The Essence of the Ribhu Gita

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PREFACE

The Ribhu Gita forms the sixth section of the Sanskrit work known as Siva Rahasya. It is the teachings of Lord Siva in Mount Kailas to His devotee Ribhu, from whom the Gita derives its name.

The Tamil version is a free translation of the original Sanskrit text, consisting of 1,924 verses of such scintillating brilliance that Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi recommended its recital as a strong support for spiritual sadhana. He used to say that the recital itself leads to spontaneous abidance in the Self.

The book presented herewith consists of 122 verses from the original Tamil work, being a free translation into English prose, conveying the essence of the original, rather than a mere mechanical word for word translation.

Benedictory verses

To Siva

1. Salutations to the Supreme Lord Siva, the pure Awareness in the sky of consciousness in the Heart, by meditation on whom, Ganesa, Guha, Mother-Sakti who is the embodiment of Siva’s Grace, and myriads of Devas, saints and devotees have attained their cherished goals. (Chapter 1, Verse 1).

To Nataraja

2. From the sky of consciousness of the Heart springs forth the dancer Nataraja with his blissful consort Freedom, to the delectation of his devotees who are thus liberated forever. Unto that Ananda Natesa do we render our devout salutations. (Ch.1, v.2)

To Ardhanareeswara

3. Unto that Form whose left half is the Mother of all manifestation and whose right half is the Father of the same, the jingle of the gems enclosed within the hollow golden anklet of whose foot is the source of all scriptures, and whose three eyes (Fire, Sun and Moon) are the illuminants of the universe, to that Form be our devout salutations. May that divine Form ever be our protection. (Ch.1, v.3)

To Siva, Sakti, Vinayaka and Shanmukha

4. Salutations to Siva, the Lord of the universe of infinite power, to Sat-Chit-Ananda-Sakti, the Mother of the universe, to Vinayaka the dispeller of all impediments to freedom, and to Shanmukha the Sat-Guru, who dispenses to his worthy devotees the divine wisdom of Siva-Self leading to salvation. (Ch.1, v.4)

THE ESSENCE OF THE RIBHU GITA

The following verses constitute the teachings of Siva to Ribhu, who in turn transmits those teachings to his disciple Nidhaga Rishi. The treatise goes by the name Ribhu Gita.

5. The universe was neither born, nor maintained, nor dissolved; this is the plain truth. The basic screen of pure Being-Awareness-Stillness devoid of all the moving shadow pictures of name and form of the universe is the sole, eternal Existence. (Ch.2, v.33)

6. Some may argue that this universe of duality (multiple existences) is a factual second reality, clearly seen by the senses operated by the mind. But then, are the senses anything apart from the mind? Can they function without the support of the mind in which they are imbedded? What is this mind except a bundle of thoughts? What are thoughts except evanescent ripples in the still, limitless ocean of pure Being-Awareness-Self, which is the sole Existence without a second? (Ch. 2, v.34)

7. The existence of the illusion of silver in mother of pearl is not a reality apart from the reality of mother of pearl, which is the basic reality. The illusion of the universe is based on the mind, which again is an illusion based on the still Awareness-Being-Self. (Ch.2, v.35)

8. In the unitary, undifferentiated still ocean of Existence-Awareness-Self, body, senses, mind, intellect and jivas (embodied souls) are nothing but evanescent ripples not apart from that sole Self. (Ch.4, v.6)

9. The universe of name and form, the embodied creatures and their creator, mind, desire, Karma (action), misery and everything other than the Self, are merely thought formations projected by the powers of the Self on its screen — Self. (Ch.5, v.25)

10. The state of firm abidance in that thought-free alert Awareness-Self, constitutes integral perfection, yoga, wisdom, Moksha, Sahaja Samadhi, the state of Siva and the state of Atman-Self, which scriptures proclaim by the title of Brahman. (Ch.5, v.26)

11. There never was a mind nor any of its countless forms like world, jivas, etc. There isn’t the least doubt that all these are the form of the eternally undifferentiable Supreme Brahman-Self. This is the Truth. The one who hears this great secret diligently and understands completely, abides as Brahman-Self (Ch.5, v.28)

Greatness of Videha Mukta

12. With all objective knowledge banished, with no trace of thought or nescience, with all the three states of waking, dream and sleep wiped out, with all thought of death and birth abolished, and ever established in the spontaneous blissful state of Brahman-Self, the condition of the Videha Mukta cannot be conceived, and much less expressed in words. (Ch.5, v.39)

13. The continued repetition of ‘I am Self-Brahman’ constitutes the sole mantra-japa leading to Mukti (Liberation). All other mantra-japas connected with diverse gods should be firmly eschewed, as they aim at mundane objectives other than the Self. All other mantra-japas always entangle one inextricably in the bondage of worldly enjoyments. (Ch.6, v.37)

Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self Siva and His worship

14. On the eternal and infinite screen of Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self Siva, by His own power, Sakti is projected as the moving shadow picture of the universe in manifestation and into that again it is absorbed in dissolution.

All luminaries like the sun, moon, fire, stars and lightning derive their luminosity as a gracious gift from the Sakti inherent in that screen of Self-Siva only. Though bright in themselves, they can only obscure and cannot reveal the Siva-Screen which they cover up.

