Saturday, February 20, 2016

What is Jnana or the knowledge of the Self-Atman? by Swami Sivananda

What is Jnana or the knowledge of the Self-Atman? 
Tattva-jnana (Knowledge of Brahman or Atman) is the release from the trammels of one's own mind. Such a release alone leads to the attainment of Liberation (Moksha). The mind becomes of the nature of Jnana by dint of the efforts towards spiritual direction; but becomes of the nature of the universe through Ajnana (ignorance). If the mind is bathed in the water of Jnana and cleansed of all its impurities, then the shining Moksha will disclose itself in its native effulgence to those who strive after it. The real bliss is that which arises when the mind, divested of all desires through the eternal Jnana, destroys its subtle form. 

Mind and Brahman   

The capacity of the mind to think exists, because it is enlightened by the Brahman or Atman shining within and it is by that the mind is capable of activity. Those who have realised the Self say that the mind is pervaded by Brahman. "He who dwells in the mind, is within the mind, whom the mind does not know, whose body is the mind, who from within rules the mind is thy Self, the Inner Ruler, immortal." (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, III-vii-20) "That which one cannot think with the mind, but that by which they (wise sages) say the mind is made to think, know that alone to be Brahman" (Kena Upanishad, 5). Mind is a mere beggar. It borrows its light and intelligence from the Inner Ruler, the Atman that is self-effulgent. Just as a piece of iron moves in front of a magnet, so also, this mind moves in front of the Inner Ruler. It plays, thinks, feels and imagines before the Divine Presence, just as a prime minister plays and works before the presence of the king. The mind shines in its borrowed feathers. It appears like Chaitanya (pure consciousness). How can the mind which gropes in darkness, which changes in every minute, which has a birth from Mahat (Cosmic or divine mind) and also death (dissolution) in Prakriti be termed as pure consciousness? 

The thoughts are various and changing. Now good thoughts manifest. Five minutes later, vicious thoughts appear. The mind is very fickle and changing. It cannot, therefore, be the changeless Atman or Kutastha-Nirvikalpa (unchanging, rock-seated) Brahman. 

Jada (insentient, non-intelligent) and Chaitanya (absolute consciousness)

Mind, Buddhi, Indriyas and all other things are Jada. That thing which has no knowledge of itself and of other things also is called Jada. Brahman only is Chaitanya-Vastu. Chaitanya or Chit or Chetana is Svayamprakasha (self-luminous) and Sarva-Prakasha (illuminating everything). It illuminates the mind, Buddhi and all Indriyas internally; and externally the sun, the moon, the stars, lightning, fire, etc. 

Brahman is Chaitanya (self-luminous Consciousness)

Who sees the defects in the sun-whether it shines brightly or whether it is obscured by clouds? It is the eye. Who sees the defects in the eye whether it is a cataract or Timira or not? It is the Buddhi (intellect). Who sees the defects in the Buddhi-whether there is confusion or clarity in it? Who illumines the Buddhi? It is the Kutastha or Atman or Brahman, illuminator of everything. 

Who illuminates in dreams? There is no other light there. The mind is not self-luminous. It is Jada (insentient, non-intelligent). It is Brahman who illuminates the objects in the dream. 
Suppose there is a blazing light at night. You stand at a distance. Something stands between you and the light as an obstruction and you cannot see the light. But you can clearly see the objects that are illuminated by the light. Though you cannot see the light directly, you clearly conclude that there must be a big light through the perception of the objects. So also, there must be a self-luminous illuminator behind this Nature. That illuminator, the "Light of lights" (Jyotisham-api tajjyotih) is the Adhishthana (support) for this illusory world. 

If you sit down and realise that you only think by virtue of the one Life and that the mind, animated by the one Life into the act of thinking, is a part of the whole which is God, then you will argue that your mind is out of existence as a separate entity and the result is that mind and body physically (so to speak) disappear and the only thing that remains is Being-Existence which is not explicable in words. 

