[Advaita-l] Self-knowledge

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Fri Jan 27 18:21:58 CST 2006

The following doubt has been raised:

There seems to be some difference of opinion regarding
the nature of self knowledge (Atma j~nAna). i'm of the
opinion that Atma j~nAna is non-intellectual. it's our
svarUpa lakShaNa. apparently, some revered svAmi-s are
of the opinion that self knowledge is intellectual.
let's get things straight. i request the learned
members to share their understanding of this issue -
is self-knowledge intellectual?

vAsudevaH sarvaM,
The answer is:--

Atmaj~nAna is a vRtti, known as akhaNDAkAravRtti and so it is a modification
of the intellect. svarUpaj~nAna is the very nature of the Self. That is the
witness of all the modifications of the mind. It is vRttij~nAna that removes
nescience. So self-knowledge is also intellectual. This has been made very
clear in SrI Sankara's bhAshya on Gita, 2.21:-- yathA budhyAhRtasya ------
vidvAn ucyate".—"The Self, which is immutable, is imagined to be the knower
of objects such as sound, which are actually perceived by the intellect and
the sense-organs. This is because the Self is not distinguished from the
mental modifications, due to nescience. Similarly, the Self is spoken of as
having become enlightened only because of avidyA associating it with that
intellectual perception—which is also unreal—which takes the form of
discrimination between the Self and the not-Self, while in reality the Self
has undergone no change whatever".

 It follows from the above that neither ignorance, nor its opposite,
enlightenment, pertains to the Self. Both relate only to the intellect (or
mind) and are wrongly attributed to the Self, which, however, is ever free
from avidyA.


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