Out of fear of that Siva, their creator, Devas and Asuras (gods and demons) are ever alertly engaged in their ordained duties.

That Siva must be meditated upon and realised to be the Self, by making the restless mind stay still and alert after it has been adequately restrained, and completely prevented from the pursuit of sense objects, namely, the shadow pictures on the screen of the Self. All shadow pictures removed, what remains is pure Awareness, the spotlessly effulgent screen. Thus, Siva reveals Himself spontaneously as the sole eternal Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self, the very essence of the nature of the worshipper. (Ch.7, v.35)

The Jivan Mukta

15. The Jivan Mukta is a person liberated during his lifetime, who continues to have consciousness of the body and the world (as Brahman) along with his firm abidance in his Siva-Self. He ever abides in the blissful peace of Sat-Chit-Ananda. He is poised rock-firm in the conviction that he is not the body, and that his Being is the sole existence, the sole alert-awareness-bliss of Siva-Self Supreme. (Ch.8, v.1)

16. The Jivan Mukta has his consciousness completely dissolved beyond recognition in his Brahman-Self. Eternally alone in his Self, he is ever lost in the enjoyment of the bliss of his Brahman-Self. (Ch.8, v.25).

The Videha Mukta

17. The Videha Mukta [The term literally means the ‘disembodied-liberated person’] is free from the least trace of thought; he abides all alone in his effulgent pure-Awareness-. He is the matured adept, who at the moment of death, abides as the pure Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self. Figuratively the term means mature liberated being who, while still alive, abides as the pure Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self without awareness of body and the world around him. Self in intense unbroken bliss, totally oblivious of limited forms, in a state of Maha-Mounam (stillness of body, speech and mind). (Ch.9, v.1)

18. He is the pure embodiment of Sat-Chit-Ananda, all pervasive as ether, infinite as the sky, all alert with Awareness, spontaneously abiding as the perfect Brahman-Self in a state of still, unbroken, peaceful bliss. (Ch.9, v.15)

19. There is not an atom apart from the Self, which is the integral undifferentiated perfection of whole Being. Soul, world and Creator are inseparable from the Self. The reality of these is the reality of the Self only. (Ch.10, v.34)

20. All ignorance and illusion, all objects inert and living, all beings and non-beings, all the five elements, all the diverse worlds, all bodies and the lives that arise in them, not being apart from Brahman-Self, are Brahman-Self only. Existence alone is, for even non-existence acquires meaning only in Existence. Simply put, everything exists always as Brahman-Self only. (Ch.12, v.2)

21. All objective knowledge, all thought forms, all visible objects, all things heard, all questions and answers, all the food consumed and all other illusions, not being apart from the Self, should be regarded as Brahman-Self only. (Ch.13, v.2)

22. Therefore one should practise the habit of regarding everything as Brahman-Self only; until all thought of things other than the Self is lost. This condition once achieved, one should not give room for any thought and should ever abide in Maha-Mounam (peace of total stillness). (Ch.14, v.38)

23. Anything seen as other than Brahman-Self is bound to cause fear and trouble. Therefore, it behoves one to stick to the single attitude that everything sensed is Brahman-Self alone. In due course even this one thought must be given up, in order to abide firmly in the free undisturbed blissful state of the sole Brahman-Self. (Ch.15, v.5)

24. The total discarding of the mind is alone victory, achievement, bliss, yoga, wisdom and liberation. The sacrifice of the mind is, in fact, the totality of all sacred sacrifices. (Ch.15, v.7)

25. The firm denial of the existence of the mind and the firm belief in the existence of Brahman-Self, is the sure way to the conquest of mind, leading to the experience of the sole effulgent Self. (Ch.15, v.11)

26. If one gives the slightest room for the thought that the mind exists, pure Awareness itself will vibrate as the ruffled mind, which is the parent of all trouble and illusions. Therefore, one should ever abide in the conviction that there is no mind, and that the pure Awareness-Self is the sole Existence. This is the easy way to conquer the mind with all its vagaries. (Ch.15, v.12)

27. There is no such thing as the troublesome mind, no world of names and forms, not the least bit of ego. All these are nothing but the perfect Brahman-Self, which I am. In this conviction one should abide firmly, until one achieves the state of sleepless-sleep which is alert-peace-eternal. (Ch.16, v.7)

The True Samadhi

28. To hold on to the conviction born of Self-enquiry that “I am no doubt the Screen — Brahman-Self, and the world picture thereon, though evanescent, is no doubt ‘I am Self’ only”, and to abide still and blissful in that conviction is the acme of all sadhanas, like divine worship, charitable gifts, spiritual austerities, mantra-japa and samadhi as well. (Ch.16, v.41)

29. The Self alone is the spontaneous self effulgent Awareness; that alone is eternal bliss; that alone is Existence everlasting; that alone is all embracing perfection, the sole Godhead without a rival and the sole primordial stuff of the Universe. In the conviction born of this experience, one should ever abide, as the sole I AM, the Supreme Self. (Ch.17, v.29)