Brahman is Sakshi (Witness)

Raga-Dvesha, (like-dislike, attraction-repulsion) pleasure and pain, Kartritva (doership, I am the doer), Bhoktritva (enjoyership, I am the enjoyer) are the Dharmas of the mind only.
Atman is Sakshi (witness) and Asanga (unattached). Like a crystal (Sphatika) which, though tinged with the seven colours is yet unaffected by them, Atman too is not affected by the actions of the mind. 

The very idea of creation suggests that there must be a creator. The very idea of matter suggests that there must be a spirit. The very idea of changing phenomenon suggests that there must be an unchanging noumenon. The very idea of a changing mind suggests that there must be an unchanging Sakshi (witness) and controller (Niyamaka) for the mind. He is Kutastha Brahman that clearly understands everything and is a Sakshi or silent witness of the Jiva and his activities. 

You are able to see the objects only. But the Sakshi or Kutastha Brahman sees the mind, its modifications, the Jivatman or reflected consciousness and the various objects of the universe. 

Brahman is Akhanda (Indivisible)

Time, space and Vastu (substance) are the three categories of the mind. Every object has three kinds of limitations (Pariccheda). Grapes, for instance, are obtainable in a certain season only and in certain places only. So grape has got Desa-Kala-Pariccheda (limitation by space and time). It has got Vastu-Pariccheda also. You cannot find grape in a mango tree. But, the existence of Brahman or Satchidananda is free from these three kinds of Pariccheda (Trividha-Pariccheda-Rahita), because He is eternal, infinite and the essence and Adhishthana for all substances. 

An Englishman is different from an Indian. There is Svajatiya Bheda. A tree is different from a stone. There is Vijatiya-Bheda. There is difference between a fruit, flower and leaves in the tree. There is difference between a hand, arm, leg, foot, etc. This is Svagata-Bheda. Brahman has not got these three kinds of Bheda. There cannot be another Brahman, because Infinity is One. So there is no Svajatiya-Bheda in Brahman. The world has emanated from Brahman. It is illusory. So it cannot bring Vijatiya-Bheda for Brahman. World is Brahman Himself. Sat-Chit-Ananda are not three entities. They are one. It is only Sabda-Bheda, like water, Pani, Jala. Sat is Chit. Chit is Sat. Chit is Ananda. So there is no Svagata-Bheda in Brahman. Bheda is a mental creation produced by space, colour, size, etc. 

If anything is free from the three kinds of Pariccheda (limitation) of Desa, Kala, Vastu and three kinds of Bheda as described above, then it is termed Akhanda. You can ascribe Akhanda-Lakshana to that substance. That Lakshana can be attributed to Brahman only. 

Enquiry of 'who Am I?' 

Moksha (Liberation, release from the Samsaric wheel of birth and death) comes through Jnana (knowledge of Atman or God). Jnana comes through Vichara (right enquiry) of 'Who am I?' or understanding and thinking of the right essential significance of the Mahavakya, "Tat Tvam Asi" (Thou art That) of the Upanishads. Enquiry of 'Who am I?' and understanding of 'Tat Tvam Asi' are one and the same. 

Brahma-Jnana, which enquires into the true nature of 'I' is the fire which destroys the mind. It is the 'Jnanagni' referred to in the Gita (IV-37): "Jnanagnih sarvakarmani bhasmasatkurute tatha-The fire of wisdom reduces all actions (and the false 'I') to ashes." 

When any thought arises in the mind, enquire: Why has this Vritti (modification) arisen? 
Whom it concerns? Who am I? All the thoughts will die eventually. All mental activities will cease. The mind will turn inward. It will rest on Atman. This is Vedantic Sadhana (practice). You will have to persist constantly in the Sadhana whatever stray thoughts arise. The one thought 'Who am I?' will destroy all other thoughts of worldly nature. That thought will die by itself. Ego will vanish. Balance left is Kevala Asti (Pure Existence merely); Chinmatra (Consciousness alone); Kevala Suddha Chaitanya; Chidakasa-Matra (Absolute knowledge or indeligence) which is Nama-Rupa-Rahita (free from all names and forms), Vyavahararahita, Mala-Vasana-Rahita, Nishkriya, Niravayava, which is Santa-Siva-Advaita of the Mandukya Upanishad. That is Atman. That is to be known. 

