Ignorance and Knowledge

In our life we take decisions both in our personal and professional life. We undertake many work some time on the spurt of the moment, and sometimes after deep deliberations. Yet we are not certain of success of our decisions and actions all the times. We are hit by random events, unexpected happenings that are against our expectation. This is the case even we think that we are taking an informed, knowledgeable decisions. The reason is difference between knowledge and ignorance. Information, partial information, misinformation, lack of information, misconception, dynamics of information all play its part. The oft heard parlance in management corridor, when postmortem of negative events are being dissected is, well, we took decision with the available information at that time and with the understanding of the same.

Is it possible for one to be correct always? Can we know all information upfront by research? Can ignorance be warded off by knowledge? If so what needs to be done and how.   This is playing out at the background of our mind for no one is spared of issue that there have been things that could have been avoided had the information that is known currently had been known then. That is what we call us hindsight bias.

There is this beautiful passage from the book “The philosophy of Sanskrit Grammar” by Prabhat Chandra Chakravarthi attributed to “Barthruhari” that explains the limitation of our understanding and resultant ignorance.

“What should we then do under these anomalous circumstances? Human knowledge is limited by nature. It is not possible for a man to know anything in its entirety. To realise the ultimate essence of a thing lies practically beyond the range of human intelligence and what is almost incontestable is that our knowledge and experience, as Bhartruhari rightly observes are in most cases liable to be inaccurate and imperfect.

Human knowledge is must be remembered, is bound to be of difference types, the same object being variously perceived by difference men. Truth does not reveal itself to all persons. A man’s intelligence, however sharp and far-reaching, does not help him in getting into the real nature of things. If we closely examine our experience, drawn from personal observations, we do not fail to see how often we are deceived by it. knowledge as its comes from experience is subject to error.

As our experience are likely to be false and defective in most of the cases we should not treat them as the basis of our experience, without examining their validity by means of reasoning. Thus what is perceived directly by sense organs required to be fully determined by reasoning. Observations unaided by reasoning are not to be relied on as evidence at all. “

Bharadwaja was a venerable sage in Hindu lineage. Many of the ancient treatise, vedic scriptures are attributed to him. The story is that his thirst for knowledge was insatiable that he could not complete his learning even after repeated birth and he asked for extension of life by hundred years to Lord Siva, ( some say Lord Indra) multiple times so that he can continue his pursuance of knowledge unhindered. Twice it happened. Third time the reply he gets is interesting. The God tells him that, do you see the Mountain Himalaya far off. That is the vastness of knowledge available in Vedas. For our understanding let us say knowledge needed to lead a righteous life. And what you gain in life time is equivalent to the dirt you can hold in your hand.

So when and how did ignorance get attached to us. Do we become knowledgeable all of a sudden the answer is no. Ignorance is a state of illusion.  The knowledge that is inside us has been veiled for reasons unknown to us. Like a brightness in a vessel that shines after cleaning, ignorance has to be removed and knowledge has to be obtained by cleaning out senses, mind and intellect of the dirt and darkness hiding the real beauty, so that knowledge can come out and shine.

So, let us not feel bad for our past mistakes and ignorance that has been the cause for it. We did our best.  And no guarantee that we will not make mistakes in the future.  Yet, let us go ahead and understand our true nature and try to eradicate our misconceptions, lack of knowledge slowly, be it in our daily life or aspirational life by association with wise people, role models, learning from scripture, by our experience, Intellect and intuition. One day we may reach there.

***

The Nature as Teacher – 24 Gurus around us

Life comes in various shapes, sizes and flavor. We share this world with natural elements of earth, space, fire, air, water, animals, plants, minerals and people. Of course there are supposed to be unknown elements and let us leave it out. We interact with them. A man who learns from his own experience leads a miserable life. the one who learns from others also leads a average life. The one who learns from anything and everything around us leads an exemplary life.

