[Advaita-l] Self-knowledge

Amuthan aparyap at yahoo.co.in
Mon Jan 30 05:39:36 CST 2006

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear shrI S.N.shAstrI,

first of all, a clarification. i never stated that
liberation is something to be freshly obtained or that
it is something other than destruction of avidyA.
there is no disagreement regarding the nature of
liberation. the problem is only regarding the nature
of self knowledge. i'm saying this because two of your
references (to AchArya's bhAShya on bR^i.up. 4.4.6.
and 4.4.7.) deal only with liberation and say nothing
about the nature of self knowlege (only the part you
referred to).

the subject of self knowledge is not as simple as what
i earlier fancied it to be. i'll accept what you said
earlier and draw this discussion to an end if you
agree on one important point. but to set the stage for
that, a lot has to be said. to make sense of the
entire issue, let's look at how a jij~nAsu becomes a
jIvanmukta. (this is predominantly based on MS'
commentary). though this digresses considerably from
our topic of discussion, it serves to set the basis
for any further discussion. most of this has been
covered earlier as part of MS' avatArikA to the gItA,
but here, it is presented a little deeper and with
some new terminology.

one who has a shubhechChA (a desire to get liberated)
and one who has all the qualifications for vedAnta
shravaNa (a qualified mumukShu in short) approaches a
guru. if he is an uttamAdhikAri, the moment he hears
the truth from his guru, he'll realize his own self.
but for others, manana and nididhyAsana are necessary.
MS says that after shravaNa and manana, the
asambhAvanA (impossiblity of existence) of brahman is
removed. this stage is known as vichAraNA (enquiry).
these is a purely intellectual process.

what remains is to remove the false notion that 'i am
the body, mind etc.'. as you have pointed out, when
this avidyA is removed, the self shines of it's own
accord. this viparIta bhAvanA (wrong notion) regarding
the self is removed by nididhyAsana. as BP says in the
dashashlokI, the self is suShuptyekasiddhaH, i.e. it
has to be known as in the state of deep sleep
(incidentally, he also mentions this in his bhAShya
for bR^i.up.4.4.6.). this requires a one pointed mind
which can grasp subtle things. this is referred to as
tanumAnasA. the entire set of yoga shAstra-s find
their use here. all these three stages (shubhechCha,
vichAraNA and tanumAnasA) are referred to as the
jAgradavasthA since a world is present in all these

for one who has reached this state, upon hearing the
upaniShadic texts like 'tattvamasi', there arises a
direct experience of the unity of the self and brahman
(...vedAntavAkyAt nirvikalpako
brahmAtmaikyasAkShAtkAraH, to quote the original
text). this is referred to as sattvApatti. one who has
reached this state sees the world as a dream and
hence, it is known as svapnAvasthA. such a one is
known as a brahmavit (knower of brahman) for he has
had a direct experience of the self.

this sattvApatti matures into asaMsakti, where the
subject object duality vanishes. this is what is
commonly known as nirvikalpa samAdhi. since there is
neither a subject nor an object, this state
(nirvikalpa samAdhi) is also referred to as suShupti
(deep sleep). but this is NOT the end since the mind
can spring back from samAdhi. a person in this state
is known as a brahmavid vara. he frequently enters
into nirvikalpa samAdhi, but comes back by himself
(this is known as vyutthAna).

when the mind is repeatedly 'merged' in brahman by
means of nirvikalpa samAdhi, this leads to a higher
state known as padArthAbhAvanI (complete absence of
objects). one who has reached this stage (a brahmavid
varIyAn), comes back only if someone else 'wakes' him

upto this stage, it is clear that the mind is not
destroyed. the last stage, turIya, is that in which
the mind is totally destroyed. the person remains a s
brahman. extending the earlier terminolgy, he is
called a brahmavid variShTha. this is the state of
jIvanmukti or videha mukti.

thus, the transition from a jij~nAsu to a jIvanmukta
has been described as a journey from jAgradavasthA to
turIya. this is quite a different interpretation of
the terms jAgrat etc. as compared to their normal

as we can see, a lot of things happen after
nididhyAsana and before jIvanmukti. before jIvanmukti,
the mind is not destroyed and after sattvApatti, there
is a direct experience of the self. this is what MS
says regarding the nature of direct knowledge results
from nirvikalpa sAkShAtkAra - '...antaHkaraNavR^ittau
pratiphalitaM samAdhiparipAkena sAkShAtkaroti' - '
...through the maturity of samAdhi, he sees (the self)
*as reflected in the intellect*'. thus, there is
certainly an intellectual knowledge of the self that
arises *after* nirvikalpaka sAkShAtkAra. if you call
*this* intellectual knowledge as vR^itti j~nAna, then
there is no more disagreement. this j~nAna does in
fact destroy avidyA and in the process destroys itself
as is evident from sureShvara's shrIsUkti,

'avidyAghAtinaH shabdAdyAhaM brahmeti dhIrbhavet.
 nashyatavidyayA sArdhaM hatvA rogamivauShadham..' 

'the (intellectual) realization of the form 'i am
brahman' that springs from the words (of the
upaniShad-s) destroys avidyA and in the process,
destroys itself, just like a medicine after curing an

what shrI sureShvara refers to here is evidently the
sattvApatti stage. this is my understanding so far. to
sum up, there does indeed arise a special knowledge in
the intellect *after* a direct experience of the self
which destroys avidyA. if you agree on this, then we
can call the discussion to an end.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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