Monday, May 21, 2007



Hari Aum

Prostrations to Guru. Prostrations to All.

We will wind up the study of Tattvabodha by summarizing our learning.

Tattavabodha means Self-Knowledge, which means Knowledge about the real nature of the Self. Self-Knowledge is the Ultimate Knowledge knowing which everything will be known. This knowledge can be got by constant practice of Vedantic Sadhana of Sravana, Manana and Nidhidhyaasana. In this work of Shankara, he explains some of the basic terms that are used in the Upanishads and thus helping to understand the import clearly.

In the invocation verse, after prostrating to Vasudeva, Shankara gives the anubandha chathushtayam of the work. The anubandha Chathushthayam is
Vishayam: Self-Knowledge
Prayojanam: Dukha Nivvritti and Sukha Praapti
Adhikaari: Mumukshu, a person who has burning desire to get liberated
Sambandham: learning of this work, reflecting and contemplating on the same.

We can divide this work into 5 topics
1. Sadhana Chathushtayam
2. Atma anatma vivekam, Discrimination between Atman and Anatman
3. Creation
4. Tat tvam Asi
5. Karma and freedom from Karma

1. Sadhana Chathushtayam:
Shankara doesnt start with the explanation of Atman straightaway. He first gives the four fold qualifications which a seeker should be endowed with, without which one will not get the full benefit of learning. For any knowledge one should possess some eligibility criteria without which one will not get full benefit. When a 3rd Standard student tries to attend a 10th Standard mathematics class, he will not gain much from it and though he may spend hours together in the class. In the same way, to apprehend and assimilate the teachings of Guru properly the seeker should possess these four fold qualifications. The four fold qualifications are

i. Vivekam or discrimination: A seeker should be able to discriminate between the Real and Unreal things. As per Scriptures, there is only one Real thing which is Ultimate Reality of Brahman and rest all are Unreal.

ii. Vairagyam or dispassion: By proper discrimination between real and unreal things, the seeker will lose all the desires of the world and will have intense desire towards the Ultimate Reality.

iii. Shamaadhi Shatka Sampathih: There six disciplines which one should have.
a. Shama: control of mind
b. Dama: control of senses
c. Uparama: withdrawl of senses
d. Titiksha: Endurance to the opposites like heat-cold etc
e. Shraddha: faith in the words of Guru and Vedanta
f. Samadhanam: Single-pointedness

iv. Mumukshuthvam: Intense desire to get liberated

Only when a seeker possess all these four fold qualifications, he will be able to apprehend the reality very clearly. Till then, the seeker has to continuously practice.

2. Atma Anatma Viveka:
After giving the four fold qualifications, he defines atman and anatman. Atman is real and Anatma is unreal. Then what is Atma and Anatma? Atma is that which is different gross, subtle and causal body, whcih is beyond the five sheaths, which is the witness of all the three states of experience, which is of the nature of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. When it said that Atman is different from gross, subtle and causal body, then these bodies represent the anatmas. After giving the definition of Atman and Anantman, he explains 3 types of body, 5 sheaths, 3 states of experiences and also the nature of the Self.

i. The 3 types of body are gross, subtle and causal body. The gross body and subtle body is formed from the five elements only, but gross body is formed after the process called Panchikaranam whereas subtle body is formed before the process called panchikaranam. Both the bodies are the result of good deeds done in the past births. Gross body undergoes six modifications like asthi (existence), Jayathe (birth), vardhathe (growth), viparinamathe (maturity), apaksheeyathe (decay) and vinashyathi (Death). Sutble body has 17 parts. 5 organs of perception (Ear, Eye, Tongue, Skin and Nose), 5 organs of action (Speech,Hand, Leg, Excretion and Genital), 5 Vital air (Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana), Mind and intellect. Causal body is of the nature of ignorance, which is beginningless and inexplicable. Causal body is the cause of other two bodies.

ii The 5 sheaths of the body are
a. Annamaya Kosa or Food Sheath: The food sheath is the gross body, which grows by food and goes back to earth
b. Pranamaya Kosa or Vital Air Sheath
c. Manomaya Kosa: The mind and five organs of perception.
d. Vijnaanamaya Kosa: The intellect and five organs of perception
e. Anandamaya Kosa: Ignorance along with the vrittis of the mind (Priya, moda and pramoda).