There is a converstation between “Dattatreya”, a Sage, and “Yadu”, a King in “Bhagavatham” where Dattatreya, when asked,  explains the reason for his happiness to the king, that it is because he has learned about the world from his Surrounding, Nature, and 24 Gurus follows it, he is happy, though from worldy point of view he might be considered a impoverished.

Now what are the 24 teachers around us. They are:

The Earth The Air The Sky Water Fire Moon
Sun Pigeon Python Sea Moth Honeybee
Elephant Honey Thief Deer Fish Prostitute Pingala Kurara Bird
The Child Young Girl Arrow Maker Serpent Spider Wasp

The Twenty-Four Gurus:

1.Earth: We use and abuse earth. We dig it out, load it, scorch it, dirty it and what not. Yet it provides us the plant, minerals, water bodies for our survival. It brings us stability. It is patient. Despite doing all this it supports us. Thus people may insult us, cheat us, ignore us do whatever may be keeping patience and not taking on us and not worrying about it helps us keep our mind stable and worry free. Learn the art of patience, performing ones duty, forbearance and helpful tendencies from Earth.

2. The Air: The air has no smell but carries the scent from the surroundings be it good and bad. But it is not tainted by it. The aromatic smell of flowers, spices, perfume or bad smell from dump yard, pollution does not affect the inherent quality of air. Same way the air goes into pipe in one but the sound that comes from it is varied. The cow is of different color but the milk is of white. Likewise the Atma-soul in all of us is Real, Happy and Eternal and is not affected by the happening to the person.

3. The sky: The sky is vast. Atma is so. Though the sky extends everywhere and everything rests within it, it does not mix with anything. The sky is never implicated or affected by the blowing action of the wind, water, rain, thunder or clouds. In the same way the living entity, the atma, is never affected though it may enter a body of material elements, the life.

4. Water: Water is essential for living. It is needed for our livelihood – drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, extraction, factory production etc. It is a great coolant and provides taste for food. It is a wonderful cleanser. The great seers of the world are like water. The yogi like that cleanses all the people who come in contract with him. Essentially that in being touch with great people everyone achieves greatness. Connecting with good people, help one in providing direction in leading the life.

5. Agni: The fire has beauty. It Illuminates.It is not easily reachable. Anything you put in it digests. It burns everything it comes into contact. It is impartial to shape, size and type of product. The Yogis and great people have charisma akin to Fire. He is not impacted by his company or the food he eats. He is able to maintain his purity under all conditions. Like fire he comes into contact with people for some time but he goes back to his work. He helps those who approach him also to achieve greatness. Similarly Atma is not affected by the body it takes, works based on it and comes and goes. From fire  learn to glow with the splendor of Self-knowledge and austerity.

6. Moon: The moon waxes and wanes but because of that the moon is not any less. So also the person who is born gets modified throughout his life – Being, born, change, growth, decline and death. And because the body is changed it is incorrect to assume the soul also gets transformed. Soul remains inviolate. As the man changes his cloths the Atma drops the body when it is not able to support him and gets into new one.

7. Sun: Sun is the cause for water cycle and clouds but it never takes credit for the same. The sun in the pond seems like moving but it does not. Sun Illuminates. Same way the soul and a Yogi does not take credit for the acts of body. The Atma seems to be affected by the acts of body but it is not.

8. Pigeon: Once in a family of pigeons, the father sees its wife and children are caught in hunter’s net and goes to free it, fails and it also gets caught in the same web. This is because of the excessive attachment, for the father pigeon thinks that without them life is not worth living. Had it thought for moment that it is difficult to free them it would not have attempted this and thus saving self. So also, we, the human beings get muddled into life because of our excess attachment. Attachment is bondage. The right way, learning from pigeon would be to love and yet be not excessively attached. Loving yet being discriminatory and detached our life would be peaceful.

