The Forum dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi => The teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi => Topic started by: Subramanian.R on August 05, 2013, 03:06:05 PM

Title: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 05, 2013, 03:06:05 PM
An inquiry in the Light of the Dakshinamurti Stotram:

Part I:

(Swami Tanmayananda Sarasvati)


The goal of all spiritual sadhana is Advaita Siddhi (the accomplishment of non dual vision), which is also called Self
Realization (or God-realization, in bhakti terminlogy).  In Sanskrit, it is called Atma Satshakatkaram or Brahma
Sakshatkaram (realization of the universal spirit, shining as the indwelling Self of every being).  Upon inquiring into
the nature of this liberating Knowledge, the venerable ancient Rishis asserted that it is not a matter of reaching any
destination or gaining something anew (in terms of a variety of religious or mystical experiences) nor is it a transformation
of the mind-stuff and much less is it a product of any action, however, exalted.  Lastly it does not consist of mere purification
of soul. (Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Gambirananda, Advaita Ashrama, 2006; Sutra 4. 'tat tu samanvayat'.  See also Isavasya

In the inner journey of the soul, there are a variety of landmarks which could be loosely described using the above terms.
They may have some limited validity on the relative plane, which strictly pertains to the preparatory stages of sadhana.  When
Paul Brunton queried Sri Bhagavan regarding the time required for enlightenment, He replied that it takes a long time to set
fire to coal, gunpowder catches fire instantly, (Self Realization, B.V. Narasimha Swami, 2002), and it is all a matter of maturity
of mind.  The final explosion that destroys samsara (the cycle of transmigration) with all its sufferings happens only with the dawn
of Self knowedge (Jnanadeva tu kaivalyam).

In Vedantic parlance, the nature of such enlightenment is more accurately described as PRATYABHIJNA or recognition of the
inner Self.  "It is pure, plain and as simple as recognizing a gooseberry fruit in one's palm and hence easy even for simpletons"
exclaims Bhagavan Ramana in His Atma Vidya Kirtanam.


Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 06, 2013, 10:18:31 AM


In the empirical plane of reality, the Jiva (individual self) is said to be covered by Avidya (ignorance) and consequently
has forgotten its real nature as being identical with the limitless universal Self (Brahman).  Instead, it has identified
itself with a limited body-mind complex, thereby falling into samsara and experiencing all its attendant sorrows endlessly.

After going through an elaborate process of spiritual sadhana, capped with self inquiry, one finally gains the 'saving
knowledge' -- which is direct and immediate (aparoksha jnanam) -- of one's true nature, as the immortal, limitless Brahma-
svarupam.  This discovery is called Pratyabhijnanam or recognition of one's original nature, the ever present spirit as the
ultimate truth, and this alone sets one free from the thraldom of matter and consequently samsara for ever.


Arunachala Siva.         
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 07, 2013, 02:16:39 PM

Etymological Meaning of Pratyabhijnanam:

The etymology of the word is traced as follows: 'prati + 'abhi' + 'jnana'.  'prati' and 'abhi' are prefixes to the root word
'jna', which means 'to know'.  Of the several meanings available for the prefix 'prati', two are relevant in the present
context.  One of them is 'in comparison with' and 'as a match for'.  'abhi' means 'facing', 'all around', 'both sides' or
'in front of'. Suppose you see a person called Ganesh whom you had seen years ago with characteristics corresponding
to his youthful age, status etc., which are vastly different 'compared' to his present features; then you discard the
incidental differences and quickly 'match their basic commonalities' (often in a subliminal way) and conclude that 'he is the
same person whom you had encountered in the past.' This is the standard process of recognition of any person or object.
(This feeling of deja vu is also such a recognition, as in the case of events or encounters.).

Such a sudden spark of recognition culminates in the flowering of 'knowledge or illumination' (signified by the root word
'jna').  The brief defintion of the technical term pratyabhijna is thus in the form of ascertaining the identity of a person, as,
'he whom I saw in the past, is the same person in front of me now.' Sri Suresvaracharya, in his commentary Manasollasa on
the Dakshinamurti Stotram, describes thus: pratyabhijnanam consists in sudden flash of memory triggering recognition of a
thing or a person -- in the form 'that is the same as this'. (soyamiti anusandhanam),  (Manasollasa says, 'bhaatsya kaschyati
purvam bhaasamaanasya saampratam, soyamiti anusandhanam pratyabhijnanam uchyate'.)  -- which having presented itself
before one's awareness in a past exprience (referred to as 'that'), once again becomes an object of consciousness at the present
moment of experience (referred to by 'this').


Arunachala Siva.               
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 08, 2013, 11:33:59 AM


The second meaning for the prefix 'prati' valid in this context, is 'to return' or 'to traverse' in the reverse or opposite direction',
because with reference to the object cognized in the present moment, the mind quickly 'travels back' in time to compare it with
a past experience of the same object, by recollection.  Thus the attention of the mind (antahkaranam) is 'turned within' or 'reversed'
from the outside perception.   For, while 'cognition' takes place outside of oneself with the eyes operating outward, to reach out
to the object, 'recollection' can take place only by the mind's attention 'turning inward in the opposite direction'.  Thus smriti
(recollection) combines with pratyaksha (cognition) to make the knowledge of the object complete with re-cognition viz.,

It is important to understand these concepts because language conditions our thinking, which in turn conditions our attitude
and approach to sadhana.  The use of precise, technical words is a powerful aid in removing the psychological cobwebs in the
mind which hinder our sadhana in the form of vagueness or incorrect understanding.  The process of gaining clarity is thereby
facilitated by cutting through many subliminal barriers.  Oftentimes, the same word can mean different things to different people
and a lack of consensual approach leads to bitter debates which are easily avoided by assigning precise meanings to specific
terms.  We shall shortly see in an instance of a philosophical schism germane to the present topic and how it can be reconciled  by
eliminating the confusion caused by semantics.


Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 09, 2013, 02:20:41 PM

Philosophical Meaning of Pratyabhijna-Darsanam:

The core doctrine of Kashimiri Saivism, is in fact, called Pratyabhijna Darsanam or the philosophy of Recognition, which teaches
that the individual self is, in essence, identical with the universal Self (Siva), when we discard the upadhis of vyashti and samashti.
Abhinavagupta in his Isvara Pratyabhijna Vimarshini (Jaidev Singh, Delhi 1977) gives an elaborate exposition of the above, which
is in perfect consonance with the Advaitic position as enunciated by Suresvaracharya in Manasollasa (Dakshinamurti Stotram with
Manasollasa, Samata Books, Madras, 1978).  The pratyabhijna of Atman consists in Jivatma (the embodied self) becoming
conscious that He is omniscient etc., owing to intuitive recognition of His essential nature as Infinite Consciousness, after
casting away all the notions of limitations experienced by the jiva through its association with Maya.  Sri Ramana expressed
the same identity between jiva and Isvara  (Upadesa Saram) from the standpoint of their true nature, shorn of all their upadhis
(attributes). Sri Sankara declared the identity as 'Brahman alone is Satyam, the world being illusory and jiva is none other than
Brahman.  (Asangoham verse 18). 

In ordinary life also, pratyabhijna then consists in the 'unification through cogitation' (anusandhanam) of what appeared before,
with what is appearing now, as in the statement that ascertains.  'This is the same person that I had encountered earlier.'
Recollection of a past experience is paramarsha or smriti.  The present cognition is pratyaksha.  When both pratyaksha and
paraamarsha occur at the same time together, it ignites a re-cognition, which is pratyabyijna.  In fact, most of our daily vyavaharika
activities are founded on pratyabhijna only.  But it takes place so fast and effortlessly as a continual process that it is taken
for granted and hardly given the recognition that it merits!


Arunchala Siva.               
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 10, 2013, 10:46:03 AM


Sri Sankaracharya employs this concept of pratyabhijna brilliantly in Verses 6 and 7 of his celebrated advaitic hymn
Dakshinamurti Stotram, to refute the hypothesis that there is no substantive underlying Reality behind the empirical
world experienced in every day life, even though the world is treated as illusory by the proponents of that theory.
(Among various theories of 'erroneous cognition' (khyati vada), one major theory is 'asat khyati vada' which asserts that
though the world is as unreal as an optical illusion like mirage waters, it does not emerge from a real substratum.  Advaita
does not accept this view - akin to Berkeley's solipsism - because the illusion of a snake cannot arise without a substratum
of a real rope.  In the same way, the illusory appearance of the world cannot arise without a real substratum, namely Brahman
(This is anirvachaniya khati).  Illusions are superimposition which always require a substratum to be projected upon, whereas
hallucinations are purely mental creations without any real  substratum or basis.  Vedanta declares that the world is not a
mental hallucination but an illusion that requires a substratum.  This is in the commentaries of Adhyasa Bhashya of Sri
Sankara, using the standard illusions of rope snake and silver nacre examples.)

Perspectives on the Source of All Creation:

The brilliant philosophers championing the Great Void theory (which bears close resemblance to Taoist philosophy, an
altogether independent system), broadly classified the whole creation into Jiva or individual self (subject or the seer) and
Jagat, that is, the world (which is the object or the seen  encountered by the former).  These nihilist philosophers treated
Jagat as an illusory creation of the mind denying it altogether even objective reality (see khyati vada). Being ephemeral and yet
perennial source of suffering, it was not considered worthy of deeper inquiry.  Instead they chose to focus on the sufferer,
the Jiva and analyzed the three states of human experiences, namely waking, dreaming and deep sleep states.


Arunachala Siva.                 
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 11, 2013, 06:27:31 AM


They rightly concluded that sushupti (deep sleep) is the source of the former two conditions in which both the 'seer' and
the 'seen' are experienced.  Analyzing sushupti itself, they concluded that since neither Jagat is experienced nor even the
Jiva is available in deep sleep, the underlying essence of both these entities is Nothingness or the Great Void (sunyam)
from which alone they emerge.

Al existence therefore has nothing but non existence (asat) as its origin or primordial source, which is said to be the ultimate
Reality.  Nothing exists in a positively real manner in this world.  There is no positively existing underlying Reality either, beneath
the illusion of the world appearance.  Thus the Void indicates the complete absence of any Real Entity and is Itself not a positive
entity.  Many centuries earlier, Lao Tzu also stated axiomatically (without taking recourse to logical tools) that all the manifest
worlds have emerged from the Great Void, the Mother of all creation.  For the moment, let this be a valid aspect of Reality.

We will see later how this can be reconciled in a qualified way in the Advaitic tradition.


Arunachala Siva.   
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 12, 2013, 11:27:59 AM

The Vedantic World View:

Reverting to the earlier discussion, the question arises, why does the Jiva forget its real nature and lose its identity with the
universal Self and thus fall into bondage?  Vedanta sastra answers this question thus: the jivatma confounds itself with the
various layers of his / her personality because of the deluding power of Maya.  These layers are called the 'five principal
sheaths' (kosas), beginning with the gross physical body as the outermost layer (annamaya kosa) and ending with causal
ignorance (kArana sarira), characterized by the bliss of ignorance in deep sleep (Anandamaya kosa), which is the innermost
sheath.  It is to be noted that these various sheaths do not literally cover the Atma but are said to cover the Jiva only by
virtue of casting the veil of ignorance through the veiling power (Avarana sakti) of Maya.