The Sakshi Bhava - (the  the witness)

It is the Vritti (modification in the mind) that binds you with the object. You identify yourself with the Vritti and, through the Vritti, with the object. That is the secret. Be a Sakshi (silent witness to the activities of the mind) of the Vrittis of the mind. There will be no longer bondage. Be the seer of the mind's dramatic performances and be not involved with the mind itself. 

When you see a man suffering from appendicular colic, you do not feel yourself any pain. But when you get the same colic, you cry out and experience intense agony. Why? Because of egoism (Ahamkara) you identify yourself with the body. If there is absence of Ahamkara, you will not feel any pain. This absence of Ahamkara can come only when you become impersonal, when you become the witness (Sakshi), when you identify yourself with Brahman (Absolute). 

"I am neither Prana nor the senses. I am quite distinct from these. I am Sakshi (witness) for these and their activities. I am Sat-Chit-Ananda Svarupa. (Existence-consciousness-bliss)" This alone is sufficient for the Vedantic Nirguna meditation (formless meditation without any attribute). At once you will be elevated to the highest pinnacle of glory. This is the best formula. 

If you have a strong Nischaya (determination) only on the above formula, it is termed Paroksha Jnana (indirect knowledge of Brahman). If you have actual Anubhava (Direct perception or experience) through meditation, it is termed Aparoksha Jnana (direct intuitive knowledge of Brahman) or Atmasakshatkara. 

If you go above body-consciousness, if you can abandon the body-idea and if the mind rests on Atman or the Self, then, doubtless, you are Sukhi (happy), Santa (peaceful) and Mukta (free). 

Mind has got a reflexive power of looking up into its own depths. A Raja Yogi develops this power. Introspection helps to cultivate this Yogic faculty. Enter into silence now from today in a dark quiet room. Watch the mind carefully. Be patient. Do not identify yourself with the mind. Be a silent witness. Separate yourself. You can directly perceive the various mental states. 

Soham Dhyana  (Soham meditation)

The effort to keep the mind always concentrated on Atman or Brahman is what is called Atma-Vichara. 

Till the blissful Jnana dawns on you, you should do constant and intense Sadhana. You must not stop thinking of Brahman (Brahma-Chintana) even for half a second, even for the time taken for one winking. You must become Nididhyasana-Parayana (one whose sole refuge is meditation on OM with feeling and meaning). Then only Brahma-Jnana is possible. 

You will have to destroy the Jiva-Bhavana (the feeling or attitude,  I am a body-mind entity, an individual) by entertaining the opposite 'Aham Brahmasmi' Bhavana (The feeling or attitude I am Brahman). The Jiva-Bhavana is created by the Vyavaharic Buddhi (worldly intellect). You will have to destroy this kind of Vyavaharic Buddhi by developing the Suddha Buddhi (pure reason). 

Although you see your body and the world, they really exist not. Never move a fraction of an inch from your established position in Atman. Constantly think that you are the all-pervading Atman (Chidakasa). Even if you are in the mouth of a machine-gun, repeat "Soham"-"Soham"-"Aham Brahma Asmi." Roar like a lion. Fear comes only when you identify yourself with this perishable, fleshy body. If you identify yourself with the infinite, eternal immortal Atman, you will become at once absolutely fearless. Fear is an imaginary modification of the mind of an Ajnani (ignorant). 

Find out your centre. Rest in your centre or equilibrium. That centre is Atman or Brahman or the One Truth that is shining in your heart from eternity to eternity. If you can rest in your centre, neither trouble nor tribulation, neither loss nor disappointment, neither grief nor sorrow can affect you and throw you off the balance. 

If you can keep yourself up in tune with the Infinite, you will have a poised and balanced mind. Nothing can hurt you. You will be always in joy, because you are identifying yourself with Atman. You are resting on the Highest Self. Even though Mansoor and Shams Tabriez the great Sufi Jnanis, were flayed alive, they never felt any sort of pain. They simply uttered 'Analhaq' (I am He). Every drop of blood that fell down also uttered 'Analhaq.' They were always in the bliss of Atman. Look at this marvel. These are the real Jnanis. They showed their power and knowledge of Atman. 