  • to be continued

24 Gurus from Bhagavatam

 

Logic in Sanskrit – Tarka Sastra

In the time before knowledge got written down, codified, popularized,  the work of Philosophers, Scientist, Scholars, Writers were different. The epistemological study was to be done in painstaking manner, starting from observation, understanding, query, analysis, dialogue, discussion, discourse, deliberation, debate, dialectic, decision and finally conclusion to avoid confusion, And for successful debate, specially between conflicting ideas, philosophy and thought,  dialogue and debate was an option to reach conclusion. To this the scholars of ancient India, the Sanskrit scholars have researched and came to an inference that the primary need is common understanding of the words, their association and method of understanding. This is the starting point of logic. The scholars had written what is called “Nigandu” (Thesaurus), “Tarka Sastra”, and “Nyaya Sastra” as first step towards logical understanding.

Tarka is the process of questioning and cross-questioning that leads to a particular conclusion. It is a form of supposition that can be used as an aid to the attainment of valid knowledge. Tarka Sastra is a science of dialectics, logic and reasoning, and art of debate that analyzes the nature and source of knowledge and its validity

Sanskrit is stated to be the ideal language for computer processing because of its structure. It is one of the ancient language, constructed by human being (all languages are created by human being). The fact that it was well deliberated, with concise grammar for expanding the language in case of future requirement is one of the reason for its popularity till date. Understanding philosophy, especially philosophy and Sanskritic writings makes it difficult because of the subjects dealt there in and the concise manner in which it is written. Of course it was need of the time that it has to be written in short forms for the oral tradition was in prevalence for imparting knowledge and in many cases may predate writing and printing. Logic thus becomes imperative to understand these texts and that was also written down somewhere along the way. By writing down the way in which it is constructed decoding the knowledge becomes easier to that extent.

Tarka Sangraha” by Annam Bhatta is one such book on Logic. The book in its original, or should I say thesis, in Sanskrit is just of fifteen pages. But is a great aid in understanding or processing of concepts so that clear understanding of the same can be obtained. The similarity between current day computer language constructs of DDL (Data Definition Language), SQL (Structure Query Language), RDBMS (Relational Data Base Schema) is evident. The book had clear classification, data description, structure, linking between data sets, context and way to manipulate and manage the data. Such is format of this book.

To give an overview, there are primarily seven categories to describe in which anything and everything in the world can be fit in. From there it starts like this.

Data Sets

  • Categorie is of seven types which is – substance, quality, action, genus, difference, co-inherence and non existence.
  • Substance in turn is classified into nine type which are earth, water, fire/light, air, ether, time, place, soul and mind.
  • Quality has 24 attributes
  • Actions are of five types
  • Genus are 2
  • Difference are of five types
  • Coinherence is one and
  • Non existence has seven data points.

To give an example let us take the case of earth which is the first data point mention in the category substance.

Data Definition : Description of a substance: Earth has an inherent odour. In can be in its atomic structure or can be used with other substance to produce various things. In body part it is present in the nose for it is the organ on smell, in its mass form it is prevalent everywhere. Its primary color is brown but can take other colors. It has a taste, it is tangible. It is measured in dimension and so on. This is essentially achieved by linking the various data sets.

Knowledge Creation: Having identified the various categories and related data sets it also specifies how knowledge of any subject can be achieved. Knowledge is gained by understanding. Primarily there are two ways. One is remembrance for which prior knowledge and memory is needed. The other is Notion for unknown aspects. Notion is of four types. Notion could be right or wrong. And the right notion is obtained in the following means – Perception, Inference, conclusion by similarity, and assertion by authority. And further if you take the example of Inference, Inference could be obtained for two reasons. For self-understanding or for the purpose of instruction to others. And the way of doing it by proposition, reason, example, application and conclusion. Thus the various ways of knowledge acquisition in systematic manner if expounded.

