[Advaita-l] Self-knowledge

Amuthan aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Thu Feb 2 12:56:43 CST 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear shrI satyan chidambaran,

--- Satyan Chidambaran <satyan_c_at_yahoo.com> wrote:
> If what you are stating is  *not* prasAnkhyana
> vAda, please  illustrate the difference between what
> you say and what  prasAnkyana vAdins say.

i don't know much about prasa~nkhyAna vAda other than
the fact that it is a school of thought (based on
yoga) that existed before AchArya's time. but i guess
the reference to the particular portion of AchArya's
bR^i. up. bhAShya that you provided in your previous
mail 'apare varNayanti upAsanena ... ityAdIni' (1.4.7)
is a description of prasa~nkhyAna vAda. if there is
much more to prasa~nkhyAna vAda than this, please
write about it with appropriate references so that the
comparison can be made in detail.  

what i said earlier is different from the view (of
prasa~nkhyAna vAdin-s) stated above. of course,
prasa~nkhyAna is the same as sAkShAtkAra. during
sAkShAtkAra, one remains as the AtmA. an awareness
does exist even there (svarUpa j~nAna) and that is not
something new since that is present in all our
experiences (all of us intuitively know it as the
notion of 'i'). besides, the knowledge that one
obtains as a result of this sAkShAtkAra is not new in
the sense that it does not contradict what is taught
in the shruti-s. it is also not the case that it
generates a new knowledge that is absent in the
shruti-s. the only difference is that sAkShAtkAra
makes the knowledge gained from the shruti-s an
aparokSha j~nAna. it is only by aparokSha tattva
j~nAna that avidyA is destroyed. 

MS says in his gUDhArtha dIpikA (12.12): '...j~nAnAt
shravaNa manana pariniShpannAdapi dhyAnaM
nididhyAsanasaMj~naM vishiShyate atishayitaM bhavati.
** sAkShAtkArAvyavahitahetutvAt. **' - '...better than
knowledge attained by the perfection of shravaNa and
manana is the the practise of meditation, called
nididhyAsana, ** since it is a direct means to
sAkShAtkAra - direct realization **'. now, to
understand the role of sAkShAtkAra, it is sufficient
to note that there is an ocean of a difference between
a brahmavit and a mumukShu who does nididhyAsana
though the intellect of both of them are not destroyed
completely. both of them declare 'ayamAtmA brahma' but
there is a huge difference between the two. while the
mumukShu has only parokSha j~nAna, the brahmavit has
aparokSha j~nAna. (here, i'm using the term
'brahmavit' as explained in an earlier mail while
talking the seven stages ...)

regarding the other portion of AchArya's bhAShya that
you referred to (bR^i.up. 1.4.7), ''AtmetyevopAsIta'
... mokSho.avidyA nivR^ittirvA', bhagavatpAda refutes
the view that meditation on the self is an apUrva
vidhi and establishes that it is a niyama vidhi. after
refuting other views, AchArya says later on (bR^i.up.
1.4.7) 'yattUktaM 'vij~nAya praj~nAM kurvIta'
ityAdivAchanAnAM vAkyArthavyatirekeNa
upAsanArthatvamiti ** satyametat. ** kintu
nApUrvavidhyarthatA. pakShe prAptasya niyamArthataiva'
- 'you said that sentences like 'to know this (i.e.
the self) (he) should get intuitive knowlege' etc.
show the necessity of meditation in addition to
knowing the meaning from the (shruti) vAkya. ** that
is true. ** but it is not an apUrva vidhi. since it is
already known as an alternative, it is only a niyama
vidhi.' the point is that the knowledge of the self
gained from the shruti vAkya-s naturally leads to
meditation on the self and is not a vidhi that has to
be enforced because it was not known earlier. i don't
see how this goes against what i said earlier. 

coming back to the topic, aparokSha j~nAna can spring
from shravaNa alone only in the rarest case. for most
candidates, what is obtained during shravaNa is only
parokSha j~nAna. in His bR^i. up. bhAShya (2.4.5),
bhagavatpAda says 'yadaikatvametAnyupagatAni tadA
saMyagdarshanaM brahmaikatvaviShayaM prasIdati **
nAnyathA shravaNamAtreNa **' - 'when these (shravaNa,
manana and nididhyAsana) are done, then the unity of
brahman becomes clear, ** not otherwise, by hearing
alone. **'

let me state what i understand by parokSha and
aparokSha j~nAna in this context. suppose that there
is a diamond in front of you that is covered by dirt
and because of which it appears like an ordinary glass
piece. now, if someone whom you trust tells you that
it is actually a diamond, you get parokSha j~nAna (it
is j~nAna since it destroys ignorance regarding it's
nature). when you remove the dirt, you get a direct
knowledge of the diamond and that is aparokSha j~nAna.
similarly, knowing the truth of the self from the guru
is parokSha j~nAna. when, as a result of that j~nAna,
the mind subsides and we remain as our self, that is
aparokSha j~nAna and that is sAkShAtkAra. please note
that sAkShAtkAra is not the cause of svarUpa j~nAna.
the self is ever present and during sAkShAtkAra one
remains as the self alone. and attaining sAkShAtkAra
is not the same as mukti as was elaborated earlier.

to understand the situation better, let us consider a
qualified mumukShu who hears the truth of the self
from his guru. if he gets an aparokSha j~nAna
immediately, that itself is sattvApatti and manana and
nididhyAsana are not necessary for him. the tattva
j~nAna that results is itself an aparokSha j~nAna. if
on the other hand, even after hearing the truth of the
self, he does not remain as the self and he still
perceives a world of duality, then the intellectual
conviction regarding the self that he has deserves to
be called parokSha j~nAna since it is obviously not
the same as the aparokSha tattva j~nAna that the
uttamAdhikAri gets.  

it is not correct to say that during shravaNa, the
self is present and thus the knowledge obtained is
itself aparokSha j~nAna. no doubt the self is ever
present, but a mere intellectual knowledge of the self
cannot be called aparokSha j~nAna just as knowing that
the glass like object seen is a diamond (in the above
example) without removing the dirt cannot be called
aparokSha j~nAna though the diamond is always present.

and regarding the discussion on nididhyAsana, i said
that *your* description of nididhyAsana is infact a
means to samAdhi. it just happens you don't think it
to be so. but since the laws relating to the mind are
not different for a vedAntin or a yogi or a laukIka, i
stated what was inevitable from the practice of
nididhyAsana that you referred to.

moreover, the practise of samAdhi, though certainly
not a cause for mokSha, is nevertheless a very
important tool in the same way that other disciplines
like shama, dama etc., while not being causes for
mokSha, are nevertheless necessary. the kaTha shruti
that was referred earlier ('yachChedvA~NmanasI...'
1.3.13) is a clear description of a means to
nirvikalpa samAdhi. the kaTha shruti that you referred
to ('eSha sarveShu ...' 1.3.12) talks of an agryA
buddhi (sharp / subtle intellect). and bhagavatpAda
says that the means to acquire this subtle intellect
('sUkShmaM draShTuM shIlaM') is described in the next
verse 'yachChedvA~NmanasI ...'
('tatpratipattyupAyamAha ...'). though not explicitly
stated, the upAya taught in 'yachChedvA~NmanasI ...'
is a definite description of the means to nirvikalpaka
samAdhi as is apparent from the pAta~njalIya yoga
sUtra-s. an explanation to this effect was infact
provided in the previous mail (towards the end, when
discussing the nature of nididhyAsana) with explicit
reference to the relevant sUtra-s. 

i hope i have not myself more unclear :-)

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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