Author Topic: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.  (Read 1157 times)

Subramanian.R

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The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« on: December 25, 2015, 02:27:40 PM »
This article is from Jan-Mar.2015 by V.S.Krishnan:


Around the 8th century, when dark clouds of ignorance overshadowed this land, spiritual values
had declined and the people were looking for direction and guidance, a powerful spiritual leader
emerged from the South, like the sun radiating brilliant rays of knowledge. He was Lord Siva,
embodied as man, descended to earth in order to light the lamp of Jnana.  He manifested as a guru
to the whole universe (Jagad Guru) and a guru for all time. He revealed the truth as expounded
in the Vedas and Upanishads.  Renouncing the world as a young boy, he soon realized  his identity
with Brahman itself.  Being ever established in the non dual Self, he became the very embodiment
of Advaita, the philosophy that he expounded.  He dispelled the prevalent wrong notions of religion,
condemned various schools of spurious thought and brought about an unmistakable spiritual awakening
among the people of India.  This remarkable personage was Adi Sankara, the Acharya who lived a         
few short years but whose glory will be extolled as long as humanity lives.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2015, 05:48:13 PM »
Following his initiation into Sannyasa by Govinda Bhagavadpada, Sankaracharya embarked on an
extensive pilgrimage of the land.  In the course of his pilgrimage (Digvijaya), he visited many temples
of importance and composed immortal verses on Siva, Vishnu, and a host of other a host of other
popular deities.  He was Jnana personified. Attracted by his philosophy and captivated by the divine
power that radiated from him, many admirers and followers flocked to his feet and sought his blessings
and guidance.  There were renowned scholars like Mandana and Bhaskara who challenged him for debate
on Advaita, the importance of karma, etc.,  only to be vanquished.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.     

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2015, 02:19:39 PM »
There were a few who were particularly inspired by the Acharya's philosophy.  Eager to cross the
turbulent ocean of samsara, they came to him and sought to serve him as his disciples. Among
them, four stand out by virtue of their dedication, discipline, devotion and knowledge.  The first and
foremost of them was a brahmin named Sanandana, who hailed from the land where the river Kaveri
flows.  It is said that the waters of Kaveri have the unique power of awakening intense spirituality
in those who partake of them. He came to the Acharya, fell at his feet and said:  I seek your grace.
Please be gracious enough to permit me to imbibe the nectar of wisdom that flows from your lips.

Full of compassion and recognizing his worthiness, the Acharaya accepted him as his disciple. Once,
while the Acharya was getting ready to deliver a discourse near the bank of Ganga, Sanandana
happened to be on the other side of the river.  When the Acharya beckoned to him to join the group,
Sanandana implicitly obeyed his master and, unaware of what he was doing, started walking across
the river.  Such was the greatness of his faith and obedience to the master, that mother Ganga sprouted
a lotus as support under each of his steps, earning him the name Padmapada. 

Continuing his pilgrimages, the Acharya reached the city of Mahishmati by the Narmada.  This was the
hometown of the great scholar and exponent of ritualistic school of Vedanta, Mandana Misra, whom
the Acharya wanted to debate in order to establish the superiority of Advaita over Karmakanda.  Legend
has it that the boy Acharya used a ruse to literally land inside Mandana's compound when the latter was
engaged in a Sraddha ceremony where a Sannyasin's  presence was a taboo.

Mandana was understandably annoyed and proceeded to shoo him away with taunts and insults.  The
Acharya took it all in his stride with obvious amusement.  After the initial banter, the two agreed to a
debate, wagering that the party that was defeated would convert to the other's way of life.  A fierce
debate ensued, at the end of which Mandana clearly saw the reason behind Sankara's doctrine of unity
of all existence and the illusory nature of the phenomenal world. He realized that Sankara was the
embodiment of Siva, who had come to help humanity to overcome the bondage of samsara, and willingly
followed him as disciple.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2015, 02:04:08 PM »
Suresvara, as he later came to be known, was chosen by the Acharya as the person qualified to interpret
aspects of his teachings through a Vartika or exegetical work.  "A Vartikam is defined as the work which
clearly explains what has been said, what has been left unsaid and what has been ill said." 

Among the other works of that Suresvara composed, Naiskarmya Siddhi is noted for its comprehensiveness,
precision and clarity and a supplement to Upanishadic teachings.  The Acharya appreciated the commitment
of Suresvara to Vedanta and also entrusted him wit the work of writing commentaries on Brihadaranyaka
and Taittiriya Upanishads.