Thus they have a system of both inductive and deductive reasoning based on data. The reasoning is methodical, scientific, investigative and rationalistic. Considering the timeline of these literature and how ancient it is and yet modern logically it becomes our duty to understand what our ancestors thought in various subjects and restore it to its natural glory. And this is sure to facilitate us to understand the frontiers of knowledge, which are extensive in a conscious, constructive and consensual way.

***

Ref: Tarka Sangraha Annam Bhatta

 

Remembering T.S.Eliot III

II of the FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Eliot – East Coker

Everything is Cyclical

In my beginning is my end.

In succession

Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,

Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place

………

Houses live and die: there is a time for building

And a time for living and for generation

And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane

And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots

And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls

………..

 

Limited value of Knowledge

Knowledge, At best, only a limited value

In the knowledge derived from experience.

The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,

For the pattern is new in every moment

And every moment is a new and shocking

Valuation of all we have been.

We are only undeceived

Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.

……….

Do not let me hear

Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,

Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,

Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire

Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

………

 

In order to arrive there,

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,

You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know

You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess

You must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not

You must go through the way in which you are not.

And what you do not know is the only thing you know

And what you own is what you do not own

And where you are is where you are not.

………..

You have right only to work – This is the essence of what Krishna says in Gita

For us, there is only the trying.

The rest is not our business.

Home is where one starts from.

As we grow older

The world becomes stranger,

the pattern more complicated

Of dead and living.

Not the intense moment

Isolated, with no before and after,

But a lifetime burning in every moment

And not the lifetime of one man only

But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

There is a time for the evening under starlight,

A time for the evening under lamplight

(The evening with the photograph album).

Love is most nearly itself

When here and now cease to matter.

Old men ought to be explorers

Here or there does not matter

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,

The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters

Of the petrel and the porpoise.

In my end is my beginning.

  • Abridged FOUR QUARTETS, T.S. Eliot

Few Gems from – Question-Answer Gems of Sri Sankaracharya

“Prasnottara Ratna Malika”  – Garland of Gems of question and answers –  is a 67 verse poem by Sri Sankaracharya in Sanskrit. It is written in question and answer form, where both question and answers are short, pithy and yet deep in conveying the message. Some of the questions raised and answered are in general on life, philosophy and godliness.  Given below are the selected gems that pertain to our everyday life and living.

Few Gems from Garland of Gems:

What is most desirable for human beings? Life dedicated to one’s and others’ welfare.

Who are thieves – The sense objects

Who is the enemy of one – Idleness

What is transient – Youth, wealth and life

What is priceless – That which is given at the right time

What is hell? – Being in another’s control

What is death? – Unintelligence. A state of utter ignorance

What bestows happiness – Being amongst good people

Where is one to be indifferent? –  Towards bad people, another’s wife, another’s property

What should one strive for – To have good education, good medical treatments and habit of giving gifts

What is to be cultivated with affection – Compassion towards the helpless, friendship with the good

Who are the kind of people that one cannot correct? –  The unintelligent, doubting, the cheerless and the ungrateful

Who can control – The one who speaks truth, caring and humble

Who is blind? – One who enjoys wrong doing

Who is dumb? –  One who does not know how to speak – right words at the right time

Who is deaf? – One who does not listen to good advise

By whom is this world conquered? – By the person who has truthfulness and endurance.

What is hard to obtain – Charity along with sweet words, knowledge with humility, courage with patience, wealth with renunciation. These four auspicious things are hard to attain.

What is to be earned by people?  –  Knowledge, wealth, strength, fame, merit.

Which is the destroyer if all good qualities? – Greed.

Who is the enemy? – Lust.

What is to be well protected? – Good name, devoted wife and discernment.

What is the weapon for all? – Reason

Who are elderly – Those who know truth and one’s duty

What is destroyer of all good qualities? – Greed

What is the cause of decadence in family – The kind of behavior that one does to create heart burn in good people

Which place is good to stay – The neighborhood of virtuous people

Which place should one avoid – A place full of wicked men and ruled by greedy rulers

Whose words never fail – Those who observe truthfulness, silence and control of the mind.