Sahaja Samadhi

30. Remaining alertly aware and thought-free, with a still mind devoid of differentiation of Self and non-Self even while being engaged in the activities of worldly life, is called the state of Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (the natural state of abidance in the Self when all differentiation has ceased). This is called Akhandakara vritti, the ‘I’ of infinite perfection as contrasted with the ‘I am the body’ notion of those who have not realised the Self. (Ch.18, v.40)

Maturing of Sahaja Samadhi

31. Abidance in Sahaja Samadhi is the hallmark of a Jivan Mukta. With progressive development towards this state, an intensity of blissful peace is attained, leading on to the four successive stages of perfection in samadhi. Nothing short of this Sahaja Samadhi will be of any avail in destroying the fearsome cycle of births and deaths. (Ch.18, v.41)

32. That realised person who abides in the Brahman-Self, and has lost all feelings of differentiation of self and non-self, is the Jnani or Mukta Purusha. Such a Jnani is rare to find even by searching among millions of people. If one has the lucky opportunity of getting his darshan (personal view and contact) one attains purification from all his sins, and what is more, such a person’s ego gets liquidated at once. (Ch.19, v.10)

33. Darshan of the matured Jnani constitutes the acme of purification of baths taken in sacred waters, divine worship, mantra-japa, spiritual austerities, charitable acts and devotional worship of Lord Siva Himself. To find and to gain access to the sacred presence of such a Jnani is the luckiest of opportunities that one could ever obtain in this world. (Ch.19, v.11)

34. Worshipful service rendered unto such a Jnani-SatGuru quickens one’s spiritual wisdom to attain the bliss of jivan mukti. If continued further, it bestows on the disciple even the status of videha mukti. Therefore, if one is keen on being released from bondage into the freedom of mukti, the one infallible means of achieving that aim is the loving and worshipful service of the Jnani-Sat-Guru. (Ch.19, v.13)

35. Firmly established in the Self, undisturbed by the least ripple of thought, as still as an idol of stone or wood, dissolved completely in Brahman-Self, even as water is in milk, with awareness devoid of all impurities of thought and drowsiness, standing clear as the pure sky, the grandeur of the Jnani’s nishta (firm stance in the Self) defies thought and expression. (Ch.19, v.21)

The sine qua non of Mukti is Siva’s grace

36. That in which the whole universe is born and into which it is absorbed in dissolution, is the Siva-Self. Devoted worship of and meditation on that Siva-Self of pure Consciousness alone will attract Siva’s Grace, which is indispensable for liberation. (Ch.19, v.60)

37. Those engaged in the pursuit of knowledge of the Brahman-Self, happening to get involved in the mundane pleasures of sex, should regard such pleasures as merely faint shadows of the bliss of the Self. They should never even dream of worldly pleasures. (Ch.20, v.45)

38. As the Self is Sat, meditative contact with the Self is the true Sat Sanga (association with sadhus who abide in the Self). As Brahman-Self is the highest, association with the Self is Mahat Sanga (highest association). (Ch.21, v.28)

39. The sadhaka practising meditation on the Self, should always think firmly that all diversities of soul, world and creator are the undifferentiated Brahman-Self only. By practice, his consciousness is freed from thoughts, after which he should give up the above thought also and abide always in the thought-free state of the Self (Ch.21, v.39)

40. Abidance in the state of thought-free alert Awareness, is the state of mukti beyond thought and expression. The emergence of thought is the bondage of untold suffering. Abidance in the Self is the true non-dual samadhi, and that alone leads one to the eternal bliss of mukti. (Ch.21, v.41)

41. The great illusions: maya (associated with God Iswara), avidya (associated with individual souls), mind and jivas (souls), world and its creator, all names and forms, and all mental conceptions are nothing but the Self. One should ever abide in this conviction. (Ch.22, v.23)

42. All worlds and creatures are only thought forms. They are nothing but the mind, which is a bundle of thoughts, which again are nothing more than ripples in the still ocean of Awareness-Self, and certainly nothing apart from that Self. Therefore, one should abide in the firm conviction that all objects are only I Am Self-Brahman. (Ch.22, v.24)

43. There are no such things as achieved objectives and the efforts leading to them, association with the wise or the ignorant, efforts of learning and knowledge acquired, acts of enquiry and practice, the learner or the learned, and any goals achieved. What exists is only Brahman, the effulgent Awareness-Self. (Ch.23, v.10)

44. One should be firm in the conviction that there are no charitable acts, sacred waters and kshetras (pilgrim centres), no loss or gain and no loser or gainer, no karma, bhakti and wisdom, and no knower or known. All these thought-forms are bound to be dissolved and lost in the Brahman-Self, which is the sole existence. (Ch.23, v.11)

45. The bhavana* ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’ swiftly takes one to mukti. As the continued reading of the texts generating that bhavana, takes the aspirant unerringly to the goal, he should always dwell on the written words dealing with the Brahman-Self. (Ch.24, v.27)

46. The illusion that one is the body and that the world is the basic reality has remained soaked over a long, long time, and cannot be got rid of by the casual reading and mere understanding of the truth. The basic illusion can be effaced only by a long and unremitting practice of the bhavana that all this is ‘I-am-Brahman-Self’. (Ch.24, v.28)

