Sat-Darshana Bashya and Talks with Maharshi
By K



The "Talks with Sri Maharshi'' are mainly selected from conversations that D has had with him since 1912. Some of these were later incorporated into the Ramana Geeta and one or two booklets. These talks are given with a view to introduce the general reader to the main work, the philosophy of Sat-Darshan. The conversations with Sri Maharshi have been generally in Tamil, intermixed with a few English and Sanskrit words. We do not say 'you' in talking to him, nor does he refer to himself as 'I'. They are used here for the purpose of English version. The name of D is not mentioned as it is considered unnecessary for the purpose of the subject.


The Talks


Vichara not Intellectual but Inward and Subtle


D: If I go on rejecting thoughts can I call it Vichara?


M: It may be a stepping stone. But really Vichara begins when you cling to your Self and are already off the mental movement, the thought-waves.


D: Then Vichara is not intellectual?


M: No, it is Anthara vichara, inner quest.


D: That is Dhyana?


M: To stick to a position unassailed by thoughts is Abhyasa or Sadhana; you are watchful. But the condition grows intenser and deeper when your effort and all responsibilities are taken away from you; that is Aroodha, Siddhi state.


Is Brahman Beyond?


D: This seems to contradict the statements that the Self is beyond the mind, that the mind cannot know Brahman, that it is beyond thought and speech (avangmanasagochara).


M: That is why they say that the mind is two fold: there is the higher pure mind as well as the lower impure mind. The impure mind cannot know it but the pure mind knows. It does not mean that the pure mind measures the immeasurable Self, the Brahman. It means that the Self makes itself felt in the pure mind so that even when you are in the midst of thoughts you feel the Presence, you realise the truth that you are one with the deeper Self and that the thought- waves are there only on the surface.


D: That means the mano nasha or the ahamkara nasha. The destruction of the mind or of the ego you speak of is then not an absolute destruction.


M: Yes. The mind gets clear of impurities and become pure enough to reflect the truth, the real Self. This is impossible when the ego is active and assertive.


What is My Self Now?


D: I want to know what the Heart is and where it is and so forth. But I want to have this doubt cleared first. I am ignorant of my own truth, my knowledge is limited, imperfect. You say "I'' means the Self, Atman. But the Atman is said to be always self-aware whereas I am unaware ...


M: People always fall into this confusion. What you call your self now is not the real Self which is neither born nor dies.


D: Then you admit that what I call my self is the body or part of the body.


M: But the body is matter (Jada), it never knows, it is always the known.


D: Then, if I am neither the Atman, the Self nor the Anatman, the not-self....


M: I am coming to the rescue. Between spirit and matter, the self and the body, there is born something which is called the Ahamkara, the ego-self, Jeeva, the living being. Now what you call your self is this ego-self which is different from the ever-conscious Self and from unconscious matter, but which at the same time partakes of the character of both spirit and matter Chetana and Jada.


D: Then when you say "know thyself'' you want me to know the ego-self?


M: But the moment the ego-self tried to know itself, it changes its character; it begins to partake less and less of the Jada, in which it is absorbed, and more and more of the Consciousness of the Self, the Atman.


Introduction to Sat Darshana Bashya


I - On Non-Duality


Let us take the instance of a pot. When the form of the pot is perceived without the knowledge that the pot is made of clay, no one denies the truth of this form or the validity of its perception on the ground that he has no knowledge of the substance of which it is made, and thus of the true character of the pot. Similarly, we do not deny the form or its perception when we gain knowledge of the true nature of the pot, viz, that it is made of clay. Both the statements that the material of the pot is clay and that it is of a particular shape, can be truly made of the pot. The knowledge that the pot is of clay neither contradicts nor is incompatible with the knowledge that it has a particular shape. Nor does the predication that the pot has a particular form negate the substantial truth that the pot is of clay. Therefore, it has to be admitted that the truth of the thing is two-fold according to the view-point and understanding capacity of the enquiring mind. That the pot is made of clay may be termed the substantial truth of the pot and that it has a particular shape, its formal truth. Both are true and together give the whole truth of the pot.