What sustains the body – It is the operative quantum of karma that one has to fulfill in this life.

Who reaps the success in work? – One who works well in his chosen field and does concentrated work

Whom does disaster not strike? – one who follows the advice of elders and has control over his senses

Whom does goddess of wealth loves – one who is industrious without lethargy and just in conduct

Who will be happy in this world? – The rich person

What indeed is richness? – That by which there is fulfillment of wants

For whom there is no sorrow – One who is devoid of anger. Also a person who has devoted spouse and wealth

What is happiness? – The state of contentment

  • Excerpts from “Prasnottara Ratna Malika” – Garland of gems of question and answers

 

Knowledge acquisition as in Upanishads

“Knowledge is Infinite. What we know is very little.”

 

Knowledge as pure consciousness is infinite. What we know collectively and individually is limited and unknown is humongous. And knowledge has various names, forms, levels and types in all variety of subjects. World over trillions is being spent in the name of education. Corporations are spending in billion for training and knowledge management. Multiplicity of mediums, tools, technology and techniques are in vogue.  How effective are we in it? Are we learning right and learning the right subjects? Is there an order and process to acquire knowledge?

India has a rich tradition by way of Vedas and Upanishads.  Vedas and Upanishads are the fountain of knowledge both secular and spiritual. For they are prior to the times when philosophy and science and arts with is various sub divisions became a separate subject of study on their own.  The “Chandogya Upanishads” seventh chapter which goes by the title “Bhumaiva Sukham” meaning “completeness is happiness”, has a beautiful exposition on learning and knowledge acquisition.

It starts as dialogue between Sage Narada and Sage Sanatkumara where in Narada requests Sanatkumara to teach him for which Sanatkumara asks him to tell what he knows and beyond that he will teach.  Narada replies saying that he is well versed in phenomenal knowledge or secular knowledge of maths, science, astronomy, arts and art forms, architecture, politics, economics and so on. He understands that while these knowledge helps him to make a livelihood, acquire name and fame, wealth, and power it is not capable of giving him lasting happiness and peace of mind. What is the knowledge that by which one can go beyond, sorrow, ignorance and delusions?  Sage Sanatkumara replies that what he has learnt is only the theoretical knowledge in the forms of words, objects and thoughts pertaining to the physical world. However, one has to have self-knowledge to gross over the worldly problems. But then prior to acquiring self-knowledge there are different stages of knowledge that one has to acquire before self knowledge could be acquired. Thus begins his instruction for acquiring secular knowledge.

Meditation or worship as a technique of acquiring knowledge

Meditation or worship is an intellectual and internalized concept, as in this context is, different from the earlier notion of, as a form of physical worship, actual sacrifice and offerings to god. It is a state of heightened concentration where whatever is meditated upon is completely identified, absorbed with self and unified with as one identifies self-consciousness with one’s body.

To consciously superimpose or invoke a superior, or extraordinary thought or ideal in an ordinary object and venerating it as higher is called worship. Worshipping lord Shiva in the form of an idol, Jesus in the form of cross, or god in the form of fire, space, direction, nation in the form of flag are some of the examples. Such conscious impositions of higher in the lower and meditating on its attributes makes it easier for the mind to concentrate, focus, devoid of distractions and conflicts such that mind is able to imbibe the qualities of the idols in us.  As it depends on the person who is invoking it, the success of meditation is purely personal depending upon the strength of worship, time frame, period and sincerity. Depending upon what one is idealizing and practicing, the meditation can give him the worldly accomplishments of success, prosperity, fame, comforts and also other capabilities.