47. Everything is only a concoction of time, space and energy. All else is the trite talk of people who dislike the effort of sadhana which takes them to the Self. This talk is based on their dense ignorance of the Self. Only by persistent practice and experience of sadhana, can one arrive at the truth that all concepts of souls, world, and the cause thereof are just evanescent shadows on the screen of Siva-Self-Brahman. (Ch.24, v.31)

48. There is never such a thing as conception of names and forms, no such thing as the conceiving mind, no such thing as a person lost in samsara, and no such things as the world and its creator. Everything that is seen to exist must be realised to be no other than the sole, pure Awareness-Being-Brahman-Self. (Ch.25, v.8)

Everything is Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self only

49. Whatever is found to exist is Sat (Existence) only. Whatever is pleasurable is Ananda (Bliss) only. One should ever abide in the bedrock bhavana of Sat-Chit-Ananda. Never for once should one slip, even inadvertently, into the disastrous bhavana that one is the body and that the world is real. (Ch.25, v.12)

50. One should abide in the rock-firm bhavana that ‘Everything is only Brahman-Self and I am that Brahman-Self’. By this bhavana all thought movements and nescience will disappear, resulting in the eternal abidance in the sole Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self. (Ch.25, v.14)

Verses 51 to 60 herein deal with practice of ‘Abedha Nishta or Atma Nishta’ — non-dual state or abidance in the Self

51.By abiding in the Self, the wandering mind is reduced to perfect stillness after being freed from all nescience and thought currents. It gets lost in the Sat-Chit-Ananda-Self in the same way that water is lost when mixed with milk. This unitary state of abidance in the Self is called Atma Nishta by the wise who have attained perfection. (Ch.26, v.2)

‘Sahaja Nishta’ or The Natural State

52. Having realised that the world picture on the screen-Self is evanescent and essentially non-existent, one should ever remain still and blissful in the firm conviction of ever being the sole Brahman-Self only. This conviction should be maintained even while functioning as an individual in the world of name and form. This matured state of abidance in the Self is called Sahaja Nishta (the Natural State). (Ch.26, v.3)

53. In that blissful Self wherein there is no action of body, speech and mind, no virtuous or sinful karma (action) and the fruits thereof, one should remain still, eschewing the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.7)

54. In that Self wherein there is neither conceiver nor conception of the world of names and forms, one should remain blissfully still, eschewing the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.8)

55. In that Self wherein desire, anger, covetousness, confusion, bigotry and envy are all absent; in that Self wherein there is no thought of bondage or release, one should abide blissfully still, eschewing the least ripple of thought. (Ch.26, v.13)

56. Firmly abiding in the Self one acquires the totality of all knowledge and achieves the successful completion of all endeavours and duties. In that state one should abide blissful and still, eschewing the least ripple of thought. (Ch.26, v.25).

57. Mind merged completely in the Self, one becomes a lord without rival-steeped in bliss beyond compare. In that state one should abide still, free from the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.28)

58. I am that Self which is integral existence-awareness-bliss, the sole impartite Brahman-Self. Firm in the conviction born of this experience, one should abide still, free from the least trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.29)

59. In the conviction that ‘I am the Self’ in which no thought, ego, desire, mind or confusion can exist one should abide still, free from trace of thought. (Ch.26, v.31)

60. The firm faith of being the Self is sufficient to dispel all thought and establish one in Brahman-Self. In due course of this practice, even the thought involved in that faith fades away leading to the spontaneous effulgence of the Self. If a person hearkens to this teaching and practises the faith, even if he is a great sinner, he is washed clean of all his sins and is established in Brahman-Self. (Ch.26, v.42)

61. There is certainly no such thing as mind with its constituents of thought and thought forms of objects. In this conviction one should ever abide still and at peace, in the state of thought-free alert Awareness-Self which endures after all sadhanas and its rigours have exhausted themselves in Brahman-Self. (Ch.27, v.29)

62. Having gained the experience that there is no creator, no maya, no duality, and no objects at all, and that pure Awareness-Self alone exists, one should ever remain still and peaceful in that state of Selfhood. (Ch.27, v.34)

63. If a person gives heed to these teachings he would certainly gain the grace of Lord Siva and attain the state of Selfhood even though he is immersed in the dense darkness of nescience which could not be banished by the glare of a million suns. (Ch.27, v.43)

64. Why waste words? This is the truth in a nutshell. Only those who have earned the Grace of our Lord Siva by long devotional worship will get the rare opportunity of reading this scriptural text which leads to the bliss of peace everlasting in Brahman-Self. (Ch.27, v.44)

65. Only that Jnani who teaches ‘Thou art the thoughtfree, alertly aware, absolutely still, ever blissful, intensely peaceful, unqualified Brahman-Self’, is the true Sat Guru, and others are not. (Ch.28, v.28)

66. Unbroken abidance in the state of alert awareness, unruffled by thoughts, is Self-realization. That is at once the spotless jivan mukti and the magnificent videha mukti. This state is easily attainable only for those who have earned the divine Grace of Siva by deep devotion to Him, and not for others. What is stated here is the import in a nutshell of the message of that charming crest jewel of the Vedas known as the Upanishads. (Ch.29, v.37)

