கும்
ஆதிஅந்தமிலா மோனநிலை ஆசானாம் அந்த அருள்மிகு
தக்ஷிணாமூர்த்தி பொற்பாதம் பணிந்திடுவோம்
(*அறுபாதி அவத்தை – ஆன்மாவின் மூன்று நிலைகள் –
விழிப்பு, கனவு, ஆழ் உறக்கம்)
Meaning in English:
During boyhood and other stages of life (Youth, Old age etc), during waking and other states (Dreaming, Deep Sleep, Turiya etc) and similarly in all conditions the Ātman always shines as the “I” within, free from all conditions but at the same time present in all conditions. The Inner Guru awakens this Knowledge of One’s Own Ātman to those who surrender to Him; this Knowledge is represented by the auspicious Cin-Mudra. Salutations to Him, the Personification of Our Inner Guru Who Awakens This Knowledge through His Profound Silence; Salutation to Sri Dakṣiṇāmurty.
Understanding the Sloka:
1. अन्त: स्फुरन्तं सदा स्वात्मानं – Antah Sphurantam Sadaa
Sva-[A]ātmaanam – आत्मानुभवः सदा अन्तः स्फुरन्तं
Where is Ātma experienced? Self is experienced by me. ātma, the real Self, is always experienced by me. It is ever-evident to myself; And when is the self-experienced? Sada spurantaṃ. It is ever-experienced. And where is it experienced? अन्तः स्फुरन्तं antaḥ spurantaṃ. Within the body-mind-complex, within the enclosure of body-mind-complex, it is ever-experienced. (आत्मानुभवः ātmānubhavaḥ is a सदा अन्तः स्फुरन्तं sada antaḥ sphurantaṃ; sada – always; antah – inside/internal; spurantaṃ meaning shining, experienced, evident, accessible, recognisable, is spurantaṃ).
And how do we refer to that experience? Every experience is identified through an expression. When I experience an object let us say a clock, I invent an expression to refer that experience; I say that it is a clock. What is that expression for ātma? This ever-experienced ātma, is referred to me by me as Aham – Aham iti. It is ever experienced in the form of I-am; I-am; I-am;
When do we experience? “I-am’ experience is there continuously. Throughout the waking state, “I-am” continues; the ātma is experienced as I am, during the dream state; even during the sleep state, “I am” continues. You do not verbalise during sleep; but that experience is verbalised after waking; “I am” experience is present in sleep, but it is verbalised, vocalised only in the waking state; verbalisation is later, but the experience is there; even during sleep. Therefore I-am, I-am, I-am, this continuously experienced I am is ātma.
From this Adi Śankarācārya conveys a very important thing, ātmā experience or ātmānubhavaḥ is continuously present; ātmānubhavaḥ is continuously present for everyone, all the time. And therefore, we should remember ātmānubhavaḥ is not a particular experience happening at a particular time. You cannot say I had ātmānubhavaḥ in meditation. Then you are making ātmānubhavaḥ an event in time. Adi Śankarācārya negates that by using the word सदा sadā. So ātmānubhavaḥ is not an event in time and therefore it does not require a process to make it an event in time. An event in time happens because of an effort, because of a process. Śankarā says ātmānubhavaḥ is not an event; which happens in time through a process or through an effort of any individual or individuals. Therefore, we should never say; I am working for ātmānubhavaḥ. This is one explanation of ātma.
2. व्यावृत्तास्वनुवर्तमानमहमित्यन्तः (Vyaavrttaasu-AnuVartamaanam-Aham-Iti-Antah) बाल्यादिष्वपि जाग्रदादिषु तथा सर्वास्ववस्थास्वपि – bālyādiṣvapi jāgradādiṣu tathā sarvāsvavasthāsvapi.
This ever-experienced ātma is anuvartamānam, is continuously-present, anuvartha means to continuously present, to inhere, to permeate, to inform, anuvarthamānam; this ātma is continuously-present. When? In and through. In and through what? vyāvṛttāsu avāstāsu, vyāvṛttām means discontinuous, anuvartham means continuous, and avāstā means states/stages, So ātma is continuously present in and through the discontinuous-avāstās.
