some thoughts on the mind - 3
gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Wed May 5 08:39:25 CDT 1999
[I do hope the members excuse me for presenting this text in an oral
style. As I mentioned before, the text was prepared for oral presentation
to an audience in a lecture hall. I tried to put in various references
for the written version, but still the text mainly retains an oral style.]
Before I continue on the manas, a brief digression here on to advaitic
literature and explanation of observations and creation as per advaita.
The first systematic work in advaita is MAndUkya-kArikA by GauDapAda,
which is an exposition of the MAnDUkya upanishad. GauDapAda historically
is referred as Shri Shankara's teacher's teacher and MAnDUkya-kArikA was
referred profusely by the later advaitic writers including Shri Shankara.
I like to touch on briefly the essence of MAnDukya-kArikA, which is the
essence of advaita. The central theme is that ultimately there is nothing
other than the Atman that is real. Atman is Brahman. All the experience
of "otherness" is because of wrong and illusory knowledge. With this as
basis, the central theme of MAnDUkya-kArikA is that every aspect of
experience is illusory.
Ishwara is Brahman, the Absolute or ultimate reality, seen through the
veil of mAyA. Ishwara is regarded as the creator of the world of duality.
If jeeva alone is real and if everything else is illusory, the question
can be asked who created this dualistic world. Answer to this is actually
there is no world created. The whole world of things and ideas is only
the imagination of the manas (cittaspandana eva ManDUkya-kArikA MK 4.72).
If at all there is creation, it can be explained this way. During pralaya,
all things and ideas are destroyed. They remain in dormant form in the
mind of Ishwara and during creation, they again take form and shape. The
individual jeeva is also created then; he/she is a product of imagination
and competent to effect further imagination (MK 3.2). We can compare this
creation to the standard rope-snake illusion. Only here, the difference
is, Ishwara knows which is the rope and which is the snake whereas the
individual jeeva is capable of knowing only the snake and imagines that
to be the truth.
In order to understand the functioning of the manas (to gain knowledge),
we need to be aware of another thing also. The individual jeeva is encased
in many coverings called koshAs (br^hadAraNyaka upanishad III.2). They are
annamaya kosha, made of food and matter
prANamaya kosha, vital breath, subtler than the physical
manomaya, the mental sheath, subtler than the breath
vijnAnamaya, the intellectual sheath responsible for all empirical
and Anandamaya, made of bliss
These are only sheaths and not the real Self. These five koshAs can be
regrouped into three.
annamaya, an entity by itself, the gross body
prANa, manas, and vijnAna: can be grouped to refer to the psychical
and Ananadamaya, bliss or happiness
This grouping shows that the psychical states are subtler than the
physical states, but still the manas is material only and is an
aspect of the perishable body.
Explaining the scheme of creation, Shri Shankara says that first the
subtle elements are created of which ether is the first and then all
other elements in their subtle form come into existence (Katha upanishad
bhAshhya 1.3.34). All these originate from Brahman and go back into Brahman.
Also, there is scriptural evidence (e.g. ChAndogya upanishad, chapter 6)
that food when eaten becomes three-fold: its grossest portion becomes faeces,
its middle portion flesh, and its subtlest portion the mind. That is,
according to vedanta, mind is subtle matter.
sasheshham (to be continued)
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