67. Those who give heed to this message and abide in accordance with it will forthwith attain mukti (liberation). They will not suffer from the least particle of affliction; they will enjoy a bliss far greater than the bliss attained from this and all other worlds; they and their environments will be filled with the plenitude of auspicious events. Totally free from all trace of fear, they will never again enter the cycle of births and deaths. They will become the immutable Brahman-Self. All this we swear is the truth beyond doubt. By our Lord Siva, again and again we swear that this is the fundamental truth. (Ch.29, v.40)

68. That state of still, pure, effulgent awareness is moksha, the state beyond compare. Those who maintain an unbroken abidance in that supreme state will never more be touched by suffering or confusion, and will be absolved from all duties. Such duties if any will somehow be completed without any volition on their part. They will eternally abide as the sole supreme Self. (Ch.30, v.31)

In all the 13 verses of Chapter 32, the term bhavana is to be understood as faith or firm belief in ‘Aham Brahmam’ (I am the Self)

69. By the persistent and continued bhavana of ‘I am the Brahman-Self’ all thoughts and feelings of differentiation of Self and non-Self will drop off and permanent abidance in Brahman-Self will be achieved. This bhavana is possible only for those with a keen inquiring mind intent on knowing the Self and not for those who are indifferent about Self-knowledge. (Ch.32, v.18)

70. Ignorance and indifference in regard to the enquiry of the truth about one-self is the store house of nescience and trouble, blocking the view of the Self, and creating in a split second all sorts of illusions and harassment of mental worry. Non-enquiry renders bhavana impossible. (Ch.32, v.19)

71. In short, non-enquiry will steep one for ever in the ocean of samsara (earthly suffering). There is no greater enemy for one than non-enquiry. Therefore, this habit must be overcome in order to fix the mind in the bhavana which leads to abidance in the Self. (Ch.32, v.20)

72. Enquiry should be made this wise: With the kind help of the Sat Guru one should enquire ‘Who am I? what is this world? what is the reality behind all these?’ (Ch.32, v.21)

73. Staying in the company of sadhus (those engaged in the pursuit and enjoyment of the bliss of the Sat-Self) and respectfully questioning the Sat-Guru-Jnani, one should first make oneself clear about the objective to be obtained. This is an important aspect of the enquiry. After thus making sure of the objective, one must firmly abide in that objective of sole Brahman-Self until the Self is unmistakably experienced. (Ch.32, v.22)

74. The conscious introspective concentration of Self enquiry (‘Who am I’?) kills all thoughts and destroys the dense darkness of nescience; it effaces all worry; it illuminates the intellect with the radiance of pure awareness; it wipes out all conceptual confusions; it fixes one in Siva-Self; it transforms a host of impending disasters into auspicious events; and lastly, it destroys the ego-mind utterly with all its afflictions. (Ch.32, v.24)

75. Only by those strong willed persons who make earnest and persistent Self-enquiry will the turbulent mind be controlled and fixed still in the practice of firm bhavana. In due course all thoughts and nescience will disappear, yielding place to the effulgent Awareness-Self of mukti. (Ch.32, v.26)

76. One should relentlessly pursue Self-enquiry until all conceptual forms of creature, world and creator merge and disappear in the pure thought-free, alert Awareness-Self, enabling one to abide in that bhavana of the experience, ‘I am the Brahman-Self’. (Ch.32, v.27)

77. It is only the mind which appear as the world and bondage; there is no world other than the mind. On enquiry this mind turns out to be nothing more than a group of ripples (thoughts) in the still ocean of pure Awareness-Siva-Self. I am that Siva-Self only and there is nothing apart from me, one should ever abide in the conviction born of this experience. (Ch.32, v.33)

78. There is no world apart from the mind. What appears as the world is only the mind. If this mind is investigated, it turns out to be nothing more than a bundle of thoughts based on the primary thought of ‘I am the body’ called the ego. If this ego — I is enquired into and its identity searched, it gets swallowed up without a trace in the pure Awareness-Being-Siva-Self. One should maintain this firm bhavana ‘I am Self-Siva’ until that state of being the Siva-Self — becomes the spontaneous experience free from the effort of bhavana. (Ch.32, v.34)

79. In me, the pure Awareness-Self, the universe is born, maintained and dissolved as the mind. Therefore, there are no mind and thought forms of objects apart from me the Self. In this firm experience one should ever abide. (Ch.32, v.35)

80. One should ever abide as pure Siva-Self by the firm experience that there are no thought forms of creature, world and creator apart from the mind which is just an array of ripples in me the still ocean of pure Awareness-Self and therefore I am the sole Being Siva-Self only. (Ch.32, v.36)

81. Even as the world, seen in my dream, is not apart from me but only my creation, even so, the world of the waking state is only a creation made by me and seen by me in the medium of my pure Awareness-Self. In this experience one should firmly abide. (Ch.32, v.37)