Consider now some examples.  The pot does not hide the clay out of which it is made nor does the ornament conceal the gold.
The cloth does not suppress or smother the yarn it is spun out of.  The waves and the bubbles in the ocean do not ever
camouflage the water.  In these classical examples, the name and form (nama rupa) of the objects merely steal away our
attention from the 'substantives' of the objects and this alone is said to be the veiling of our sight.  It is not literal
blinding of our vision.


Arunachala Siva.             
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 13, 2013, 10:56:32 AM


Thus all "names and forms" turn out to be apparent modifications of the underlying reality, and are no more than resting
flimsily on the tip of the tongue.  (Chandogya Upanishad, Verse 6.1.4-6...'Vacharabhanam vikaro namadeyam, mrittika it
eva satyam..' When a lump of clay is shaped into a pot, the clay nature of the pot remains unchanged; so also, gold does
not lose an iota of its inherent gold nature, upon an ornament formed out of it.  In any such 'value added product', the
only change (or value addition) pertains to the acquisition of merely a 'name that corresponds to the new form'; hence all
such transformations (such as pot, ornament, waves etc.,) are only apparent, not real.  Thus they are said to exist only
on the tongue tip as mere names. In the examples cited above, only the substantives such as clay, gold, water, are to be
considered real.  Similarly the world as a whole is reduced to mere 'nama rupa', resting on the substantive Brahman.

The modifications are apparent because water never ceases to be water, when it takes the form of bubbles, waves, or even
a mighty tsunami.  Ontologically, 'nama rupa' thus enjoys the status of mithya only i.e. apparent reality.  Ascertainment of mithya
is thus reduction of all things into mere 'nama rupa' and seeing the underlying substantive as the real entity.  This process called
'mithyatva nishchaya is a powerful aid in assimilating Vedantic teachings.           
Modern examples make this even clearer. For instance, reading essay makes us unconscious of the paper on which it is
printed.  The movie pictures dancing on the screen make us forget the screen. Saint Tirumoolar (Tirumandiram, Verse 2290)
sings famously that a life sized exquisite wooden carving of an elephant form 'hides the timber' it came from and appears as
though real from a distance but the 'elephant disappears into the wood', upon closer inspection.  In the same way, the world
which is made out of five great elements masks the Brahman from which it has emerged apparently. Upon realizing Brahman,
which is the ultimate source of all creation, the world of forms disappears into its Source. It is not literal disappearance because
perceptions continue but in our understanding everything resolves into Brahman.


Arunachala Siva.           
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 14, 2013, 11:14:37 AM


Thus for Jnanis like Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sadasiva Brahmendra, the attention is ever on the Self, the substratum
for the world appearance, (Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 18) which is now reduced to merely a passing show projected on the
screen of Consciousness. But without direct knowledge (aparoksha jnanam) of the substratum, Brahman, the phenomenal
world of names and forms (nama rupa jagat) perpetually deludes us into believing it as a reality show!

The Identity Crisis of the jivatma and its Resolution:

Thus among the five kosas enumerated by the scriptures that 'supposedly envelope' the Jivatma, the gross materialists
(like Charvakas) confound the physical body (annayama kosa) to be the Self.  The biologists identity It with sense organs,
and the vital airs that enliven them (pranamya kosa) while modern psychologists (like Freud and Jung and others) reduce
the Self to the mind principle (mano maya kosa).  Some philosophers identify the Self with the constantly changing intellect
principle (vijnanamya kosa), comparable to a lamp flame which is new in very moment of its life.  (Yogachara Buddhist
proponents).  As mentioned above, some others repudiated these progressively evolving philosophical formulations with
powerful tools of logic and finally established the Theory of Void as the irreducible final reality.   (The Madhaymika School
of Buddhists)  No doubt, these are laudable intellectual feats representing significant milestones but in the uncopmpromising
search for the ultimate Truth, they fall short in different measures.

Acharya Sankara lists these various philosophical perspectives in Verse 5 of Dakshinamurti Stotram and exclaims it is the power
of Maya that causes the jivatma's various levels of mistaken identities.  In Verse 6, he rejects the concept of Void by invoking
the phenomenon of Pratyabhijna, occurring while awakening from deep sleep.  In Verse 7, this vision of recognition is extended
to various stages of life and establishes Self as one invariant factor, which enables all cognitions to take place and thus is their
very substratum.


Arunachala Siva.
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 15, 2013, 01:05:45 PM


Echoing the Upanishadic declarations, Sri Sankara cites in Verse 4, the example of a clay jar, with many holes and a lamp
placed within, where the light emanates through the holes and illumines the objects in the room outside;  in a similar way,
the light of the Self flows through the five sense organs of perception, (Jnanendriyas) and illumines the world of our perception.
Thus the Self alone truly and independently shines and all the worlds shine only after that Intelligent Principle. (Katha Up.
v.2.5.15).  Bhagavan Ramana concurs identically with this position of Sri Sankara that the Consciousness principle inhering
in the Self alone constitutes absolute Knowledge and hence is not a Void -- Itself shining without any support whatsoever.
It supports and enlivens all relative knowledge.  (Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 12).

Exposition of Pratyabhijna - Darsanam through Analysis of deep sleep:

Sri Sankara cites in Verse 6 of Dakshinamurti Stotram, the universal experience of everyone after waking up from a refreshing
spell of deep sleep, exclaiming as 'I slept happily; I did not know anything !.  Analyzing this, 'not knowing anything' indicates
the 'absence of world' (called jagat abhava vrtti or nidra vrtti), which are technical synonyms for sleep).