iii The 3 states of experience
a. Waking State: The state in which all the 3 bodies are present. In this state, the sense organs are active and percieves the objects of the world as per the direction of the mind. Self identified with the waking world is called Viswa
b. Dream State: In this state, the mind projects a world similar to the waking world which is nothing but the impressions formed by the transactions during the waking state. Self identified with the deam world is called Taijasa
c. Deep Sleep State: The state in which there is no duality whatsoever and happiness along with ignorance is Deep sleep state. The Self identified with deep-sleep state is called Prajna

iv Nature of Self
a. Sat: Sat is that which exists on all the three periods of time. Self alone exists on all three periods of time. All the names and forms that are seen is only an illusion in the Self. When the names and forms are removed from all the objects of the world, what remains behind is only Self. Whenever we say "The book is", "The computer is", the 'is-ness' revels the Existence principle of the Self

b. Chit: Chit is Consciousness through the objects are known. When we say something exists, it means that we are conscious about the object. Thus Existence is known through Consciousness.

c. Anandam: Since there is Self alone present, there is no duality at all to desire for, to work for and experience happiness or sorrow. Since there is nothing else apart from the Self, it is ever complete and hence ever blissful.

3. Creation:
Initially before the creation started there was only Brahman. Maya is the illusory power of Brahman from which the five subtle elements are born. The five subtle elements are space, air, fire, water and earth. Maya has 3 gunas namely satvam, rajas and tamo guna.
i. From the Satvic portion of subtle elements are born the organs of perception, Ear is born from the Satvic aspect of Space, Skin from Air or Vayu, Eye from agni, Tongue from water and Nose from earth. From the total Satvic content of the five elements are born the Anthahkaranam or inner instrument. Antahkaranam consists of 4 aspects, Mind (doubting nature), intellect (deciding nature), ego ("I am the doer" nature) and memory (thinking faculty)

ii. From the Rajasic portion of subtle elements are born the organs of action. From the rajasic aspect of space is born the speech, hand from air, leg from fire, genitals from water and anus from earth. From the total Rajasic content of the five elements are born the five vital air.

iii. From the Tamasic portion of the subtle elements are born the gross body after the process of Pancheekaranam.

4. Tat tvam Asi:
Before explaining about the identity between Jiva and Iswara, Shankara explains about the term Jiva and Isvara and their respective natures.
i. Jiva is the reflection of Brahman on the intellect which identifies itself with the gross body and always have the notion that he is different from Isvara. Jiva is Consciousness limited by Avidya.

ii. Isvara is the reflection of Brahman in Maya. Isvara always abides in the Ultimate Reality of Brahman. Isvara is Consciousness limited by Maya
Jiva by nature always thinks that he is different from Isvara and as long as there is this notion, he always goes from birth to birth in the ocean of Samsaaram. Therefore the only solution to the problem is knowing clearly that there is no difference between Jiva and Isvara.

Then a question was raised as to how Jiva and Isvara can be identical though having contracdicting natures, Jiva endowed with ego and limited knowledge whereas Isvara is without ego and all-knowing. To this Shankara gave the answer, the direct meaning of the word Jiva is the one who identifies himself with body and mind complex, but essentially he is Pure Consciousness. In the same way, though Isvara has the qualities as all-knowing and all-pervading, essentially Isvara is also of the nature of Pure Consciousness. Thus, though literally they both seem to be having totally contradictory character, essentially both are identical as both are Pure Consciousness. When a person knows this identity very clearly that Ultimate Reality of Brahman is his very nature, he is known as Jiva Muktha. Just as one has the strong conviction that he is human in the same way, the Jnaani has the strong conviction that he is Brahman. By experience, he knows clearly that he is nothing but Brahman. Such a person is free from the Karmas.

Karma and Freedom from Karma:
There are three types of Karma.
i. Sanchita Karma: Karma that got accumulated over millions and millions of births
ii. Prarabdha Karma: A part of Sanchita karma which has started giving fruits in the current Janma
iii. Agami Karma: The karma that are done in the current janma and results are stored for future janmas.
When a person gets clear conviction that "I am Brahman everything else is only an illusion in the Reality", he crosses over the Samsaaram. The karma phalams are only for the doer and since doer vanishes after the dawn of knowledge, there is no karma phalams as well. Such a person always revels only in the bliss of the Self. Such a jnaani may live in the world just like any other person in the world or may even take resort to forest, but such a person always revels in the bliss of the Self. Therefore it is not right to judge any person by the way he behaves in the world. Shankara goes on to say, when a person does something good to a Jnaani all the good karmas of the Jnaani the other person will get. On the other hand, if a person hurts or teases or abuses a Jnaani then all the bad karmas would go to the person. The person may do it intentionally or unintentionally, if he does bad action to a jnaani like teasing or abusing, he would get the bad karmas of the Jnaani. Therefore, though Jnaanis are not respected as Gurus, but still it is always better to avoid disrespecting them whether in their presence or in their absence. But Jnaani will always remain unaffected, and will always revel in the Bliss of the Self.

With this we have come to the end of the learning of Tattvabodha.

Prostrations to All.

Hari Aum


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