Knowledge starts as Names and forms

Every form or object has a name.  The names are much wider in scope than the object or its form. For example, when we see a particular ‘rose’, all the attributes of rose and the experiences in general of rose comes to our mind. And the name and form are generally not separable.  Thus when a name is mentioned the form associated with it manifests. Thus when the words and meanings are acquired and one who meditates on it, all the worldly power thereof can be obtained. However, mind being what it is it seeks to learn something beyond name and forms once it is known. If we recollect, when a child first learns to talk, he gets immense pleasure in identifying the objects around him and calling them by name. or when one learns any subject or language one starts with learning the words and terms specific to the field of study and starts identifying and associating it with objects around him.

Power of Speech

The first knowledge is that of names and forms, and is available as words. However, since speech proceeds words, and being the cause of words, it is superior to words.  All the knowledge originated in the form of sound/speech.  Speech is a powerful form to communicate thoughts. By the power of speech business is won or lost, relationships thrive or wither away, knowledge is acquired and communicated. There are infinite possibilities.

By meditating on that speech one gains mastery over it. The power of speech is improved by truthfulness in it, silence, speaking only when needed, avoiding unnecessary speech, sweetness and gentleness of the words uttered and speaking for the benefit of all.

Mind Power

Mind is superior to speech.  Speech is a process. There are four stages before speech is manifested. It first starts as un-manifest potential, beyond words and thought outside of us.  In the second stage idea takes into to shape in the mind.  In the third stage express is formed in the mind just before speaking.  And in the final stage speech is out of us by the coordination of various organs of the body through vocal cord and mouth. As mind is the cause of speech and proceeds speech, and speech is the effect of mind, mind is superior to speech.

Mind is the cause behind thinking and desire. Mind is the notion behind the self. All the world is created and experience in the mind. Mind is the cause of all names, speech and action. So mediate on the mind. By meditating on mind, one achieves all powers possible by mind.

Mental powers thus gained can be enhanced by living a righteous life, practicing self-contentment and other spiritual powers.

Supremacy of Will (Sankalpa) power

Sankalpa is defined as – power of conception, ideation, intent, desire, volition, resolution, and one pointed determination to achieve something. A vedic sankalpa generally comprises of time, location, constituents, lineage, purpose, wish, desire, target, action to be performed and nature of action. (So who says we thought of the concept of project plan, manifesto and so forth!!!!) it is about setting a positive intention to achieve something.

Man’s discriminating ability, the desire and will to do something is the basis for functioning of the mind. And hence superior to mind power. The will as sacred formulae, the mantra, when intoned with earnestness, appropriateness and correctness will result in action. The entire cycle of creation happens by will. By God’s will are the five elements created and sustained. The heat of the sun causes rain, which produces crops and food and from that sustenance, prana or the vital air, is obtained and by breath action is carried out and from that world is created. The willing creates the whole world and hence worship will.

One who meditates on will gains all the power related there off and is capable of gaining and experiencing wealth, power, fame and all that one intends.  He also acquired the bodily wealth of health body, robust mind, good sense organs, capacity to enjoy without outside obstacles. These though are of temporary nature by virtue of action being limited in its nature and that anything limited can created only things with limitedness.

Cultivation of Intelligence

Intelligence is superior to will, for only when one understands, he will, then he intends in mind which results in speech and name and form. Intelligence is that presence of mind, discriminating capacity, contextual understanding and decision making skill. Hence its greatness. An intelligent man is well respected in the society.

Capacity for Contemplation

Contemplation is greater than intelligence. The whole universe as in earth, heaven, water, mountains, divine beings, man, women, animate and inanimate contemplate and share the results there off. He who contemplates obtains multitude of knowledge. He then becomes free to act. The result of contentment is tranquility, stillness, steadfastness and contentment. Once mind is healthy, it further leads to health body, keen mind both of which enables one to perform well and achieve in the external world. Internally it leads one to a state of ultimate absorption, thoughtlessness resulting in peace and mastery over one’s subject of study.