The word avāstā, if you take the life as a whole, the word avāstā means the stages of life and they are classified as four in our śātrās. There are four avāstās or stages of life, if you take life as a whole. And what are those avāstās? bālyam, kaumāram, yauvanam, vārdakyam; bālyam is childhood state, kaumāram means boyhood state; or stage; and yauvanam is youth stage; and vārdakyam means old-age stage. Thus, four avāstās are there. bālyadishu avāstāshu, in and through the four discontinous stages of life, like childhood etc. ātma is continuously present. How? I am a child, I am a boy, I am a youth; I am old; When child word is used, boy word is not there; when I say boy, youth word is not there; When I say old, youth, boy is not there. Child, boy, youth, old, there are anuvartam or vyāvṛttam, these four; they are vyāvṛttam means, mutually-exclusive-discontinous stages-of-life; but even though these stages are mutually exclusive; even though these stages are discontinuous, what is continuous? I am, I am, I am. That “I am” refers to the ātma.
And not only these four stages of life. If you take a particular day of your life, instead of taking the whole life, if you take a particular day, in the context of a day, avāstās are called states of experience, and they are classified into three. If you take life; four stages; if you take day; three states; four stages are called avāstās; three states are also called avāstās. One is taking a segment of life called a day, another taking the whole life. And what are the three states of experience? Adi Śankarācārya says जाग्रदाददषु jāgradādiṣu when we say jāgradādiṣu avāstāsu, we should translate as states of experience. And there also “I am waker”, “I am dreamer” and “I am sleeper”; wakerhood-state, dreamerhood and sleeperhood; They are vyāvṛttam or anuvrutham? They are vyāvṛttam, which means they are mutually exclusive, and they are discontinuous states. But in and through the discontinous states, what is common, “I am”, “I am”, that “I am”, and that continuous”I am” experience is ātmanubhavaha;
3. प्रकटीकरोति भजतां – Prakattii-Karoti Bhajataam
Here Śankarā talks about the knowledge that the Guru is teaching – the knowledge about the attributeless ever present and ever experienced ātma. Because they are floating and march pasting, this exclusion of attributes, and seeing the ever experienced continuous I-am as ātma is called ātma jnanam. Seeing the attributeless I-am as the ātma is called ātmajnanam. And therefore, ātma jnanam is not a new experience; but it is a new perception of the ever experienced I, excluding the attributes. And this ātma, the ātma, which is separated from attributes, प्रकटीकरोशत prakaṭīkaroti, is taught by the guru. Guru does not give a new experience. Guru does not ask the disciple to work for a new experience, Guru teaches the student to reshuffle; reclassify the available experience. You say “I am”, but do not include any attribute.
In Nirvana Satakam, Śankarā Says ,
नमे द्वेष रागौ, नमे लोभः मोहौः
मदौ नैव मे नैव मात्सर्य भावः
न धमॊ नचाथॊ, न कामॊ न मॊक्षः
शचदानन्दरूप शिवॊहम् शिवॊहम
Include the attribute; I am the empirical-ahaṃkāra; exclude the attribute, I am absolute-ātma. And therefore, the difference between ahaṃkāra and ātma is only in my reclassified-perception. That is why we say ātma-jnanam is a cognitive-change; a perspective-change, with regard to myself. And what is that change? Earlier when I was saying “I am” it was along with anger; along with desire; I included them; now I have learnt to exclude them. And the moment l learn how to exclude them; I can happily claim I am Brahman. Inclusive of attributes, as ahaṃkāra, I cannot claim I am Brahman. Exclusive of atttributes, as Aham, I can claim I am Brahman; I have not become Brahman; but I have claimed the Brahman that I was, I am, and I ever will be. And it is this new perspective which is the teaching of the guru.
Therefore, Adi Adi Śankarācāryacharya says: स्वात्मानं svātmānaṃ; this attributeless-I, this reclassified-I, the guru प्रकटीकरोशत; prakaṭīkaroti means reveals, teaches, instructs; to whom? भजतां bhajatāṃ, to the seekers who are willing for the new-look “I”. Who are willing for the new-look “I”; there is no change in the eye; in the look or perspective there is a new perspective; that I prakaṭīkaroti bhajatāṃ; bhajatāṃ means śiṣyānām (the seekers).