However, in deep sleep, because one is not aware of oneself as in waking or dreaming, we should not hastily conclude that
one ceases to exist altogether, even temporarily


Arunachala Siva.                     
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 16, 2013, 11:27:03 AM


If it were so, as Bhagavan Ramana remarked, a Johnson going to sleep could wake up as a Benson, bereft of any continuity
in the identity of the person involved. (Talks No. 487).  The phrase 'slept happily' is the recollection component - smriti, while
the 'I' component indicates Pratyabhijna.  The phrase 'slept happily' cannot be classified as either pratyaksha (current
perception) or pratyabhijna (recognition), unless one makes the statement while one is asleep, which is clearly not possible.
This is because all the sense organs have been withdrawn into a passive, non operational condition (karanopsamharanam)
and no transaction with the world can occur during the sleep. 

To counter the objection of nihilists that since one is not aware of oneself in sleep, one becomes non existent temporarily
Acharya Sankara argues that if an object is not perceived, then there are two possibilities; either it is really absent or its
existence has been veiled by an unknown factor.  Before concluding that it is non existent, we have to make sure that there
is no veiling mechanism involved, which precludes its apprehension.  During deep sleep, Sri Sankara says the 'I' sense
(pure essence I AM) has not become non existent but has been merely covered by the veiling power (avarana sakti) of
Maya, just as during eclipse the sun or the moon is covered by the shadow of the moon or the earth respectively.


Arunachala Siva.           
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 17, 2013, 02:57:17 PM


Now during sleep, the mind has resolved into its causal body form (the kaarana sariram) and is only potentially existent
(bija avastha, i.e. seed state).  During transition into the waking state, the mind is roused from its potential form (or dormancy)
of the causal body, back into state of an operational inner instrument (anatahkaranam) by the projecting power (vikshepa sakti)
of Maya which is once again responsible for the perception of the world and oneself, thus making all transactions possible. 
But the mind in its causal mode of existence in deep sleep is capable of subconsciously registering one positive experience
(the pure presence, I AM) and two negative experiences viz., 'absence of the world' (jagat abhava vritti) and the 'absence
of 'I'-thought' (aham vritti abhava).

It is the recollection of these experiences, while gliding into the waking state that enables one to state clearly that 'I slept
well; I did not know anything. I was not aware of myself too.' 'While slept well' not know anything. I was not aware of myself
too.'  While 'slept well' refers to the past experience of the sleep and hence falls under smriti (recolection),  the 'I' component
of the statement does not come under this category of recollection of a past entity or something under spasmodically recurrent.
It must be classified as pratyabhijna because it refers to the past event of sushupti and its continued existence in the present
waking state too, without a break or an iota of change.

The only difference then is, in the waking state the 'I' shines prominently because it is available for interacting with the world
and exists in the 'transactional mode'.  In deep sleep, then 'I' becomes a non transactional entity (eclipsed by Maya) and
reverts to the merely 'existential mode' as pure awareness as pure essence (nirvisesha, saamaanya satta), that is, the non-
prominent substratum.


Arunachala Siva.   
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 18, 2013, 02:16:14 PM


Thus the 'waker' himself was the 'sleeper' and being one and the same Jiva, it is a re-cognition.  It is neither a new cognition
(or knowledge of a new entity) nor mere remembrance of the past.  This is the essence of pratyabhijna.  Similarly, Self Knowledge
is also an awakening from the beginningless slumber of 'primal ignorance' (Mandukya Karika V.1.16) and is best described in a
paradoxical terms like 'Attainment of the Already Attained'.  (praptasya praptih) and 'Revelation of the Ever Revealed' (anaavrtasya
niraavaranam) !

In Verse 6 of Dakshinamurti Stotram, Sri Sankara clearly states that during sushupti, the experience of the 'absence of the world'
(jagat abhava vrtti) is because of the withdrawal of all sense organs of perceptions into a passive mode and the lapsing of the
mind into its causal seed form.  That is, the antahkaranam (mind) merges into the kaarana sariram (causal sheath), and ceases
to function as the 'inner instrument'. Both I AM  (the pure unqualified and limitless Sat aspect) and the 'absence of I thought
(aham vrtti abhava) are registered in the kaarana sariram which are recollected upon waking.  The imprint of the former, I AM
is responsible for the waker's statement, 'I did exist in sleep' and the imprint of the latter, 'the absence of I thought' is responsible
for his saying, 'I was not aware of myself in sleep.'  No one ever says, 'I did not exist in sleep!'  To claim non existence in sleep
is ludicrous, for effectively it means 'I died in sleep and revived upon waking mysteriously', since death is nothing but a withdrawal
of existence.'


Arunachala Siva.             
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on August 19, 2013, 11:34:56 AM

The Self being Sat Chit Ananda Svarupa, the power of Maya can only veil the Chit (consciousness) aspect but cannot destroy
the Sat (Being) or Ananda (bliss) aspects.  The Bhagavad Gita declares that for Sat (the Self, which alone qualifies as the real)
there can be no non existence while the unreal can never have existence.  (Bhagavad Gita 2.16).  That is why everyone desires
the happiness experienced in deep sleep and uncaused happiness inheres only in the limitless pure Existence principle (Sat
tattvam). (Who am I?).  Thus when a person enters the state of deep sleep, the Upanishad says, he merges with Existence,
which is the ultimate reality that constitutes the very nature of his Self and therefore attains his own Self. (Chandogya Upanishad

Bhagavan Ramana affirms that this Self ever shining as pure Consciousness in all three states, is alone to be known as true
Knowledge and can never be deemed as a void.  (Sad Darsanam v.14.).

In the next installment, we shall see how it is possible to arrive at a reconciliation of the Advaitic position with the Void
theory as also the experiential nature of enlightenment based on Prayabhijna.

concluded, for the present.

will be continued upon receipt of the next issue (Oct.-Dec. 2013) of Mountain Path.