 A small fishing boat is tossed about severely hither and thither even by ordinary waves of a river. But, a big steamer remains unshaken even though violent waves dash against it with tremendous impetuosity. Even so, a man of the world with a fickle mind is tossed about hither and thither even by the small waves of Raga-Dvesha (like-dislike) of the mind; whereas a saint or a Jivanmukta with a balanced and serene mind remains in the world quite steady without being in the least affected by the stormy waves of troubles, tribulations, miseries, afflictions, etc. He is always resting peacefully in the perpetual calm of Atman or the Absolute Self. 

 Whenever you are much worried, whenever you get heavy depression, whenever you get severe attacks of pain, think you are Atman, full of Ananda (bliss). Withdraw the mind from objects and worldly thoughts and fix it on Atman. Enter a solitary room and assert: "I am Anandamaya (blissful) Atman. How can there be pain there? Pain belongs to the mind. It is a mental creation. I am above mind. Atman is an ocean of Ananda. Atman is a storehouse of Ananda, power and knowledge. I feel that I am Suddha Chaitanya (pure consciousness) all-pervading consciousness which is at the back of all these forms, at the back of mind. I am Atman. I am all Ananda." You will derive immense joy, power and exhilaration by this practice. 

 Strangle every thought of deficiency, imperfection, weakness, inferiority. Even if you have nothing to eat, no cloth to wear, even if you suffer from a terrible incurable disease, cling tenaciously to the ideas, "I am God. I am perfect. I possess everything. All health I am. All joy I am." Remember that to be your right mental attitude. What you habitually think prepares a pattern which the life-processes are constantly weaving, outpicturing in the life. 

 "I am that Atman or Brahman which is Eka (One), Chidakasa (Brahman in Its aspect as limitless knowledge; unbounded intelligence.), Akhanda (without parts, indivisible), the Self of all beings (Sarvabhutantaratma)." Try to get established in this Bhava (attitude with feeling) with all efforts (Prayatna). Then the Chanchalata (Wavering, fickleness, tossing) of the mind will vanish. Then you will get eternal bliss. You will become a Jivanmukta (liberated one). There is not an atom of doubt on this point. 

Imagine that you hold the whole world in your womb, in the physical ether which is again supported in your own Svarupa (Chinmaya-full of consciousness) body (Chidakasa, Jnana-Vigraha). Then the ideas of externality and separateness will vanish. There is nothing outside you. There is nothing outside Brahman. 

Apavada-Yukti of Vedanta

The toy-elephant made of wood has hidden the reality WOOD when you take it for an elephant. Even so, these names and forms have concealed the Reality BRAHMAN behind these names and forms. Get rid of the Bhranti (illusion) in the mind, that is deep-rooted from Anadikala (beginningless time). This is wood. This is not elephant. So also this is Brahman. This is not world. This is Atman. This is not body. This is Apavada-Yukti in Vedanta. Take out the balance left that is true after throwing off the false thing, viz., elephant, wood, body, etc. 

Duality is the very nature of the mind. It can never think in terms of unity. It is through Chitta-Suddhi (purification of the subconscious mind)  and Vedantic Sadhana that it should be trained to think in terms of unity. 

Clay is the only reality in all the three periods of time. Pot is an unreal thing: "Vacharambhanam vikaro namadheyam mrittiketyeva satyam"-Clay only is the reality. The modifications such as jar, pot, etc., are in speech only like ornaments (Chhandogya Upanishad). Similarly, Brahman or Atman is the only real thing, eternal substance (Vastu) which has no beginning, no end, no change. The modifications, body, mind, senses (Indriyas) and world are all totally false. They are in name only. See the clay in all earthenware vessels. See Atman in all objects (Atma-Drishti). 

The cows are different. They differ in colour and various other particulars. But, milk is the same. Man minus customs, manners, mode of dress and eating, is the same throughout the world. His passions and feelings are the same throughout the world. The languages are different in various districts and climes, but the idea behind all languages is the same. This is oneness behind variety, duality and multiplicity. There is one essence or one Rasa in sleep. All feel alike. There is no The feeling of plurality or multiplicity (Nanabhava) in sleep. Similarly, there is one homogeneous substance behind the objects. That is Atman. That is Brahman. That is your real Self. 