To sum up: To know the world as it appears to my imperfect understanding is a partial knowledge which ignores the substance. A knowledge of the world of name and form without knowing its substantial reality is imperfect knowledge. Partial knowledge, as such and in itself, is only imperfect but not false. It is the mistaking of the partial truth for the whole that is false knowledge. As this partial knowledge is an imperfect understanding, too gross to penetrate to subtler truths, it is almost like ignorance. Since it moves in a futile circle, apprehending only the formal without getting at the substantial truth, and often leads to error and mischief, it is referred to by the disparaging term ajnana (ignorance). It is when Brahman, the root-substance of all existence, is realised that there is clear realisation of the whole truth that Brahman, the Self of all existence, is not different from its own formation as world- existence and soul-existence. That alone is complete knowledge, that alone is integral truth.


IV - The 'I' Sense


As the ego, which is the direct and immediate sense of 'I', is centred and figured in each of the distinct and separate individuals in a subtle movement of life-force and mind-stuff, it is termed Jeeva here. This sense of 'I' is separate in each individual being and preserving the distinctness of the individual, behaves in a manner that would strengthen the individual's distinct character. But, such a movement of the ego or the apparent self has its root and support in something that is the real basis of individuality and that does not move with or lose itself in the movement of the apparent self. a something that is a continuous conscious principle related to the past, present and future; that is the Real Self signified, the Lakshyartha, in the individual, of which the ego is the apparent self. This latter is different in different individuals and is loosely called the Jeeva Atman. But, Atman the self is really one; the self of all individuals as of all existence is one. But, Jeevas or living beings are many, as many as the individuals are formed. These are soul-formations that are dissoluble in time, unlike their supporting self which is eternal, being identical with the Infinite Eternal which maintains its many-centred existence in an endless movement of formation and dissolution.


Thus, we see that there are three distinct senses in which 'I' is used. The supreme meaning of 'I', its Paramartha, is the Purusha who becomes the Lakshyartha (the signified sense) in the individual, as it is the same self that presides over individual existence and the immediate or apparent sense of 'I' (Vachyartha) is the ego or the apparent self formed temporarily for purposes of individuation. Threefold then is the sense of the Self, the 'I' and in its threefold sense it is to be understood.


The Bashya


Verse 6:


To him who holds the self as having form
God has form and so has the world.
But who is there to see in the formless self?
Itself is the Eye - limitless, one and full.


The question is asked 'Who is there to see in the formless Self?' If the seeing self is formless who is there to see? The infinite Self is itself the Eye, one limitless and full. Here one is reminded of the Upanishad that refers to Brahman as that in which the Self has become all beings (existences).


The Self is the all; it is that which has become all this; and there is nothing for the self to see outside of itself or apart from it as it includes (lit. devours), all forms and transcends them (lit. shines forth). Here, there is no knowledge of distinction between seer and seen; hence the Upanishad describes the character of the One, the Infinite (Adwaita, Akhanda) by putting the question 'whom to see and by what?' (Tat kena kam pashyet). Here also the same question is put 'Who is there to see?' The answer is obvious; there is none. 'Why?' 'Itself is the Eye'. The Supreme Brahman is denoted by the third person 'Itself'. It is mentioned as the Eye to denote that it is Consciousness. It is 'One', without a second Infinite. It is 'limitless' or endless 'the full', the all-pervasive. If it is mentioned as 'seer' then the question may arise that there is 'the seen' apart from the seer. To avoid it, the word 'Eye' (drishti), is used in the sense of sight or awareness (consciousness) and not in the sense that there is a seer apart from the sight.


Verse 10.


For perception of the Truth, worship of the Supreme
In name and form is means indeed.
But the state of being that in natural poise of Self,
That alone is perception true.