Arunachala Siva.         
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 18, 2013, 03:31:10 PM
Pratyabhijna Darsanam in the Vision of Adi Sankara and Sri Ramana Maharshi:

Part II:

(This is continuation of the article from Mountain Path - July-Sept. 2013 issue): 

The Experiential Nature of Pratyabhijna Samadhi:

In the first part of the article, that appeared in the above cited issue,  we explored the essential concepts of pratyabhijna in
the context of spiritual sadhana and its ultimate manifestation as the dawning of Self Knowledge.  This happens at the pinnace
of human effort.  Pratyabhijna is the culminating Recognition of the Self in its true, immaculate form, which unravels the mystery
of the Self once for all.  It can be said to be a home coming after our wandering the world over in search of the Holy Grail and
then finally stumbling on it, at last, at one's door steps from where, out of ignorance, the wearisome outward search originally
began.  The discovery happens in utter surrender to the Higher Power after realizing one's total helplessness.

In the life of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, the purest form of bhakti wrought this magical transformation of an intense seeker,
who had little knowledge of Vedanta Sastras, into a purna jnani.  For Bhagavan Sri Ramana, equally unschooled in spiritual lore,
the explosion of pratyabhijna happened, when, as a teenager, in earnest quest of His true identity, He confronted fearlessly
the prospect of Death, like Nachiketas in the Katha Upanishad, with a cool, sharp and pure intellect.

One may ask, what was the common thread in both these celebrated histories, aside from the lack of academic knowledge,
which made the result so exceptional?  Temperamentally, the two could not have been more dissimilar.  The former dwelt perpetually
in the emotional realm of ecstasy (bhava samadhi), while the latter was the epitome of reason, anchored in rock like stillness -
achalam.  Sri Ramakrishna was on the verge of offering his very life at the altar of Truth, after a pointless, futile pursuit, it seemed,
in which he had staked his all.  As for Bhagavan Ramana, through an intense stimulation of physical death with an ideal scientific
temper of rigorous objectivity, He laid His very life on the funeral pyre of self inquiry.  Internally this was no less dramatic than
the threat of physical extinction that Sri Ramakrishna had dared to impose on himself in the Kali temple under the gaze of the
Divine Mother, when he took up a sword challenging the principle of Truth to reveal Itself or accept his self sacrifice.                               

In Vedantic terms, in either case, the core ego was offered, in an inimitable style that confronted to their individual temperaments
as the bali naivedyam.  This ultimate offering was gladly consumed by the Lord (Atma Devata), (see Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 21:
'tannai tAn kANal .... ooNadal kAN', and also Katha Upanishad, V.1.2.25: 'Yasya brahma cha kshatram cha ubhe bhavata Odanah,
mrtyuh yasya upasechanam kah itthA veda yatra sah.' was the climax of all their sadhana. In a spiritual resurrection, the immortal
spirit took over, superseding the dying jiva.  In both the cases, the descent of Grace, in the form of prayabhijna samadhi demonstated
the Upanishadic proclmation (Katha Up. 1.2.23. 'nAyam Atma pravcehanena labhyah na medhyA na bahunA shrutena, yamaivesha
vrunute tena labhyah Atma vivrunute tanum svAm.').


Arunachala Siva.     
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 19, 2013, 11:02:53 AM
Pratyabhijna - On the Experiential Nature of Enlightenment.

Pratyabhijna - Darsanam  in the Vision of Adi Sankara and Sri Ramana Maharshi:

"This Self is not attained by delivering discourses nor by mere scriptural erudition and phenomenal memory or by a prolonged
often addictive, listening to the Vedantic expositions.  It is gained by the one who exclusively chooses to know the Self alone,
and would settle for nothing in lieu of Self Knowledge.  To such a supreme tyagi, (renouncer), the Self chooses to reveal Its
true nature.'  Elsewhere it is said, 'It is through tyaga (renunciation of the ego, the supreme offering to the Lord) aloe that
Immortality is attained.  (Kaivalya Up. 1.2. 'na karmNA na prajyA dhanena, tyAenaika amratvam Anasuh.' ).

Grace Ignites Enlightenment:

From these two illustrious examples, it is clear, that the immaculate knowledge of he Self (aparoksha jnanam) revealed
itself in pratyabhijna samadhi.  Both these great souls were anchored unshakably in it for the rest of their lives and guided
others to the same perfection.  Enlightenment   (para vidya) is thus a direct experiential knowledge for ending the cycle of
transmigration (samsara).  The operation of Grace is indispensably woven into this revelation.  The element of the Self
choosing the recipients of the Self Knowledge is thus contingent upon the unflinching commitment to the pursuit, which in
turn, makes them worthy receptacles.  Without surrender of the ego, the most valiant human effort cannot unlock the floodgates
of Grace,

Even for the celestial gods, the same holds true.  The Kenopanishad reveals that the mighty gods Indra, Vayu and Agni were
humbled they were blessed with Brahma Vidya.  The same truth is revealed by the Arunachala Tattvam where even the Creator
Brahma and the Sustainer Vishnu could not find the ends of the column of Light that manifested out of Grace to remove their
delusion. In the pauranika allegory, the beginning less and end less Self could not be reached by the intellect or the ego, symbolized
by Brahma and Vishnu respectively.  (Sri Arunachala Tattvam verse; buddhi ahamkAram... aNNamaliayinadu meiyye.)


Arunachala Siva.             
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 21, 2013, 11:20:06 AM


If Self Knowledge were a matter of mere intellectual understanding of the Vedantic truths -- however profound and well
assimilated -- it would come purely under purusha tantra - where human effort alone is sufficient).  The factor of divine
Grace (asserted as indispensable in the Kathopanishad verse cited earlier, would then be superfluous.  But Bhagavan
Ramana taught that in the quest for the final beatitude, it is Grace that triggers the search, drives all the efforts, manoeuvres
the twists and turns in the journey and finally showers the ultimate reward for one's unrelenting perseverance (mumushtvam).
(Talks No. 157).  The surrender of the ego, through intense self inquiry, alone finally brings about the manifestation of
Grace in the form of pratyabhijna.