82. The rock-firm conviction of ‘I am the Self ‘ is the sure mark of firm abidance in the Self. Abidance in that conviction under all conditions is, true divine worship, meditation on God, incantation of mantras, practice of right conduct in life, contemplation, integral yoga, wisdom of the Self and moksha as well. (Ch.33, v.16)

83. Whatever appears as maya, creator, creature, mind, world, names and forms are the pure Brahman-Self only and not apart from that Self. (Ch.34, v.15)

84. Steady abidance in the rock-firm conviction born of the experience of ‘I am the Self’, is the greatest yoga, total dissolution of the mind, true renunciation, true wisdom, and jivan mukti as well. (Ch.34, v.46)

85. Whatever names and forms are seen by me in my dream are not anything apart from me. Even so, this world seen by me in my waking state is not anything apart from me, the Awareness-Self that I am. The wise one should give up all differentiation of Self and non-Self, and abide as pure Self only. (Ch.35, v.23)

86. If this world of the waking state is not evanescent in its nature, whatever is seen in the waking state must be seen during sleep also. Since I as pure Self exist alone and always, there is no room for thought of non-Self-world. I-Self-Brahman is the sole Existence. (Ch.35, v.24)

87. No world exists during the absence of the mind, and there is no mind apart from my awareness. So, mind and world are nothing apart from the Self, and I am ever that sole Existence-Awareness-Brahman-Self. The wise one should abolish all thought of differentiation of self and non-Self. (Ch.35, v.25)

88. I see neither mind nor world during my sleep. In my dream there is mind with its creation, the dream world. The dream world is falsified in my waking state. But I-Self exist always. Arguing thus, one must give up all differentiation of self and non-Self, and ever abide firmly as the thought-free alert Awareness-Self-Brahman. (Ch.35, v.26)

89. All diversities of world, mind, maya (confusing power of Brahman), wakefulness, dream, sleep, talk of you and me are evanescent, and yet, not apart from the Self. Thus wise one should give up all thought of Self and non-Self and abide as Self only. (Ch.35, v.27)

90. In dim light the illusion of a serpent is seen in a rope, and this serpent is nothing but the rope. Even so all illusion of non-Self exists in the Self only. Thus wise one should give up all thought of Self and non-Self and ever abide firmly in the peace of the Self. (Ch.35, v.28)

91. In the wisdom of integral experience, I am the nondual, transcendental, motionless, peaceful, bondagefreedom-notion-free, sky of pure consciousness only. With this experience one should reject all differentiation of Self and non-Self and ever abide firmly in the peace of Brahman-Self. (Ch.35, v.33)

92. One should give up all hatha yogic practices like breath control, all religious dogmas and their diverse sadhanas 19 and be ever satisfied in simple abidance as the Self only. (Ch.35, v.38)

93. Only those who contemplate on Lord Siva-Self, the pure supporting screen of all manifestation, gain the pure experience of sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi. Apart from this devotion to Lord Siva (the Pure-Alert-Awareness-Self ) there are no other means leading to liberation. (Ch.35, v.44)

94. The non-dual sole being existing in deep sleep conjures up a world in the dream state. Even so, the shadow world conjured up in the waking state is the work of the power, inherent in one’s own Brahman-Self. Abiding firmly in the experience of pure Brahman-Self, one finds that the mind and all its confabulations are lost forever. (Ch.36, v.25)

95. One should remain firm in the conviction ‘I am the Self’ and reject all thoughts like ‘I am this body’ and ‘This world is real’. If one maintains this habit unremittingly, this false belief will drop away even as a flower held in the hand slips away when one falls into deep slumber. (Ch.37, v.33)

96. One is solely responsible for one’s own liberation or bondage, since the choice of destroying the restless mind or allowing it to roam at large rests with that one only. Therefore, one should conquer the restless mind by steady abidance in the pure thought-free Alert-Awareness-Self only. This steady abidance is moksha. (Ch.38, v.7)

97. You are the sole supreme Godhead, the Self. There is nothing apart from you. This, we declare to be the ultimate truth after a complete analysis of all the scriptures. By the holy feet of Siva, we swear this to be the truth beyond all doubt. By the feet of the Sat Guru, we swear again that this is the truth declared by the Upanishads. (Ch.38, v.9)

98. All charitable gifts, all pilgrimages to sacred places, all sorts of mantra-japa and worship of diverse gods must be firmly given up in favour of steady practice of the teachings of this book only. (Ch.38, v.24)

99. All yogic practices, all philosophic pursuits, all devotional exercises, and all faiths and beliefs should be abandoned. One should confine oneself to practice of the teachings of this book only. (Ch.38, v.25)

100. By the sole practice of the teachings of this book, all confusion and ignorance will be destroyed. Firm abidance in the Self will be the positive result. With the fusion of the wisdom and peaceful bliss in the Self, mukti will be attained. (Ch.38, v.29)

101. Only when all sins are washed off by the practice of virtues running through many lives, one gets the rare opportunity of securing this treatise and practising its tenets. By the feet of Lord Siva we declare that only those whose cycle of births and deaths has come to an end with this life will ever get this treatise in their hands and practise its teachings. (Ch.38, v.40)

Verses 102 to 121

These 20 verses contain the declarations of the disciple Nidaga before his teacher Ribhu, expressing the spiritual achievements secured by him by the grace of his teacher, and expressions of his gratitude to his teacher, Ribhu.

