[Advaita-l] Brahmajnani / Atmajnani - some points to ponder

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 7 09:31:38 EDT 2018

PraNAms -


Just some points to ponder without getting lost in the bhashyaas, vaartikaas and the hair-splitting interpretations. 


On Thursday, June 7, 2018, 2:53:40 AM EDT, V Subrahmanian via Advaita-l <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

Very nicely stated.

अहं सर्वप्रत्ययसाक्षिभूतश्चेतयिता केवलो निर्गुणो    Ishavasya 6th mantra

स आत्मा सर्वबोधान्प्रतिबुध्यते सर्वप्रत्ययदर्शी चिच्छक्तिस्वरूपमात्रः
प्रत्ययैरेव प्रत्ययेष्वविशिष्टतया लक्ष्यते ; नान्यद्द्वारमन्तरात्मनो
विज्ञानाय ।    Kenopanishad 2.4  bhashya. He says: There is no other way to
realize the Self than to know it to be the witness of all thoughts.


We all know that Bhashyaas and further commentaries are intended to grasp the essence of the teaching of the scriptures. 


Sarvam – a simple meaning is – everything, without any exception – sarvam khalu idam -obviously pointing to all idams – everything that can be objectified – and it has to be Brahman since Brahman means infinite which has to include everything without any exceptions, by definition. ‘Khalu’ is used for emphasis as a pointer to our mind – since the teaching is to the mind that has a desire to know. 


Aatma or self cannot be excluded even though it is not an object but a subject, which cannot be objectified. Since aatma has to be the existence-conscious entity, scripture provides another statement that is considered as one of the mahaavaakyas  -consciousness is infinite – prajnaanam brahman. Thus, for self-consistency, Atmaa and Brahman have to be equal as emphasized again by many other scriptural statements – ayam aatma brahman or aham brahmaamsi or purnam idam and purnam adam (aham) statements. Scriptures themselves jump from Brahman to aatma as if they are the same – see Tai. Up after defining Braham as satyam jnanam anatam – in the very next line – jumps to aatmaa in describing creation – aatmanaH aakaashaH sambhuutaH…etc, and aatmaa eva upaaseeta in Bri. Up. 


‘How to realize (that) aatma or Brahman’ is the essential purpose of all these discussions.


As Subbuji is pointing out the Kenopanishat statement – pratibhoda viditam matam – consciousness that I am is revealed in every thought. I am the witnessing consciousness that is revealed in every thought. Vedanta Paribhasha says, the knowledge of every object (sarvam) takes place when a corresponding thought (vRitti) arises in the mind (via sense input). Thus, the existence of the object out there is transformed into a thought in the mind with the reflected attributes of the object forming the contents of the thought. Thus, the existence of the object is now transformed as the thought-existence. Since the thought is a subtle material, the all-pervading consciousness that falls on the thought is now gets reflected by the thought, which Vedanta Paribhasha calls as the unification of the consciousness that I am with the existence of the object as this is for me to be conscious of the existence of the thought and thus conscious of the existence of the object out there. 


Without I, being conscious of the object out there, the existence of any object out there cannot be established. Hence existence of an object – and thus the existence of sarvam – everything or the whole world of creation – cannot be established without the consciousness that I am is united with the existence of this for me to be conscious of the existence of any this and thus consciousness of the world out there. If I am not conscious of existence of any this, then its existence of the world cannot be proved – just as existence of any object in the pitch-dark room cannot be provided until I see it. It reduces to an indeterminate problem since any object may or may not exist, hence anirvachaneeyam or indeterminate. 


Witness consciousness that I am cannot be witnessed.  However, the instruction for self-realization is to RECOGNIZE that there cannot be a reflection of the consciousness (chidaabhaasa) without the original consciousness. Hence witnessing therefore really means shifting the mind’s attention to the original one (which cannot be witnessed) using the reflected one. It is like recognizing mentally the original sunlight while looking at the moonlight while looking at the moon and ignoring the moon. In this case – it is ‘as though’ the moon itself has to be looking at its own light and recognize the sunlight. Thus, moon while looking at itself has to shift its attention from itself and pay attention to the light that gets reflected by its presence (since the moon is not self-luminous by nature) and see or recognize or realize the original sunlight. 


By the by, the moon is the presiding deity of the mind. 


Hence Witnessing consciousness in every thought that raises in the mind – involves the mind itself looking at every thought and shifting its attention from the thought to that because of which mind is conscious of the thought. Thus, it is not the thought (neti, neti, ..) but that because of which every thought, thus every object, and thus sarvam or this entire world or creation, is revealed to the mind.  Without that revelation, the existence of the world cannot be established. 


The biggest problem is – it is easy to say and discuss all this – but most difficult to do it. When I first got exposed to JK talks when I was in the 12th grade or PUC – he mentioned that one has to ‘uncondition the mind’ by observing the mind. He did not mention who is one who is observing mind for it to be unconditioned. I struggled so hard to do without realizing that it is the mind that must observe the mind. Since it became impossible to observe the mind, I felt that it is a useless pursuit until I got exposed to Vedanta. 


The essential problem is for the mind to act as witnessing agent to observe itself or the thoughts that arise in the mind, one (the mind again) requires an absolute detachment or vairagya to be able to stand apart without getting carried away with the thought-contents or object or the world – and see or RECOGNIZE or realize the consciousness that reveals the thought – and thus the object and thus the world – and CLAIM that I am that consciousness-existence because of which the existence and the consciousness of every object or the world is established. In essence, a part of the mind is an observing mind and the part of the mind as the thought is the observed mind. 


For that to be effective the observer mind must ‘as though’ get detached from the observed mind, which is the thought or vRitti that rises in the mind. Then using Vedanta knowledge, further CLAIM that I am that consciousness that is revealing both the observed mind and observer mind and the pure consciousness-existence I am Brahman or infinite. For that, Vedantic knowledge is essential for the discriminative intellect. 


That claim also must occur in the mind only. 


Self-Realization is abiding by that knowledge or constantly being aware that I am that awareness or consciousness that is aware or conscious of both the observed mind (thoughts) and the observer mind (subject). In the language of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi these constitute idam vRitti and aham vRitti. ‘I am’ – is beyond both – as to be recognized by the mind only. 


To claim and abide in that – is all the life struggles since mentally we are unable to detach ourselves to be just witnessing consciousness without getting carried away with witnessed objects. 


Hence practicing vairagya becomes important sadhana or a tool to get detached with the contents of the thought while paying attention to that because of which each thought is revealed, while still having thoughts. That is the essence of Meditation too. Instead of any other thought, it helps to have the same thought repeated and again so that one can get detached from the thought. That forms the essence of Japa-yoga, Iswara darashanam in the form of an objective thought becomes swaatma darshanam when the mind’s attention shifts to the consciousness that reveals every thought and thus every object in the world and thus the whole world. 


All the obstacles for self-realization arise because of not having that requisite vairagya. Hence constant reflection on the teaching and the associated sadhana form the essential tool for understanding the essence of the teaching. That forms the nidhidhyaasna and it is hoped that these discussions help the mind to develop that without getting lost in the intricacies of the logic. Naishaa tarkena matiraapamneya is the warning by the scriptures. 


Hari Om!










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