Self Knowledge, by definition, comes under Vastu tantra, that is, it cannot be known by anything other than Itself.   (Sri
Sadhu Om, Arunachala Venba Verse 39).  The ego cannot know the Self as an object.  The resolution of the ego is the pre-
requisite for Self Knowledge to shine forth.  That which truly exists is called vastu.  Since the Self alone qualifies as the vastu
Grace becomes its embodiment, by virtue of the Self being a perennial blessing.  This then is the purport of the Upanishadic
affirmation that the Self chooses the egoless, pure souls, and fills them with Self Knowledge,  (yamaivesha vrunute).  Through
surrender, Grace infuses us and ripens us for Self Knowledge because nothing else is desired or sought in its place.  In hsi
heart melting outpouring of Akshara Manamalai, Bhagavan invokes Grace (aruL) numerous times using the word 'AruL'.
He attributes to Grace His own awakening and the consummation of the search for His Father, Arunachala Siva.

In all worldly accomplishments, a man can perhaps legitimately pride himself to be 'self made'.  But in spirituality, pratyabhijna
transforms the ordinary jiva into a Sage, who is 'Self made'  by the annihilation of his title, separative self (vyakti bodha nAsah).
This alone truly constitutes enlightenment or Self Realization.  (vide Talks No;. 500).  All of us experience a limited personality
due to dehatma buddhi, which is the offspring of primal ignorance, and this veils our limitless real nature. Eradication of this
ignorance  alone brings in its wake, emancipation (apavarga) from the bondage of samsara.

Bhagavan Ramana expains the term pratyabhijna in a simple manner:  abhijna means direct perception (pratyaksha), as in
'This is an elephant';  prati is to be reminded of what was already known (smriti) as in 'This is That elephant'.  Together
prati + abhijna =  pratyabhijna.  In technical parlance, pratyabhijna is used - in the noun form - as 'recognition' of the
ever present reality shining as the Self, by paying exclusive attention to it.  In the verb form, pratyabhijna means 'to recognize'.


Arunachala Siva.                   
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 22, 2013, 02:50:52 PM
Pratyabhijna in the Eyes of Acharya Sankara:

As discussed in detail, in Part I earlier, Sri Sankaracharya employs the word pratyabhijna explicitly in Verse 6 of Sri
Dakshinamurti Stotram to indicate the unbroken, constant experience of the Self as we transit from deep sleep into waking
state, and this alone enables the recollection of unalloyed happiness in sushupti.  However, in 1st verse itself,  the concepts
of pratyabhijna and advaita drishti are presented cryptically.  In Verse 1, the venerable Acharya declares that the world is
just like 'a reflection of a city in a mirror'.  and therefore unreal as is a normal reflection.  Just as a reflection is within the mirror
and never outside it, the world is seen merely as a reflection within the Self.  But due to play of Maya, the world is felt to
exist outside of us, because we limit our identity to the confines of the body.

To illustrate this, Acharya Sankara gives the dream example in the 2nd line of Verse 1, where the dreamer experiences the
dream world, outside his dream body.  though both are enclosed within the dream.  Upon waking out of the dream, the waker
now finds only himself in a non-dual manner, with the duality of the dreamer and the dream world totally resolved into himself.
In the same way, upon recognition of the Self (pratyabhijna), the identity of the jiva undergoes a radical change when he no
longer sees himself as a limited body but identifies with the infinite Consciousness (akhanda bodha swarupa atma).  Thus
upon waking up from the sleep of ignorance, a 'gestalt'  shift occurs in the perspective of the now enlightened sage.  For him,
the world is now seen within the limitless ocean of Consciousness -- the One non dual Self everywhere, for there is no outside
at all.   The genius of Adi Sankara as a sage-philosopher-poet shines brilliantly in the 3rd line of Verse 1 in the Dakshinamurti
Stotram, where the upamanam (dream example) and the upameyam (the indicated reality, that is, enlightenment, meld
seamlessly without the slightest distinction, as it applies perfectly to both the indicator (svapna drishtAantam) and the indicated
reality (drshtAntam) yat sAkshatkurute prabodha samaye svAtmAnam evAdvyam.....

This is the ultimate non dual vision (advaita drishti) where the triads like the 'seer, seen and seeing' are resolved in one
homogeneous mass of Consciousness (prajnana ghanam).  He then exalts with this realization, 'In Me alone, the creation
is born; in Me it is sustained and in Me alone it is dissolved. Thus I am that infinite, non dual Brahman. (Kaivalya Upanishad
Verse 1.19 'mayyave sakalam jAtam, mayi sarvam pratishititam, mayi sarvam layam, yAti tadbrahmAdvyam asmi aham.'

Adi Sankara therefore advises the seeker the practice of 'seeing the world as the very form of Brahman, with the eye of wisdom.'
(Aparokshanubhuti Verse 116: 'drishtim jnAnamayim kritvA, pasyet brahmamayam jagat.')

The Upanishad also exhorts, 'Pervade the entire world of all that moves and moves not, with the vision of the Lord....'
(Isa. Up. Verse 1:  'isAvAsyam idagam sarvam yat kincha jagatyAtm jagat....')