Then there was a third disciple, a young boy by the name of Hastamalaka, whom the Acharya met
while returning from Mookambika, a small village called Sribali. It seemed that the young boy was
looking for the arrival of the Acharya at his village and, having introduced himself, got the rare honor
of accompanying Acharya as his disciple.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2015, 11:16:21 AM »
The fourth disciple, named Giri, joined the Acharya at Sringeri.  He was so devoted to his Guru that
he would anticipate in advance whatever the Acharya needed.  He found immense satisfaction in
serving the Acharya.  One day, before beginning his discourse, the Acharya noticed that Giri was
missing and waited for his arrival.  The other disciples did not like the Acharya waiting for Giri whom
they consider their intellectual inferior.  The Acharya wanted to quell the pride of these disciples.
When Giri returned, the Acharya bestowed instant knowledge and spiritual powers on him.  Giri
thereupon composed a profound hymn in the meter called Totaka, distilling the essence of Vedanta.
He thus came to be known as Totakacharya. It is believed that these four principal disciples -
Padmapada, Suresvara, Hastamalaka and Totaka symbolized the four Vedas or the four eternal
values dharma, artha, kama, and moksha.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2015, 02:54:51 PM »
Now let us look a little more closely at the contribution of the third disciple, Hastamalaka, to our
understanding of the basic concepts of Advaita.  The residents of his village Sribali were noted for
their strict adherence to the principles of dharma.  Among the villagers was one Prabhakara, who was
much concerned about the strange behavior of his son. When the Acharya reached the village, Prabhakara
went to him along with his 13 year old son.  After prostrating himself before the compassionate Acharya,
Prabhakara explained his problem to him. He said that his son, mute from childhood, showed no
likes or dislikes and remained totally inactive. He requested the Acharya to see the child and find out
the cause of his utter indifference to his surroundings.   The boy also fell at the feet of Acharya along
with his father, still continued in that position.  The Acharya picked him up and asked:  'Who are you?
Where are you from and whence are you headed?'

The boy's profound response to this seemingly casual inquiry startled everyone present.  The young
teenager, who appeared  to incapable of speech, now spoke lucidly and eloquently in a series of
fourteen beautiful poems. Here are a few significant ones among those:

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                 

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2015, 10:36:05 AM »
" I am neither a human, nor a Deva, nor a Yaksha. I am neither a Brahmana, Kshatriya nor Sudra.
I am neither a bachelor, nor a householder and nor a forest dweller.  I am not a monk either. I am
the Self whose nature is pure awareness.  (Naham Manushya...)

" I am that ever existing Self, the Atman, which causes my mind and senses to function,  just as
the sun causes all movements on the earth. I am the Atman that is devoid of all limiting adjuncts,
that is infinite like the vast space above and is ever existent. (Nimittam Manaschakshuradhi...)


" I am the Self which gives me the consciousness of my existence, the  consciousness and the Self
being inseparable like fire and heat.  I am the Atman, which is independent of the inner organs like
the mind and senses and yet cause them to function.  (Yamagnyushnavat...)

" I am the Atman, Self effulgent, from whose reflection the intellect functions just as the glittering
image of the sun is reflected on the water pots on the ground.  I am the Atman, the source of power,
which enlightens the intellect, illumines the mind and enlivens the body.  I am the ever present Atman
who pervades all objects and yet remains unaffected, just as the vast space prevails all over and yet
is untouchable.  (Ya Eko...)

" I am the reflection of Lord Vishnu, the all pervading, self effulgent reality, unchanging like the reflection
of the moon on moving water and undiluted like clear crystal, covered with colorful clothes.  I am ever
free (nityamuktah) and pure (nirmala)."  (Upadhou....)


What a wonderful way of expressing the Eternal Truth, the Self, clearly delineating the oneness of Atman,
the light that is the reflection of Brahman, the ever shining Reality!  As the boy's father stood astonished,
unable to believe his ears, the boy continued....:

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2015, 11:26:38 AM »
"Oh great Teacher, I am one with the Undivided Bliss, free from six states of infatuation, hunger, thirst,
old age, and death as also from six conditions of beginning, continuance, growth, change, decay and
destruction.  This consciousness of Atman is common to all liberated ones."