There is a coconut made of sugar only. It has got marks, lines, external shell, ridges, eyes and everything. But, you have got internal Bhava (feeling) in the mind that it is only sugar. Similarly, even though you see the different objects of the universe, you must have a Bhava and Nischaya (determination) of the Atman that is at the bottom of all these objects, which is the ultimate reality and essence of everything. 

Why do you look into the leaves, twigs, flowers, fruits of the mango tree? Look into the source, the seed. The cloth is only cotton and thread. Take the cloth as cotton only. Even so, take the world as Atman or Brahman. 

When you see any person or object, think and feel that he or it is Atman or Narayana. By incessant practice, the Nama-Rupa, (name and form) will vanish. Atman or Narayana will shine. The world-idea will vanish. It takes a long time. It demands strenuous efforts. You will see and feel Atman or Narayana everywhere. During the course of the practice, your old impressions (Samskaras) will trouble you. They are your real enemies. Fight against them boldly. This is the practice of Samyag Jnana. You will have Samyag Darshan of Atman. You will transmute all objects into Atman. Think and feel that all actions are Atma-Puja. Idea of inferiority and idea of menial service will disappear as you see Narayana or Atman everywhere. 

The Dawn of Jnana 

Just as you know the flowering of mango trees that you will get mango fruits shortly, so also you can know that you will get Abheda-Jnana (knowledge of identity of Atman and Paramatman) when the flower of Shanti (peace) blossoms in your mind. 
Just as the six tastes-sourness, bitterness, astringency, sweetness, saltishness and pungency-are rendered full and enjoyed completely only when the Saktis of tastes and the mind join together, so also the plenum (All-full Brahman) arises when all these articles of worship as contentment, equal vision, etc., are combined with Shanti (peace of mind, quiescence of mind). 

Shanti or peace of mind is of two kinds-Sadharana Shanti (ordinary peace) and Parama Shanti (supreme peace). Ordinary Shanti comes when the Vrittis (modifications in the mind) are controlled and the Vikshepa (tossing of mind) is removed. Parama Shanti manifests when you get Jnana (Knowledge of Brahman or the Absolute).  

Description of the Jnana State (Knowledge of Brahman or the Absolute)

The Jnana state is a state very difficult to be comprehended. It is a tremendously high state wherein all the Tattvas drop by themselves and Chidakasa* only -like the vast, infinite ocean of 'Vyoma' or 'ethereal space' or 'Gagana'-shines by itself. It is the state of pure knowledge which transcends the pleasures of natural scenery and beauties. The beauties of pleasure-gardens, rivers, lakes, snow-clad mountains, green forests, etc., are the creations of Maya. It veils our eyes and prevents us from experiencing the infinite Sahaja (natural) beauty of Atman. The melodious music of birds is also a creation of Maya. It prevents us from hearing the natural Nada of OM-the sweetest Pranava Dhvani. That Nirvana state which transcends all nature is Jnana state.
Chidakasa*: Brahman in Its aspect as limitless knowledge; unbounded intelligence. This is a familiar concept of the Upanishads. It is not meant that the physical ether is consciousness. The Pure Consciousness (Chit) is like the ether (Akasa), an all-pervading continuum.
 Jnana-Mouna is that state wherein the mind remains merged in Brahman or Atman or Svarupa. In this state, there is not the slightest trace of the notion of'I.' As there is no mental activity and as there is no doer, all the Karmas are burnt in the Jnanagni (fire of wisdom). The Jiva feels that he is entirely different from the five Koshas or sheaths, as he identifies himself with the Atman.

In Jnana (in the Absolute), there is neither East nor West, neither dawning nor setting, neither increase nor decrease, neither sitting nor standing, neither life nor death, neither waking consciousness nor dream state, neither talking nor lecturing, neither thinking nor knowing, neither light nor darkness. The three-actor (Karta), action (Karma) and instrument (Karana)- will shine as one in the Self of Jnanis. What an exalted state it is! It is simply marvellous. It is wonderful. One becomes speechless. It can never be adequately described in words.

