Mayavada Darpanam

Monday, March 05, 2007

Attack on anubandha chatushtayam of Advaita based on shruti - 7


Prostrations to all.

In the previous mail we saw the advaitin commenting on the last sloka of the purushottama yoga. The advaitin mentioned that through knowledge of the Self thereby being established in the Self alone is the goal of human life & it is only through this that the seeker gains the krithakrithya bhaava (having done whatever is to be done).

The advaitin now gives quotations to support his interpretation of the sloka.

He continues thus:

Etaduktham aacharyaih
“janthoonaam narajanma durlabhamatah pumstvam tatho viprathaa
Tasmaat vaidika dharma maarga parathaa vidvatvam asmaat param
Atmaanatma vivechanam sva anubhavo brahmanaa samsthithir
Mukthirno shata janma koti sukrithai punyair vinaa labhyathe” ithi

Thus has acharya (Sankaracharya) proclaimed:

Human birth is the rarest of all births; rare than that is manhood; still rarer is the desire to learn; more than that is leading a life as prescribed in the scriptures; being learned in the scriptures is still rarer than that; having learnt the scripture and being able to discriminate between the Atman and Anaatman is still rare; rarer than that is experiencing the Self as one’s nature; being established in Brahman is the rarest of all things; such a person is liberated – this is not achieved without the help of punyas gained in hundreds of crores of lives.


The above is the 2nd sloka of Vivekachoodamani. This is a sloka very important for a seeker to judge himself as to where he stands in terms of spiritual progress. Thus ultimately a seeker is either realized or in ignorance, scriptures like yoga vasistha and others speak about different levels while progressing in the spiritual path.

The first and foremost thing for a seeker is being born as a human. We all know the story of Jada Bharatha where he was born as a deer but still remembering the Lord. But he couldn’t become a jeevan muktha with the deer-birth and hence had to take another human birth for the same. The human birth is superior to all other beings because of two-fold reason. One is that humans alone are gifted with the intellectual capability of discriminating between the real and unreal. This discrimination power is not merely knowing things but the real discrimination of knowing that Brahman alone is real and everything is unreal. Unless a seeker uses discrimination to contemplate on Brahman, he is not different from animals (Sankara boldly calls humans who are not in the spiritual path as pashus or animals in the adhyaasa bhashya). Second reason is that human beings alone can decide their fate and go against innate nature of attachment to particular activities or actions. A dog cannot do anything different from barking – nor can a cat do anything different from meowing. But humans can decide their actions. A human being can decide to stay with animal-like-activities of eating-drinking-mating-sleeping or decide to control his fate and realize the ultimate reality of Brahman. This feature of controlling one’s fate is what differentiates human births from other births. Though human beings by default are meant to be ignorant and immersed in the ocean of samsaara, they can by their free will control the fate and overcome the ocean of samsaara to realize their very nature of Brahman.

If a seeker has got human birth, then he needs to have gratitude to the Lord and his past for the same. The scriptures speak about crores of species and that human birth is achieved after passing through all those species. Thus if we have achieved this human birth, it is not as simple as getting a job or getting a partner in marriage – it is the toughest of things. Since human birth is rarest, therefore a seeker has to give importance to it and use it for what it is meant. Human birth is not meant to merely behave and live like animals – instead it is meant to be utilized for realization and to come out of the delusion of samsaara. For this, a seeker should not succumb to desires of sensual pleasures. He should be emotionally strong so that intellect is guided in the right direction towards the goal of realization. This is what Sankara calls as pumstvam or manhood. Manhood is not physical but it is mental and intellectual. Any being who is able to control his emotions and use it for progressing in the spiritual path is a man. Any being who is not able to withstand or control his emotions thereby succumbing to emotional feelings like passion, attachment, desires etc. is a woman.

This definition of man and woman is very important to understand the rest of Sankara’s sloka. The main reason for this definition is that a person will be able to progress in the spiritual path only if his intellect is sharp – the intellect will be sharp only if the mind doesn’t get distracted into passions and emotions. We generally see that women are more emotional than men (it is only general and please don’t mail me back arguing that “I am a woman but still not emotional”J). Hence manhood or being intellectually focused is important for a seeker.

Chinmaya thus beautifully says in his English translation of Vivekachoodamani that “there are women among bearded ones”!!!

Having manhood qualities but still not striving for spiritual goal is also bad. Thus we have great leaders like Indira Gandhi, Jaya lalitha and others who have manhood qualities but still don’t utilize it for realization. Thus viprathaa or the quality of striving for realization is very important once manhood qualities have been fully cultivated and developed in a seeker. Once striving for realization is there, the seeker will start following the spiritual path put forth by the scriptures – this is what Sankara says as vaidika dharma maarga parathaa. This doesn’t mean following the ritualistic actions of the Vedas like sandhya, agnihotra etc. as that will never lead to realization. This only means following the path put forth by the knowledge portion of the Vedas (Vedanta) which mainly is three fold of sravana (listening), manana (reflection) and nidhidhyaasaa (contemplation).

When a person follows the path put forth by the Vedas, he becomes learned in the Vedas (intellectual or paroksha jnaana). Such a person is called a vidvaan (vidvatvam or the quality of being learned in the scriptures is achieved by such a person). Once a person is learned in the scriptures, he is able to differentiate between the Atman (Self) and Anatman (not-Self) – this is what Sankara calls atma anaatma vivechanam. When a person is able to differentiate the atman and anatman, he identifies himself with the atman which is a mere saakshi to all activities. Thus svanubhavam or experience of the truth that I am Brahman ensues – this is aparoksha anubhava or intuitive Self-experience.

Aparoksha anubhava leads to a seeker being always established in the ultimate reality of Brahman or brahmaatmana samshithih. Being ever established in Brahman of the nature of Sat chit ananda is moksha or liberation.

All these steps might be very easy to list out or learn or preach but practicing and being in that state is very tough indeed. Thus births and births are required to achieve all these. The starting itself needs a human birth which itself is attained after crores of janmas. After getting a human birth, it might still take a seeker another lakhs of janmas to attain the final state of moksha.

It might take many janmas or one janma depending on the seeker. A seeker should never keep things for later – he should have such strong desire to get liberated in this birth itself so that he progresses in the spiritual path without any delay thereby realizing Brahman in this very birth itself.

Of course, birth and death are only for the body/jeeva and not for the Self. But to realize that birth and death is for the body and not for “me” is moksha or liberation. Mere intellectual knowledge of this itself will take years – and once intellect is convinced of it, nidhidhyaasana of many more years alone will make a seeker fully established in experience of Brahman.

Only once a person realizes Brahman through aparoksha anubhava, will he require no more actions to be performed. Thus the state of krithakrithyathaa will happen only after realization. Through this sloka of Sankara, the advaitin supports his explanation of the Gita sloka that krithakrithyathaa which is realization of the Self alone is the goal of human life (which is the main essence of Sankara’s Vivekachoodamani sloka quoted here).

We will continue with the advaitin’s further quotations in the next mail.

Prostrations to all.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God


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