Liberation and citta vRtti nirodha

Charles Wikner WIKNER at NAC.AC.ZA
Mon Jul 10 03:20:41 CDT 2000

On Thu, 29 Jun 2000, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

> There is a lot of confusion about meditation, liberation, Advaita, Yoga
> and their mutual relationships. This confusion extends to both academic
> treatments of the philosophy and practice-wise for many people.
> With respect to this subject, one should read Sankaracarya's commentary on
> bRhadAraNyaka upanishad 1. 4. 7, and the related vArttika by Suresvaracarya.
> I provide the Sanskrit text of the relevant portion, requesting translation
> and comments by other list members who know Sanskrit well.

That leaves me out.  I think I'll go and sulk.  :-)

> The reason is
> that I would myself like a fresh translation, to compare with how I have
> understood the text, and this will benefit other members who do not know
> Sanskrit very well.

Like me!  There has been no response to your request, so I'll have a go.

> I have split the text into constituent words where possible.
> The text being explained in the bhAshya is AtmA ity eva upAsIta. The
> comments would apply equally well, in the context of AtmA vA are Srotavyo
> drashTavyo mantavyo nididhyAsitavyaH, or tajjalAn ity upAsIta.
> pUrvapaksha (opponent's thesis) -
> nirodhas tarhy arthAntaram iti cet. atha api syAc citta-vRtti-nirodhasya
> veda-vAkya-janita-Atma-vijnAnAd arthAntaratvAt. tantrAntareshu ca
> kartavyatA avagatatvAd vidheyam iti cet.
kartavyatayA in my edition (which is full of typos).

Well, control is another case: there is a similarity of purpose in
Self-knowledge arising from statements of the Veda and control of
the movements of the mind (Y.S. 1.2), and also the methods used in
other system.  Let these be employed.

> Sankaracarya's response -
> na. moksha-sAdhanatvena anavagamAt. na hi vedAnteshu brahma-Atma-vijnAnAd
> anyat parama-purushArtha-sAdhanatvena avagamyate.

No, because these are not known as a means to liberation.  Furthermore,
no other means of reaching the final goal of man, other than knowledge
of the identity of Atman and Brahman, is known in VedAnta.

> A few lines later,
> ananya-sAdhanatvAc ca nirodhasya. na hy Atma-vijnAna-tat-smRti-saMtAna-
> vyatirekeNa citta-vRtti-nirodhasya sAdhanam asti. abhyupagamya idam uktam.
> na tu brahma-vijnAna-vyatirekeNa anyan moksha-sAdhanam avagamyate.

And because there is no other means of restraint; without Self-knowledge
and continuous memory of That, there is really no means of controlling
the movements of the mind.  That has been admitted; nevertheless no
other means to liberation is known without knowledge of Brahman.
(I lost it badly there.)

> Further down in the same passage in the bhAshya, as part of Sankaracarya's
> conclusion,
> samyag-jnAna-prAptAv-apy avaSyaM-bhAvinI-pravRttir vAN^g-manaH-kAyAnAm.
>   .........   tasmAt tyAga-vairAgyAdi-sAdhana-bala-avalambena
> Atma-vijnAna-smRti-saMtatir niyantavyA bhavati.

Even after the attainment of right knowledge, the natural activity of
speech, mind and body, necessarily [continues] due to the power of
actions [engaged in] prior to the state of knowledge [1].  Thus do
the liberated etc. seem to lead active lives.  On the other hand,
the impotence of action over knowledge is demonstrated thereby.
Therefore, the uninterrupted memory of knowledge of the Self becomes
restraint, through the supporting strength of practices such as
renunciation and detachment.
[1] labdha-vritti -- later in this commentary, Shankara indicates
that j~nAna and lAbha are synonymous: j~nAna-lAbhayor ekArthatvasya
vivakSitatvAt |  Also one of the meanings of the dhAtu vid is
'to attain': vidL lAbhe.

Dreadful, I know: it's the syntax that throws me.

The gist I have is that the objector is speaking of controlling
(suppressing) tha activity of the mind *temporarily* for some
personal benefit, whereas Shankara is speaking of transcending
the transient limitations imposed by the mind *permanently*:
by continuous memory of the Self, the distinction between the
mind and its contents, between the mind and the Self, becomes
blurred and fades away -- ultimately, who would control the
mind, and through what?

It is interesting that the objector quotes the Yoga Sutras, a work
that strikes me as an instruction manual for a spiritual ego trip;
it stops well short of the realisation indicated by advaita.  Yoga
seems to end with nirvikalpa samAdhi, a deightful experience but
not much different from deep sleep: awareness of absence of objects,
versus absence of awareness of objects.  I suspect that this may be
the void of the Buddhists, the mystical union of the bhaktas, and
what advaita call Anandamayakosha or avyakta.  This seems to be where
the devotional and purely intellectual paths meet, but it is still
dvaita: there is awareness and its object (void) -- two!  It is very
sAttvika for some time afterwards, but obviously not guNAtIta; there
is still the final step of positive Knowledge (capital-K), or turIya,
the fourth quarter of OM in the mANDUkya.  The illustration of Indra
and Virocana approaching PrajApati for instruction, comes to mind,
in particular Indra's final approach Ch.8.11.1 ff.

The trouble with controlling the mind, is who is doing the controlling!
Nevertheless it does have its place in the scheme of things, for it
may become tyAga-vairAgyAdi in time.  Shankara's direction of
Atma-vij~nAna-smRti-santati is clearly aimed at *transcending* the
mind (guNAH), rather than controlling (suppressing) it.

It is interesting to note that the word nirodha introduced by the
objector, is, in the end, replaced by Shankara with niyantavya, a
future *passive* participle.  It is also quite revealing to examine
the dhAtU of these words:

   rudhir Avarane (covering, concealing, enclosing, obstructing)
   yama uparame (cessation, leaving off, desisting, giving up)

Vidya, you have the ability to produce exactly the right bit of
scripture at precisely the right time!  Thanks for the opportunity
to rub my nose in it.  I hope that my amateur efforts have not
muddied the water too much and discourage others from producing
an accurate translation.

> ps. To read about a perfect, recent example of an embodiment of the above
> Advaita position, check the following -
> Yoga, enlightenment, and perfection of Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswamigal,
> [ed] by R.M. Umesh. 1st ed. Chennai: Sri Vidyatheertha Foundation, 1999.

Where can one order a copy?

Regards, Charles.

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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