I sat on Padmasana. I meditated on Atman. I forgot myself and the surroundings. I saw something which I had never seen upto this time. I heard a Nada which I had never heard upto this time. There was a sensation and knowledge that I was absolutely free from all sorts of attachment. I had an experience of new knowledge. The thought of Atman continued for some time. I had a novel experience of pure bliss. It is a void full of Light and Knowledge and Bliss free from vicissitudes of this world.

When the Self (Atman or Brahman) is once recognised and realised, it can never be forgotten. The impression of the recognition of the Self, if once made, can never be obliterated from the mind. It sticks to the mind always.

Mukti  (Liberation)

Liberation (Mukti) is for the mind only. Mukti is for Prakritti. It is not for the Jiva (individual). Jiva is already Brahman. Jiva is ever free. He is identical with Brahman. When the water dries up, the reflection of the sun in water also vanishes. Even so, when the mind-lake dries up by extirpation of all Sankalpas and Vasanas, the reflection of intelligence, Chidabhasa (reflected consciousness on the mind) in the mind-lake, also vanishes. The name Jivatman disappears. Ego goes away. 

Qualifications for The Student of Jnana Yoga 
A man with Antarmukha Vritti (A state in which the mind is turned inwards and is withdrawn from objects), changed angle of vision, Vairagya (dispassion, detachment) and Mumukshutva (intense longing for liberation) is alone fit for the study of Vedanta and the practice of OM and Jnana Yogic contemplation. Such a man only will be really benefited. When a man gets a firm conviction that names and forms are unreal and the Adhishthana (substratum, underlying truth or essence). at their back is real, then it is said that his angle of vision is changed. 
A complete detachment from the outward things, the manifold objects of sense, together with a capacity for metaphysical abstraction and concentration on inward things are demanded from a spiritual aspirant or an earnest seeker after Truth. The voice of the pure spirit cannot be heard till all superficial organs cease to exist. 
For the aspirant in the Jnana-Yogic path, you have the Four Means of Salvation, Sadhana-Chatushtaya, in Vedantic preliminary practice. One of the four means is Shatsampat (six-fold virtues). Of these six virtues: Sama, Dama and Samadhana are really Yogic practices to control the mind. Sama represents the Chitta-Vritti-Nirodha (restraint of thoughts) of Raja Yogis by Vasana-Tyaga (renunciation of desires), Dama corresponds to Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Samadhana is Ekagrata (One-pointedness of the mind) of Yogis. Yoga and Jnana are the two wings of the Hamsa bird (Moksha). 
Sama (calmness of mind through Vasana-Tyaga) and Dama (restraint of the senses) are two important items of Shatsampat. Sama and Dama are really Yogic Kriyas. When this Sadhana is over, you will have to take recourse to Sravana (Hearing of the Srutis or scriptures) and Manana (Constant thinking; reflection; meditation on the eternal verities) When you take to deep Nididhyasana ( Profound and deep meditation), seclusion is necessary for three years. 
The purification of the mind will not, by itself, bring about Brahma-Jnana. The purified mind is rendered fit to receive the transcendental light and Ananda. You will have to take refuge in Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana after purifying the mind. 
Sravana, Manana and Nididhyasana (hearing of Srutis, reflection and then meditation on Brahman) are the three Vedantic processes for the attainment of Jnana (Jnanadvaita-Nishtha). This is the ladder with three rungs through which the Vedanti ascends to Brahman. If you do Sravana or hearing of the Srutis once, you must do Manana ten times (reflection of what you have heard) and a hundred times or a thousand times Nididhyasana (profound and constant meditation). Then only real fruit is attained. 
It is only through your dauntless energy and own indefatigable efforts that you can get Brahma-Jnana. Guru and Sastras can show you the path and remove your doubts. Anubhava of Aparoksha kind (direct, intuitive knowledge) is left for your own experience. A hungry man will have to eat for himself. He who has a severe itching will have to scratch for himself.