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

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 19 16:54:55 CST 2003

--- Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> >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.
> svAdhyAya involves recollection of what has already been learnt. What
> is
> intended is that no new adhyayana is to be done after saMnyAsa.
> On the other hand, if one takes Apastamba very literally, then there
> arises
> a contradiction between first allowing svAdhyAya and then saying that
> the
> veda should be renounced. It would not arise if we restrict veda to
> mean the
> karma kANDa.

IMHO, there is a better way to resolve the contradiction. 

All of dharma is based on injunctions and prohibitions concerning
actions. A saMnyAsin, though he has renounced all action, has to follow
some kind of dharma for sustenance of the body before the dawn of
knowledge (such as begging for food), and the dharma shAstras have to
cater to these needs. Hence, the injunction for svAdhyAya is in place
as part of a saMnyAsin's dharma to be followed. 

But seeking the Atman does not come under an injunction-prohibition
duality, so the quest for the Atman cannot be an injunction. Thus
Apastamba's dictum to seek the Self can only be a suggestion. The
Apastamba dharma sutra is rare (in fact the only one) in that it
actually goes beyond the call of a dharma shAstra in actually giving
the suggestion of Self-enquiry to the mumukshu. After the suggestions
are taken in (i.e. shravaNa etc.), they lead to Atma-vichAra, where ALL
statements which fall under the duality of truth-untruth are renounced.

The following quote from RM's "Who am I?" says pretty much the same
23. Is it any use reading books for those who long for release?
A: All the texts say that in order to gain release one should render
the mind quiescent; therefore their conclusive teaching is that the
mind should be rendered quiescent; once this has been understood there
is no need for endless reading. In order to quieten the mind one has
only to inquire within oneself what one's Self is; how could this
search be done in books? One should know one's Self with one's own eye
of wisdom. The Self is within the five sheaths; but books are outside
them. Since the Self has to be inquired into by discarding the five
sheaths, it is futile to search for it in books. THERE WILL COME A TIME

This "forget all that one has learned" is what Apastamba calls
renunciation of Truth, Untruth etc. There is simply no other
interpretation that would give meaning to the words "Renunciation of
Truth and Untruth." 


> Indeed, there is no way to properly know "I am brahman" without the
> location
> of the I-thought. Inasmuch as the process of locating it involves
> words, 
> statements
> will naturally arise. In that sense, manana and nididhyAsana on
> upanishad 
> statements
> are exactly the same as the location of the I-thought. It is not as
> if one 
> merely keeps
> chanting "I am brahman" repeatedly.

I'm not talking about chanting at all, we know from VivekachUDAmaNi
(verse 62) that it doesn't do much. But AFAIK,
shravaNa-manana-nididhyAsana all involve statements, inasmuch as they
are hearing-contemplating-constantly meditating on the mahAvAkya. RM
also explains nididhyAsana as quite different from Atma-vichAra in the

> Surely, the final realization
> transcends 
> words, but
> the traditional advaitic view of the upanishad statements such as
> "The Self 
> is brahman"
> is that they embody the path of Self-enquiry, as realized by rishis
> such as 
> vAmadeva etc.

The final realization transcends words, but I believe that RM's path of
Atma-VichAra also transcends words. Of course, there are some
similaritires between RM's Self-enquiry and Vedanta. But there are some
differences also. There is enough evidence that RM taught that the
practice of Atma-vichAra does not involve statements. It is in the
initial process *before* Atma-vichAra that statements are utilized for
the sake of instruction. 

> Vidyasankar


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