And this is the Nishta, the settled state in the Supreme Reality, in the one Substance, support and basis of the worshiper and the worshipped, in which is realised the identity of self with Brahman. In this verse, Truth-perception is described to be the highest poise of the Self. In a subsequent verse (the 23rd), Self-perception or God-realisation is said to consist in the Jeeva or soul becoming food, i.e., object of enjoyment or experience to the Lord. So we have two descriptions of the one exalted state, Sat-darshan and Atma-darshan, Truth-perception and Self-Realisation. Similarly in the two invocatory verses commencing the work, this Supreme Brahman was described to be both Impersonal and Personal, Impersonal for purposes of Kaivalya Nishta (the sole supreme poise), and Personal for Sayujya, (conscious union of the soul with Brahman). Thus we are reminded that the two aspects are presented for the two distinct paths of knowledge and devotion, that ultimately culminate in a Supreme Realisation, which, in view of the Oneness of the being in the Jeeva as well as in the Ishwara is mentioned as Sat-darshan (Nishta) and in view of the Jeeva's relation in world-existence to Ishwara is named Atma Darshan (Sayujya).


Verse 23.


'See thyself and see the Lord.'
That is the revealed word and hard is its sense indeed.
For the seeing self is not to be seen.
How then is the sight of the Lord?
To be food unto Him, that indeed is to see Him.


The sense of authoritative utterance 'See the self and see the Lord' is difficult to grasp. For if the Self itself cannot be seen, how can the question of seeing the Lord arise? Here it is the nature of 'seeing', perception or realisation of the Self that has got to be understood. With the object of revealing its true character, the seeing of the Lord is described by an illuminating phrase as being 'food unto Him'. The seeing soul is never seen; it is always the seer, the subject never an object to be apprehended by anything other than itself. If this soul, the ego-self, the (Jeeva), the subjective being, attempts to know its Lord, its own deepest being, it automatically withdraws itself from its pre-occupations with divergent thoughts in the subjective or divergent forms in the objective existence, and finds itself drawn to something deeper than itself and once it experiences its original being, its source, to deep Self in this manner, it ceases to be cut off in consciousness from its Supreme source to which it thus becomes a food, as it were, an experience and an enjoyment.


Salutations to Sri Ramana


Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni, the foremost Sanskrit poet and scholar of his time, was universally respected for his austere and pure life, his scathing criticism of misguided usages, his profound yet liberal views regarding temples, women and the depressed classes and his uncompromising crusade against false interpretations of the Vedas and Sastras. He was loved for the simplicity of his life, his suave company and his generosity. He would not admit any one as his superior nor would he pose himself as any other's superior. He befriended the weak and the oppressed, freely mixed with the intelligentsia of the country and was always free from care or anxiety. His trust in God was unbounded and his love and respect for Sri Ramana Maharshi was remarkable.


40 Verses in Praise of Sri Ramana


35. What is the fate of the babe not suckled by the mother? Where is the escape for the sheep with whom the shepherd is enraged? Where is succour for the poor man against the wrath of God? How will these beings of poor understanding conquer misery, if you, O Master! do not relieve the refugees at your holy feet of their burden of errors and doubts?


38. O Lord Ramana! I am now far away from your holy feet when divine grace happens to play on me; yet my strong faith in the space-destroying might of your glory like the rays of the sun, keeps my mind in quiet poise in this crucial hour.


39. Good luck accumulated to the Red Mount, Arunachala, for its having sheltered numerous sages in the past, has now grown incomparable because Lord Sri Ramana Maharshi has chosen this hill among many other holy place, for his abode.


40. Sri Ramana Maharshi is an ideal held out before mankind because of his great depth of Peace, his intrepid flow of Power, his extraordinary development of dispassion, his melting love, his bright wisdom which flashes over the encircling darkness of ignorance and his beatific life.


Ganapati, the son of Narasimha, of the lineage of Vasishta has thus adored Sri Ramana Guru in forty slokas.


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