[Advaita-l] References for Atma vichAra in shruti/smriti

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 16 21:55:21 CST 2003

--- Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >I'm trying to locate references in shruti/smR^iti which treat
> >Self-enquiry as being independent of the scriptures, and have found
> a
> >single reference so far in the Apastamba dharma sUtra
> >
> >satyAnR^ite sukhaduHkhe vedaaniM lokamamuM cha parityajya aatmaanaM
> >anvichchhet.h .
> >"Truth and untruth, pleasure and pain, the Vedas, this world and the
> >next, renouncing (all these, the parivrAjaka saMnyAsin) shall seek
> the
> >Self."
> Given that the Apastamba is a very traditional dharmaSAstra author,
> we have 
> to understand this quotation in cultural/historical context. A
> strictly 
> literal interpretation of the word "vedAn" in the above quote would
> preclude 
> even the upanishat mahAvAkya-s. I do not think that is the intention
> of 
> Apastamba. What is meant is probably the renunciation of all karma
> and the 
> veda associated with performance of karma. As sureSvara says in his 
> naiShkarmyasiddhi 1. 52, "sarva-karma-tat-sAdhana-saMnyAsaH" is prior
> to 
> Self-enquiry.
> Even today, the saMnyAsa manuals state that one who has renounced
> should not 
> do adhyayana (study) of the vedas. This does not mean that the
> upanishads 
> are not to be studied. What is meant is that studying to chant the
> ritual 
> portions of the vedas (mantra) is given up. Consequently, a saMnyAsin
> cannot 
> officiate at or personally perform vedic rituals. On the other hand,
> various 
> upAsanas on brahman are taught in the upanishads and these are meant
> to aid 
> in Self-enquiry. These are not immediately renounced by the
> saMnyAsin, 
> although they are technically actions.

Thanks for pointing out that the term "Vedaan" can refer specifically
to the Karma KANDa, but there is the additional exhortation of the
renunciation of Truth and Untruth, which has to necessarily include all
statements. Also, Apastamba actually permits the study of the Veda to a
parivrAjaka-saMnyAsin, for three verses before (, he says
that svAdhyAya -- self-study (obviously of the Veda) -- shall be done
by the saMnyAsin.

Verse 14, says: "He (the saMnyAsin) obtains salvation if he knows the
Atman." It feels like the AtmAnamanvichchhet of the previous verse is
the "final Self-enquiry" that leads directly to knowledge of the Self.

According to Ramana Maharshi, the one and only way to Atma GYAna is
through Atma VichAra. Although he sometimes says that the upanishadic
statements are the way, he always says that one must do Atma-vichAra
after studying the upanishads. Here is a quote, just for example: "'Who
am I?' is a different technique from the meditation - 'I am Siva' or 'I
am He'. I rather emphasize Self-Knowledge, for you are first conscerned
with yourself before you proceed to know the world or its Lord. The 'I
am He' or 'I am Brahman' meditation is more or less mental, but the
quest for the Self of which I speak is a direct method and is superior
to it." (Talks)

If I'm not mistaken, shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana are all
concerned with the upanishadic statements alone. Self-enquiry that RM
teaches is not concerned with statements at all, but is "location of
the I-thought", which according to him, is THE WAY. "Everyone has gone
this way only".


> Vidyasankar


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