Arunachala Siva.                             
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 23, 2013, 01:50:20 PM

Bhagavan Ramana illuminates this terse verse that catches the essence of enlightenment as follows:  The light of the Self is
reflected in the mirror of Mahat tattvam (buddhi) and the reflected light is the mind-ether (chitta akasha) or the pure mind. 
This illumines the latent tendencies (vasanas) of the individual and thereby the sense of the ego (aham vritti, 'I') and the world
(idam vritti, 'this') arises.  That is, the emergence of the first and second persons takes place, as the 'subject-object division'.
(Talks No. 569). For the ajnani (ignorant), since his identity is limited to the body (dehatma buddhi), the mechanics of this
perception makes him believe that the world exists outside him. (Talks 442).

The dualists do not accept this even as a plausible explanation.  They latch on to the example of the 'reflected city in the mirror',
literally and raise the objection that 'if this world is an unreal reflection, there must then be an original world (bimba) outside
the mirror that causes the reflected image (prati bimba) within it and this new world would validate  a real creation, after all!'
Bhagavan Ramana explains that this is not really so and the apparent limitation of the example must not drive us to infer a patently
wrong conclusion.  (Bhagavan Ramana is categorical in asserting that vasnas alone constitute the original inner world (like a seed
that potentially contains a tree), whose projection (as a reflection through the mirror of the intellect) manifests as the physical
world outside with a sense of concrete reality about it;  The verse under discussion does not present this idea explicitly, but
verse 2 of Dakshinamurti Stotram contains the germ of this idea.).

Examples in Vedanta; Their Power and Limitations:

The  extension of a metaphor beyond its limited scope does violence to the Advaitic position, based on the grounds of an
imperfect example, would then be tantamount to throwing out the baby along with the bath water.  Bhagavan says that
this is precisely the reason why Acharya Sankara gives in the 2nd line of Verse 1, the example of dream phenomenon, which
is better in some respects than the first one and guide the jignasu (the seeker) gradually to deeper levels of clarity. 

The dream example in turn, is also not perfect as it suffers from severe limitation which the previous example of mirror does not
have.  Upon waking up from the dream state, the dreamer and the dream world disappear completely in the consciousness of
the waker.  But upon awakening into Self Knowledge, the objective world does not in corresponding manner vanish for the Jnani.
Because he sees the world and transacts with it just as before, very much like the unenlightened majority.  The dualists again demur
at this lack of correspondence between the example and the indicated reality and contend that because of this defect, the dream
example cannot be cited as a valid proof to establish the unreality of the world. 


Arunachala Siva.       
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 24, 2013, 02:42:00 PM


Advaitins counter that this extrapolation is unwarranted and the example is not meant for achieving total equivalence in all
respects with the Advaitic vision.  If the objective world were to physically disappear upon a seeker becoming a realized
soul, like the collapse of the dream upon waking, the entire Jnani-guru-sishya parampara would become null and void.
The teaching tradition itself would disappear, if illogical extensions of example were to hold sway. In this respect, we can
say that the example of 'reflection in the mirror' is better because even after knowing that it is unreal, the reflection does not
disappear but continues to be seen.  Thus the world continues to be perceived by the Jnani even after enlightenment but
it loses its 'deadly sting of reality' present during the phase of ajnana. 

The methodology of teaching Advaita tradition requires that different examples are used in conjunction (upamana prakriya)
for illustrating different aspects of the doctrine and thus facilitate a comprehensive apprehension of reality.  (The various
examples used in Vedanta can be loosely equated to the parable of 'six blind men, each describing a particular aspect of the
elephant'.  Putting it together all the different inputs from many examples, which are inherently defective, can help in
intuiting the nature of the indefinable Brahman, keeping in mind that the 'whole is much more than the sum of the parts.')

In dealing with the paradigm of Advaitic truth, no example is available that is perfect in all respects.  Actually, if a perfect
analogy were to be available, that itself would instantly dismiss Advaitic Siddhanta from its status as a valid framework
\of ultimate Truth.   This is because Brahman is one non dual reality (ekam advitiyam brahma).  There is no second Brahman
available to serve as a perfect example.

To drive home this point, Advaitins resort to saying in a manner of 'tautology', 'the sky is like the sky, the ocean is like the ocean
and the incomparable battle between Lord Rama and Ravana is like Rama-Ravana battle itself.'  (gaganam gaganAkaram sAgaram
sAgaropamam, Rama-Ravanayor yuddham Rama-Ravanyor iva.')

In all these cases, there is simply no perfect equivalent example to illustrate the original idea.  If we cannot find suitable example
to illustrate the original idea.  If we cannot find suitable equivalents to describe even physical entities like the sea or sky, how then
to speak of Brahman which is beyond the reach of the words and mind?  (ref: Kena Up. 1.3. 'na tatra chakshur gacchati na
vAgacchati no manah, na vidmah na vijAnimah yathatat anusishyAt.'  )

Compelled to work within these inescapable constraints of language and conceptual limitations, we are forced to adopt a
syncretic approach as the next best option, where we extract the best out of every example and put them together to arrive
at a holistic vision.  This is so far as intellectual understanding can proceed  regarding the inconceivable Brahman, which is
declared as different from all that is known and indeed, transcends even the unknown.  (ref:  Kena. Up.  1.4. 'anyadeva tadvidiitAt
atho aviditAt adhi....')

Nevertheless the rope-snake analogy is perhaps matchless in its scope and depth, being the best among all the imperfect
illustrations, as we shall see presently.  Bhagavan Ramana asserts that the reality of the world vision is compatible with Brahmic
vision, as it is sublated (i.e. falsified or negated) by the latter, just as the snake vision is negated by the rope vision.  (Who am I?:
When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears.  When the world appears (to be real), the Self does not appear;
when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear.)

Brahma drishti is however irrevocable as it destroys the primal ignorance (mula avidya) together with its consequent effects,
namely samsara and its attendant sufferings. Hence it experientially validates the vision of Advaita.


