The Self is known and yet not known! (Shivaanandalaharii 58)

Wed Jul 2 09:50:14 CDT 1997

       eko vaarijabaandhavaH kshhitinabhovyaaptaM tamomaNDalaM
         bhitvaa lochanagocharo .api bhavati tvaM koTisuuryaprabhaH |
       vedyaH kiM na bhavasyaho ghanataraM kiidR^igbhavenmattama-
       statsarvaM vyapaniiya me pashupate saakshhaatprasanno bhava ||

       eko vaarijabaandhavaH - the one Sun
       kshhitinabhovyaaptaM - that which pervades earth and heaven
       tamomaNDalaM - the envelope of darkness
       bhitvaa - having destroyed
       lochanagocharo api - visible
       bhavati - becomes
       tvaM - You (are)
       koTisuuryaprabhaH - of the brilliance of a crore suns
       vedyaH kiM na - Why not known
       bhavasi - (do You) become
       aho ghanataraM - Oh! extremely dense
       kiidR^igbhavet.h - of what nature (should it) be
       mattamas - my ignorance (darkness)
       tatsarvaM - all that
       vyapaniiya - get rid of (destroy)
       me - mine
       pashupate - O Lord of pashu's (souls)
       saakshhaat.h - directly
       prasanno - manifest
       bhava - become

       Just one single sun dispels the darkness that pervades earth and
       heaven and becomes visible (to the eyes). But Your brilliance is
       more than a crore (10 million) suns! Why do You not become known
       then (O Lord)? Oh! How dense should the darkness of my ignorance
       be! Destroy all that ignorance of mine and do become directly
       manifest, O Pashupati (Lord of souls).

       Shankara brings out an important point in this verse. The Self,
       Atman which is identical with Brahman, is not fully known even
       though Its brilliance exceeds that of anything conceivable. The
       analogy usually given is the cloudy sky in the presence of the
       sun. Even though we cannot see the sun which is being obscured
       by the clouds, we can still discern the presence of the sun
       behind those clouds by the dimly shining clouds. It is only
       after the clouds vanish do we see the sun as it is. In fact, as soon
       as the clouds are gone, we do not have to make any effort to see
       the sun. It becomes manifest itself. Any effort or action is only
       concerned with the removal of the clouds.

       When the clouds are present, we cannot say that we do not feel the
       presence of the sun. We cannot say that we see the sun either. In a
       similar fashion, the Self is never completely obscured even in the
       state of ignorance. But It is not completely manifest in the state
       of ignorance. VidyaaraNya, in his Panchadashii, gives another
       example. When a father listens to his son's chanting the Vedas in
       a chorus of boys, the father can recognize the fact that his son
       is chanting with the other boys. But the father cannot clearly
       perceive the distinguishing characteristics of his son's voice.
       In this case, the voices of the other boys cause the voice of his
       son to be obscured, but not completely.

       So we are, in the state of ignorance, victims of this paradoxical
       situation where the Self is known and yet not known.

       VidyaaraNya makes this point in the very first chapter of the

       abhaane na paraM prema bhaane na vishhaye spR^ihaa |
       ato bhaane .apyabhaataa .asau paramaanandataatmanaH ||

       If the Self is not revealed then there would not have been
       the supreme love for Its bliss (happiness). If the Self is
       (fully) revealed then there would not have been a desire for
       objects of sense enjoyment. Therefore, we can say that the
       true blissful nature of the Self is revealed and yet not

       Everyone loves eternal happiness or eternal bliss. At the same
       time, those of us who are in ignorance, love the objects of
       sense enjoyment. Is this not paradoxical? This paradoxical
       situation leads to the state where the Self is known and
       yet not known. This paradox is the result of beginningless
       maayaa or avidyaa. It is only when this avidyaa is removed
       that the Self will shine in all Its glory.

       Here Shankara appeals to Brahman as God to remove the dense darkness
       of ignorance of Brahman as jiiva (soul) so that Brahman as Itself
       becomes manifest.


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