Capability to Right Understanding

Understanding is superior than contemplation for contemplation is only effective when one understands the subject better for without understanding it is likely to lead to disastrous results. Only by understanding the world all that is in the world the sciences, the scriptures, and the knowable, various aspects of nature, plants, of animals etc, can be studies and research undertaken such that the laws governing them could be known.

The understanding of any knowledge, scriptures etc is gained by listening to the teachers, by self-study and reflection, by discussions with colleagues, and through the passage of time, experience and practice. One who meditates and understands all the scriptures and secular knowledge attains all the powers possible by understanding.

Thus are the various forms of intelligence one being superior to the other. By succeeding in gaining these knowledge one elevates himself to acquire the material wealth and becomes ready for the next stage of gaining self knowledge.

Based on “Bhumaiva Sukham”

Ref: “Bhumaiva Sukham” – Notes on Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 7, by Swamini Vimalananda, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust Publications, 2003

“Sanatsujatiyam” – The story of US

“Sanatsujatiyam” is a chapter from udyoga parva in Bhagavatam, a well known Indian epic, of the same time period as that of Bhagavat Gita. While Gita is about the dialogue between  Lord Krishna and Arjuna in the battle field, Sanatsujatiyam is the teaching of Sage Sanatsujata  to Dhrutarashtra, the blind King and the father of Kauravas who are one of the main protagonist of Mahabharata war.

The Questions

Sanatsujatiyam answers some fundamental  philosophical questions that has been in our mind from time immemorial and raised by Dhrutarashtra in this case.

What do we do to go beyond all sorrow and will we be able to look with equanimity upon gain and loss, desire and hate, old age and death, joy and sorrow, hunger and thirst, fear and fearlessness, merit and sin, decline and rise the essential dhwandhas or the duality that are the conflicts of life.

Which are the cause of transmigration and how to attain liberation from these.

Is there death are there is no death.

Who are we. What is “Brahman”? How do we know Brahman which is our essential nature. What do we do to regain our essential self.

The man thinks himself to be body, mind and senses.we are active, doing things constantly trying to avoid pain and enjoy pleasures and result is facing miseries and failure to attain freedom which is the goal of life. We are born and we die again and again continuing this life cycle only each time under different body, name and circumstances. But then question arises. Is there death. Or what is death. Who is the real person behind these names and forms.

what is the knowledge that would make man immortal free from the duality of the world. Can enlightenment be reached and death be conquered by performance of Vedic rituals. Could it be done through combination of ritual and knowledge. Seers are of the view that there is death and no death. How can these contradictory views can be realised.

Who are we and when do we die are some of the questions asked of  Sage Sanatsujata and he replies to them as follows.

Who are we

The scriptures say ones real nature is liberation. We are divine beings. We are on vacation in this world.  The death happens when we forget that and fall from that state to this life. This forgetting of the natural state is the cause of all our problems in this life and the start of Karmic activities of production, attainment, modification and purification.

Ignorance is the cause of bondage and knowledge is the cause of liberation and we are all deluded because of this sheath of ignorance

The Atma or the soul residing in a person is beyond body and mind and beyond and continues in three states of waking, dream and deep sleep of a person. Since one is Atma there is no birth and death.

Body identification and doership is the cause for miseries of life. The man who is created from water, five elements, has gross body that embodies soul in his heart which is purely consciousness, and wrongly identifies himself with gross body. This body identification creates  self-not self concept and that leads to all sorrows, joy, misery and worry again based on his karma. Body identification leads to samsara in other words this circle of life of desire fulfillment, old age, decay and death. The five sense organs, the five organs of action, mind and intellect twelve in all are the cause of externalities and by withdrawing them internally the cause of transmigration is avoided and bliss is attained.