102. O My Lord Sat Guru! By thy grace I have, in a split second, shed all sense of differentiation of Self and non-Self; I have attained the certainty that all is Brahman and I am that Brahman-Self; I have become settled in the eternal bliss of Brahman-Self. (Ch.39, v.7)

103. I am verily the Sat-Chit-Ananda-Brahman-Self. I am the eternal undisturbed peace devoid of name and form. I am the flawless integral whole of all existence. Firmly I am settled in my sole Brahman-Self. (Ch.40, v.10)

104. Oh! I have become Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Mahesa, Sadasiva, Parameswara and his spouse Parvati, Vinayaka, Subrahmanya, cohorts of sides hosts (Siva ganas) and devotees of Lord Siva, all rolled into one! (Ch.41, v.-15)

105. I am myself all the devas (celestials beings) and asuras (denizens of the nether world), Indra the Chief of the devas, the Lord of the eight cardinal directions, the community of sages, the swarm of rakshasas (demons), and in fact, the denizens of this and all other worlds. (Ch.41, v.16)

106. I have become the five elements, multitudinous worlds scattered in the skies, all existing things and their histories, all the Vedas, and all the diversities of name and form. (Ch.41, v.17)

107. At one stroke I have become the bodies, senses, and souls owning them, the mind, intellect, intuition, ego, the primal nescience and the restless commotion of spirit, and in short all that is seen and known. (Ch.41, v.19)

108. That gracious person who gives these teachings is no doubt the embodiment of Lord Parameswara, His Devi Parvati, Vinayaka and God Shanmukha all rolled into one. (Ch.4, v.5)

109. He is again, Nandikeswara, Dattatreya, Dakshinamurti, and in short, the Supreme Lord Siva Himself (Ch.42, v.6)

110. After being duly initiated into these teachings by the Sat Guru, the disciple must, as long as life lasts in him, provide his teacher liberally with money, food, clothing and shelter and loving devotion. This is the sine qua non for the disciple’s mukti. (Ch.43, v.11)

111. Further, he should adorn his forehead and body with vibhuti (sacred ash) in the prescribed manner, as this use of vibhuti alone will entitle him to Lord Siva’s grace which removes all impediments to salvation. (Ch.43 v.12)

112. The habitual smearing of the body with vibhuti is called pasupatha vratham (austerity in devotion to Siva). This practice quickens the attainment of Self-knowledge. O Lord Sat Guru! By this practice I earned the merit for arriving at thy holy feet which have led me to salvation. (Ch.43, v.13)

113. I am ever the eternal, pure, all knowing, free, unshakeable, non-dual, integral Self. This is the firm conviction of the experience of the jivan mukta in the Self. (Ch.43, v.28)

114. That mature Jnani who is lost in the maha mounam (total stillness) of the pure effulgent Awareness-Brahman-Self, devoid of the least trace of nescience, totally devoid of all consciousness of the body and its three states of waking, dream and sleep, devoid of all distinctions of name and form and devoid of any thought of bondage or freedom is a videha mukta. (Ch.43, v.29)

115. Thou hast, O Lord Sat Guru, taken me across the boundless ocean of samsara in the boat of Self-knowledge. To me, floundering in the misery of the belief that ‘I am the body’ thou hast taught that ‘I am the Brahman-Self’ and vouchsafed to me the bliss of all embracing Awareness-Being. To thee, I render these devout salutations. (Ch.44, v.16)

116. Salutations to thee, my Lord Sat Guru! Thou hast destroyed my illusion that I am the body and that the world is apart from me and is real. Thou hast given me the experience of my own Brahman-Self. Thou hast destroyed my wrong belief that karma (action) is the road to salvation, and showing that knowledge alone could make one free. Thou hast given me my salvation in the Self (Ch.44, v.17)

117. To that divine Grace-embodied, to that Omnipresence beyond compare, to that Siva-Self Sat Guru, I render devout salutation. (Ch.44, v.18)

118. To that Sat Guru who is the core of my Self, who destroyed my nescience by the gift of Awareness-Self, to that embodiment of Self-knowledge, do I offer these salutations. (Ch.44, v.19)

119. Salutations to the Sat Guru who is the embodiment of undisturbed peace, without attributes, eternal purity, all 23 pervasive infinite sky of consciousness and integral perfection (Ch.44, v.20)

Note:-The following verses 120 and 121 contain Ribhu’s exhortation to Nidaga.