Arunachala Siva.                                         
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 25, 2013, 01:47:20 PM


Sublating Vision Finally Wins:

As Sri Sankara expounds, 'the world is not entirely unreal,  because of its being perceived (pratiyamanatvat sat).  But it is
certainly not real either, because it is subject to sublation (badhyamanatvat asat), in the wake of Brahma Jnanam. That is why,
the world (which is a product of anivachaniyam Maya) cannot be classified as either real (sat) or as entirely unreal (asat) but
comes under the category of mithya.  Vachaspati Mishra in his celebrated work Bhamati (The Adyar Library Research Center, 1992),
(which is a commentary on the Brahma Sutra Bhashya of Sri Sankara) asserts that a thousand Upanishads cannot convert a pot
into a cloth, because perception is an experience that cannot admit opposition from even scriptural authority.  Verbal testimony
(Sruti pramana) cannot annul the empirical validity of sensory perception of knowledge, including the Vedas. However, Vachaspati
Misra says that the Upanishads can, in a higher dimension of knowledge, namely Brahma Vidya, annul the absolute validity of
perception because the knowledge of reality of the world gained from sensory perception suffers sublation in aparoksha jnanam
of Brahman.

Reverting to the rope snake example, when the true 'rope vision' is gained, the false 'snake vision' disappears and along with it,
the fear it caused.  If the snake vision were not to be falsified, the latter cognition of rope, whose essence is the sublation of the
former snake cognition, could never occur.  That is, the rope can never be seen without falsifying the snake.  In the classical
Advaita text of Ozhivil Odukkam, the author Kannudaiya VaLLalAr paints this poignantly.  (Verse 1.235).  'When rope knowledge
has arisen and all fear of illusory snake has vanished, with its accompanying effects of palpitations, profuse sweating etc.,
can one even can one even simulate the fear of snake with all its symptoms as a repeat performance, by deliberately superimposing
the snake on the rope once again?  In the same way for a Jnani anchored in the Brahmi sthiti, can the former states suffered
by the jiva in the realm of ajnana ever revisit him, even if he invites them with great ardor?  Bhagavan Ramana also confirms
that the world appearance can never again overwhelm a Jnani, who has seen  the Truth and crossed the delusion of bondage.
(Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 9).

Pratyabhijna in the Vision of Bhagavan Ramana:

The very last composition of Bhagavan Ramana, Ekatma Panchakam was written in February 1947, and contains five verses
upon the non dual Atma.  These verses have revolutionary implications for Vichara Sadhana because coming from the Svanubhuti
of Bhagavan, they set the final seal of approval on ajata vada as the ultimate truth of His life-long unswerving Self abidance.
The very first verse distils the essence of pratyabhjna samadhi, as we shall see now. 

tannai marandu tanuve tAnAveNNi yeNNil piRavi yedutthuriduthi tannai uNarndu tAnAdal, ulaga sanchArak kanavin
vizhitthal kAN.....

The true original nature of a human being is the Self, ever shining as the limitless pure Consciousness (akhanda bodha svarupam
atma).  Awareness of this true nature of oneself is equated here to the real waking state reality.  Thus forgetfulness of the truth
of the Self is then equated to the sleep of ignorance.  In this state of forgetfulness (pramda), he is deluded and limits himself to the
physical body, whereas he is truly the infinite Consciousness principle.  This restricted individuality (parichchinna vyakti bodhah)
constitutes the fall from bhuma sthiti (infinitude) to alpa jivatvam (finitude).  The Upanishad proclaims, 'In the Infinitude alone,
there is absolute joy; there is no joy in finitude. That which indeed is the Infinite, is immortal; that which is finite is but mortal.'
(Chandogya Up. 7.23.1. and 7.24.1).

The assumption of this limited role corresponds to the dream state in his sleep of self-ignorance.  Thus this sleep (avidya nidra),
the person projects a dream world wherein he confounds himself as a helpless creature (the jiva, who is the dreamer), and
undergoes untold misery.  He is then whirled helplessly in countless births of transmigratory cycle.  (Dakshinamurti Stotram,
Verse 8.).


Arunachala Siva.                         
Title: Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
Post by: Subramanian.R on October 26, 2013, 01:30:02 PM

The dreamer travels all over the world in his dream, undergoing countless experiences of pleasure and pain.  In the end, he
is helplessly pushed out of the dream into the waking state.  Instantly, he feels immense relief that all his tiresome exertions
were unreal, realizing that he has been lying all along comfortably in his own bed.  In the same way, all our struggles and
spiritual sadhanas of self inquiry (following the instructions of the Advaita Jnana Guru), and finally realizing the Self and getting
liberated from the cycle of birth and death, amounts to merely waking up from the beginning-less sleep of Self-ignorance. 
(See Mandukya Karika: Verse 1.16.  'anAdi mAyayA suptah yadA jivah prabudhyate, ajam anidram asvapanam advaitam budhyate tadA.'

Thus by recognition of the true nature of the Self (pratyabhijna) we finally realize that all our sufferings in the preceding lives have
been just a dream on the mythical wheel of samsara.  We laugh at our own folly and know that our real Swarupa had never suffered   
the slightest dent at any time.

As Sage Gaudapada declared, 'There is never any creation or dissolution, neither a bound jiva nor a seeker, none striving for release,
and finally no liberated person either.  This is the ultimate vision of Truth.  (Mandukya Karika: Verse 2.32.  'na nirodho nachotpattihi
na baddho na cha sAdhaka na mumukshuh na vai muktah ityeshA paramArthatA.'

The verse of Ekatma Panchakam, reveals this as final truth of ajata anubhava, borne out in the pratyabhijna samadhi of the
Self, wherein Bhagavan recalled all His life from that the momentous day of His Enlightenment.


Arunachala Siva.