As the knowledge of the Self seemed natural to him, like the amalaka (gooseberry) in one's own hand,
Sankara named him Hastamalaka.

The Acharya then addressed the boy's father:  "This boy was born as your son because of his incomplete
austerities in a past life.  He is clearly gifted with innate Self Knowledge.  He has not the least attachment
to house or property, nor has he any sense of 'I--ness' with regard to the body.  He knows that all objects
including the body, are external to him."  The Acharya continued:  "It would not be proper for you to keep
him here since he wishes to remain detached from all external objects.  Let him stay with me."

Prabhakara readily consented and the Acharya took the boy in his entourage and headed towards
his next destination.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2015, 10:12:49 AM »
Later, one of the other disciples asked Acharya as to how, without going through the process of spiritual
practices like inquiry, meditation, or without receiving instruction from a guru, this boy could attain
Self Realization. The Acharya replied: 'Once a highly evolved saint was sitting on the bank of a river when
a woman went near him and requested the saint to take care of her two year old child as she was going
to take her bath.  The saint who was meditating did not notice the baby.  The baby crawled away and
fell into the river.  Picking up the dead body of the child, the woman started crying aloud.  Taking pity
on the mother, the saint used his powers and entered into the body of the child and brought life to it.
This woman was the wife of Prabhakara and her child, who inherited all the qualities of the saint has grown
up as a young lad.'

During the next few years, the Acharya brought about a spiritual renaissance in the country through
his inspired discourses and popular works like Atmabodha, Aparokshanubhuti and Vivekachudamani.
However, over the centuries, the questions contained to crop up as to why the mind could not be at
peace.  Seekers continued to ask why the Self could not be realized even after years of rigorous
contemplation.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
       

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2016, 11:55:32 AM »
We are fortunate that Sri Ramana Maharshi, considered the manifestation of the young preceptor
Dakshinamurti, has provided us the with the ANSWER.  He said:  'What can be easier then the
Self Realization? Is there anyone who is not realizing the Self?  Does anyone deny his own existence?'
The very awareness of one's existence by which one says, 'I AM' is Self Knowledge. 'There is nothing
to realize afresh.  The Self is already there.  It is eternally obvious.  It is already realized.  It is ever
present (nitya siddha).  It is more intimate than anything.'  Though a person cannot see his own eyes,
he cannot deny the existence of the eyes.  Though one needs the help of the senses to see and listen,
one need not depend on one's senses or mind to know that one exists.  According to Bhagavan,
the consciousness is registering its presence forever.  The consciousness 'I exist' is ever experienced
by everyone.  It is only when one is conscious of one's existence, all other experience becomes possible.

Bhagavan further explains the point.  'The Self is the substratum of all selves and is very obvious."
He used the analogy of the woman who had missed her necklace until her friend pointed out to her
that it was around her own neck.  The necklace had never been lost in the first place.  What had already
been there was just 'discovered' later.  Similarly, Self Realization is always there.  According to Bhagavan
all that is necessary is to get rid of the thought 'I have not realized', which arises out of our ignorance.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Self as a Gooseberry in the Palm of the Hand.
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2016, 12:18:50 PM »
We may ask at this point that, if we are already realized, how come we don't know it.  We forget
that we are ever self realized owing to the illusion caused by the notion  'I am the body'.  It is our
nagging body-consciousness (dehatma buddhi) that obfuscates our real nature, the Self, which is
the reflection of Brahman.  False identification with the body binds us and makes us say: 'It is difficult
to realize the Self.'  Just as the pure crystal covered with a colored cloth appears colored, when the concept
of body and mind is superimposed on the Self, the jiva falls into the deep pit of illusion.  It is to rescue
us from the delusion that Bhagavan repeatedly instructed us to ask ourselves, 'Who am I?'. It is to
remove our cloud of ignorance and guide us to the path of Truth, that Bhagavan constantly advised us
to practice Self Inquiry (atma vichara) and taught us the Vicharamarga.  It was Bhagavan Ramana who told
us to shift the focus from the outside world of illusion to the inner world of Reality,  the Self within,
which is Eternal (nitya siddha), is Pure Consciousness (Chit) and is liberation (mukta).

The  Eternal Truth that we are ever self-realized was first revealed to mankind by the Vedic seers and
has since been reaffirmed myriad times by seers like Sankara, Hastamalaka, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa,
and Bhagavan Ramana.  It is like the gooseberry in our palm, if only our vision is clear.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.