Author Topic: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P  (Read 8339 times)


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #15 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.').


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #16 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.)


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #17 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'.


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #18 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....')


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #19 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. 


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #20 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.


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #21 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.).


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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #22 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.