[Advaita-l] Self-knowledge

S.N. Sastri sn.sastri at gmail.com
Sat Jan 28 23:27:19 CST 2006

SrI Amuthan wrote on 28.1.2006:--
In your terminology, all that i'm saying is that
svarUpa j~nAna is non-intellectual. vR^itti j~nAna
turns the mind inward and one pointed, but destruction
of the mind can happen only with svarUpa j~nAna. and
it is svarUpa j~nAna which ought to be called self
knowledge. vR^itti j~nAna at best refers to the
AtmAnAtma viveka that springs from guru and vedAnta
upadesha. vR^itti j~nAna itself cannot destroy avidyA
though avidyA cannot be destroyed unless (akhaNDAkAra)
vR^itti j~nAna is present. in other words, vR^itti
j~nAna is necessary, but not sufficient.

No doubt aham sphurana is svarUpa j~nAna. But it is eternally present and
avidyA co-exists with it. So obviously svarUpa j~nAna does not destroy
avidya. Only vRtti j~nAna destroys avidyA. Please see Madhusudana
Sarasvati's commentary on gItA 5.16: When avidya is destroyed, its effect,
namely, identification with the body-mind complex also comes to an end. Then
the person remains in his own true nature as Brahman. This is liberation.

Liberation is only destruction of nescience. It is not the emergence of some
thing new. We are always Brahman, even when we think of ourselves as bound.

See SrI Sankara's bhAshya:--

Br.up.4.4.6.S.B--- *tasmAt avidyAnivRttimAtre
mokshavyavahAra:-------sarpAdinivRtti: *

Therefore, as we have already said, the cessation of ignorance alone is what
is known as liberation, like the disappearance of the snake, for instance,
from the rope when the wrong notion about its existence has been eradicated.
* *

Br.up.4.4.7.S.B---- *ataH moksha: na deSAntaragamanAdi apekshate.*

Therefore, liberation does not imply going to another place (world), etc.

Br.up.4.4.20.S.B--- *j~nAnam cha tasmin parAtmabhAvanivRtti:
eva.--------------------- iti ubhayam api aviruddham eva. *

The knowledge of Brahman means only the cessation of identification with
external things (such as the body, etc). Identity with Brahman is not
something which requires to be attained, since it is always there. Everyone
is in reality always identical with Brahman, but wrongly considers himself
to be something different (due to ignorance). Therefore the scriptures do
not enjoin that identity with Brahman should be attained, but only that the
false identification with things other than Brahman should be given up. When
the identification with other things (such as the body) is eradicated, the
identity with one's own Self, which is natural, prevails. This is what is
meant by the statement that the Self is realized. In itself the Self is
unknowable, that is to say it cannot be made the object of any means of
knowledge (*pramANa). *
Therefore the vRitti j~nAna destroys avidyA and then it itself disappears
and the person remains as Brahman. You may know the classical example. The
heat of the sun cannot by itself burn a piece of straw. But when this heat
is focussed through a lens it burns the straw. svarUpaj~nAna is like the sun
and vRtti j~nAna is like the heat through the lens. svarUpa j~nAna is no
doubt beyond the intellect because it alone is pAramArthika (absolute
reality), while the intellect is only vyAvahArika (empirical reality).
ramaNa mahaRshi's staements do not at all contradict the

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