When any activity has to be carried out it has to be done with total detachment, without the feeling of ” I ” am doing it and expectation of result. Thus when mind is pure and free from desire and emotions of anger, greed, jealousy etc self knowledge and realisation happens. If one thinks the body is real and there are these unfulfilled desires at the time of death then the soul carries them along with it and comes back again and again. Hence no liberation from this cycle of life or samsara. When sense objects and desire arising from sense organs are understood to be transient and ephemeral leading to more karma and sorrow and overcome liberation is achieved. Raising above the body level and keeping the mind content and calm which happens when there is no thinking or no mind, or when activities of the mind ceases then path to liberation opens.

The  Brahman

The Brahman is that which is beyond cause and effect, all pervasive, beyond the reach of speech and mind that which is present in every being and object in the universe.it is experienced as pure consciousness. The Brahman has no form. It is infinite and not confined into any space and not made up of five elements. It can not be negated and is beyond ignorance. It is subtler than the subtlest and bigger than anything imaginable. It is that from which all in the universe emerges and  and at the end time of universe everything merges with it.  The entire universe shines because of the light of the Brahman. All the universe is established in it.

The person who is born in this world, the self, is the manifestation of Brahman and the self is a non-dual, infinite consciousness and bliss. The knower of self knows it as Brahman and who knows it becomes immortal.

Know Brahman

It is the creator, the supreme being who creates the entire universe out of five elements – fire, air, Earth, water, and ether- in everything and everyone and transmigrates. Who makes him do that and for what purpose and what happens when that action ceases is the play of creation. It is Brahman the being, pure consciousness and bliss.

The Brahman can be attained by truth, rectitude, humility, control of the senses, purity of mind and knowledge and keeping out pride and delusion.

Avoid these

As to the question if one can escape the consequences of sinful acts if he has learnt the scriptures the answer is no and that the fruits of good and bad activities have to be experienced separately and that one does not negates the other. The Brahman can be obtained by tapas which is rigour, penance and austerity. As it is affected the qualities of desire, anger, lust, greed, ignorance, pleasure from sense objects, cruelty, casting aspersions delusion, complaining, worry, covetousness malice, envy and hatred aspirant should avoid these qualities. Also one should avoid sense gratification, prosperity at the cost of others (note the qualifier here), lamenting giving away of gift after it is done, willing to face humiliation for gain, lack of discrimination, boasting and  ill treating one’s spouse.

Pride and the qualities that amplify it are also to be avoided by one.

Cultivate these qualities

One who knows Brahman is a brahmana. (Note – it is by qualities and not be birth). And the twelve great qualities of brahmana are speaking truth, speaking what is good for others, controlling ones mind, studying scriptures, caring for well being of others, proprietary, not talking about faults of others in public, self control under all circumstrances and control of senses. Thus those who have achieved these qualities would be in a position to attain great knowledge and success and position in this world.

Control of senses is effective when along with above qualities one is not quarrelsome, respects all, not lamenting about past or worrying about future, equanimous in all circumstances, Knowledgeable, not causing injury to others, detached and spiritualistic.

Practising the above leads one to happiness.

Know thy self

An object is identified by words only if it has some quality as name, form, action, and relationship with some other objects. As the self does not have any of these qualities it cannot be described but only perceived as pointed by Vedas. Self can be realised by giving up sense objects, which is done by withdrawing senses, being quite, away from all actions and by contemplation and meditation. Brahman is the source of all names and forms and self is Brahman. So knower of the self knows the source of everything in the universe. Attaining Brahman, the ultimate reality, pure consciousness, bliss (sat, chit, ananda) that is happiness, and that is the goal of life. And those who attain the knowledge of self are liberated.

Thus one who knows himself to be Brahman had no death. It is unborn and is the self of all moving and unmoving. By meditating on this he is fulfilled. Brahman is immortal and all beings are born from it and merge into it. Brahman is the self, not self and all that exist and exist not.

-Karparation

Ref:

-“Sanatsujatiyam” translated by S N Sastri

  • Discourse by Shri Swami Anubhavananda Saraswati on Sanatsujatiyam – available on YouTube