4. यो मुद्रयाभद्रया – Yo Mudrayaa Bhadrayaa
Now, Śankarā explains as to how the Guru transfers this knowledge to the Seekers. And how does he reveal? Two methods, by verbal and non-verbal communication. So, all the body gestures are non-verbal communication. That non-verbal communication is called badraya mudraya; bhadraḥ means auspicious, mudraḥ means hand gestures. The blessed symbol here referred to is variously named as follows:
- Cinmudra, the symbol of consciousness;
- Vyakhya-mudra, the symbol of exposition;
- Tarka-mudra, the symbol of investigation;
- Jnana-mudra, the symbol of wisdom.
It consists of a circle formed by joining the thumb and the index-finger at their tips. Through the auspicious hand gesture, called cinmudraḥ – karakalita cinmudra ānandarūpam.
We saw in the dhyāna slokaḥ; the index finger (let us call it the I – am-finger). With this I-am-finger only we attach attributes and point out “you are different, I am different ” meaning that we attach sthula, sukshma and karana sareera attributes through this finger.
And once I separate the “I am” from the attributes, then it can touch the thumb which refers absolute Brahmanhood; separate from the attributes, “I acquire”, I accomplish the status of absolute-brahmanhood. The relative I itself is the absolute-I, when it is freed from attributes. I plus attributes is relative-I, ahaṃkāra; I minus attributes am the absolute-I; ātma. This is what Dakshinamurthy conveys.
The CinMudra is also extensively quoted in several Tamil “Saiva Siddhanta” works. Here is one from Kanda Puranam and Tiruvanaika Puranam
சைவத்தில் சின்முத்திரை கந்தபுராணத்தில் விளக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது. உமையம்மை இமய அரசன் வேண்டுகோளுக் கிரங்கி அவனுக்கு மகளாக இறைவன் அனுப்பப் பிரிந்தவுடன் , இறைவன் தனியே இருந்தனன். அப்பொழுது வேதம் முழுதும் கற்றுணர்ந்த சனகாதி முனிவர் இறைவனிடம் வந்து,” ஐயனே!கடல் போல விரிந்த பொருட்பரப்புள்ள வேதங்களைக் கற்றும் மனம் அடங்காமல், நள்ளிரவில்சூறாவளிக் காற்றடிக்க எழும் அலைகள் மோதித் தாக்க அலைப்புண்ட கப்பல் போல மனம் ஒருநிலைப்படாமல் கலங்கினோம். இந்தக் கலக்கம் நீங்க அருளுவாயாக” என்று இரந்தனர். இறைவன் அந்தமில் ஆகமத்தின் அரும்பொருள் மூன்றும் (சரியை, கிரியை, யோகம்) கூறினன். முனிவரர்கள் மனம் அடங்கும் ‘ஞானபோதகம்’ போதி என்றனர். இறைவன் அது சொல்லத்தக்கதன்று; இப்பரிசினால் இருத்தல் கண்டீர் எனக் கூறி,
மோனமுத்திரை என்றது, சின்முத்திரையை. சின்முத்திரை உணர்த்தும் பொருள்யாது?
கட்டைவிரல் சிவபரம்பொருளைக் குறிக்கும் . சுட்டுவிரல் உயிரைக் குறிக்கும் சுட்டுவிரலுடன் ஒட்டிய நடுவிரல் உயிருடன் இணைந்த ஆணவமலத்தையும் மோதிரவிரல் மாயாமலத்தையும் சுண்டுவிரல் கன்மமலத்தையும் குறிக்கும். சுட்டுவிரல் மற்றைய மூன்று விரல்களையும் விட்டு விலகிப் பெருவிரலின் அடியினைப் பொருந்தி நிற்றல், உயிர் , மும்மலங்களையும் நீத்துச் சிவனின் தாளிணையில் படிந்து நிற்றல் முத்தி என்பதைக் குறிக்கும். இதனை,
5. तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये – Tasmai Shrii-Guru-Muurtaye Nama Idam Shrii-Dakssinnaamuurtaye
To that Guru, who gives me the knowledge of the attributeless-I, who teaches me to have a new perspective, without looking for a new experience, that teacher I prostrate; Tasmai. Gurumurthaye; śrī dakṣiṇāmūrtaye; who is none other than dakṣiṇāmūrti idaṃ namaha; my prostrations.
This is the seventh verse.