120. In reply to the words of Nidaga, Ribhu replies thus: O my son! You are now no doubt firmly settled in the bliss of Brahman-Self, having been freed from all illusion and nescience. All the same, as abundant precaution, until you attain videha mukti you must assiduously practise continued abidance in the Self. (Ch.44, v.22)

121. Aspirants of Self-knowledge will find their success accelerated by practical bodily worship of Siva. Living in a Siva kshetra (neighbourhood of Siva Temple) they should offer worship to Siva Maha Lingam, wearing the sacred vibhuthi and rudraksha (garland of a specified sort of beads), and repeating the name of Siva with loving devotion. (Ch.44, v.39)

122. Benedictory Verse offering salutations to Siva-Self.

Salutations to Sat-Chit-Ananda-Siva-Self!
Salutations to that Peace undisturbed, the Self!
Salutations to that integral Perfection, the Self!
Salutations to that Effulgent-Awareness, the Self!
Salutations to that blemish-free Self without attributes!
Salutations to that indivisible Unity, the Self!
Salutations to that pure sky of consciousness, the Self!
Salutations to that supreme integral Existence, the Self!
(Ch.44, v.51)

 

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The path to Liberation – Sublime Teachings from the Yoga Vasistha

Behold the wondrous teachings of the Yoga Vasistha, one of the pre-eminent texts of Advaita (non-duality). Usually it is an incarnation of God that teaches mere mortals in such scriptures, but here we have a rare and sublime teaching in which a Sage is teaching God! In this case the young Lord Rama, incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is being taught the eternal teaching by the Holy Sage Vasistha.

The following teachings are taken from Chapter 3 of the Yoga Vasistha, where Sage Vasistha tells the Story of Lavana. After he has told the story to Lord Rama, he gives  the following teachings.

Note that the headings in bold are my own additions, and I have also put some text in bold type for emphasis of what I thought were some key points.

With love and well wishes

Tom

Rama Vasistha yoga

Turn away from the senses (Dispassion or Vairagya)

He who does not allow his mind to roam in objects of pleasure is able to master it. Even as one who is bound to a pillar does not move, the mind of a noble man does not move from the reality: he alone is a human being, the others are worms. He attains to the supreme being by constant meditation.

Victory over this goblin known as mind is gained when, with the aid of one’s own self-effort, one attains self-knowledge and abandons the craving for what the mind desires as pleasure. This can easily be achieved without any effort at all (even as a child’s attention can be easily diverted) by the cultivation of the proper attitude. Woe unto him who is unable to give up cravings, for this is the sole means to one’s ultimate good. By intense self-effort it is possible to gain victory over the mind; then without the least effort the individualised consciousness is absorbed in infinite consciousness, when its individuality is broken through. This is easy and is easily accomplished: they who are unable to do this are indeed vultures in human form.

Let the mind become still

Abandon your reliance on fate or gods created by dull witted people, and by self-effort and self-knowledge make the mind no-mind. Let the infinite consciousness swallow, as it were, the finite mind, and then go beyond everything. With your intelligence united with the supreme, hold on to the self, which is imperishable.

When the mind is thus conquered by remaining completely unagitated, you will consider even the conquest of the three worlds worthless. This does not involve studying the scriptures, or rising or falling – nothing but self-knowledge. Why do you consider it difficult? If this is found difficult by someone, how does he even live in this world without self-knowledge?

Self-Knowledge

One who knows the deathless nature of the self is not afraid of death. Nor is he affected by separation from friends and relations. The feelings ‘This is I’ and ‘This is mine’ are the mind; when they are removed, the mind ceases to be. Then one becomes fearless. Weapons like swords generate fear; the weapon (wisdom) that destroys egotism generates fearlessness.

Mind and Liberation defined

Towards whichever object the mind flows with intensity, in that it sees the fulfilment of its craving. Of course, there is no mind without restlessness; restlessness is the very nature of the mind. It is the work of this restlessness of the mind based on the infinite consciousness that appears as this world, O Rama, that indeed is the power of the mind. But, when the mind is deprived of its restlessness, it is referred to as the dead mind; and that itself is penance (tapas) as also the verification of the scriptures and liberation.

O Rama, mind constantly swings like a pendulum between the reality and the appearance, between consciousness and inertness. When the mind contemplates the inert objects for a considerable time, it assumes the characteristics of such inertness. When the same mind is devoted to inquiry and wisdom, it shakes off all conditioning and returns to its original nature as pure consciousness.

The psychological tendency (or mental disposition or mental conditioning) is unreal, yet it does arise in the mind. The product of ignorance is real only to the ignorant person; to the wise, it is just a verbal expression (just as one speaks of the barren woman’s son). Do not remain ignorant, O Rama, but strive to be wise by renouncing mental conditioning.

Non-doership

You are not the doer of any action here, O Rama, so why do you assume doership? When one alone exists, who does what and how? Do not become inactive, either, for what is gained by doing nothing? What has to be done has to be done. Therefore rest in the self. Even while doing all the actions natural to you if you are unattached to those actions you are truly the non-doer; if you are doing nothing and are attached to that non-doership (then you are doing nothing) you become the doer! When all this world is like the juggler’s trick, what is to be given up and what is to be sought?

The trickery of Ignorance/Mind

The seed of this world appearance is ignorance. This ignorance or mental conditioning is acquired by man effortlessly and it seems to promote pleasure, but in truth it is the giver of grief. It creates a delusion of pleasure only by the total veiling of self-knowledge. Thus it was able to make the king Lavana experience less than an hour as if it were of several years’ duration.

This ignorance or mental conditioning has but a momentary existence, yet since it flows on, it seems to be permanent like a river. Because it is able to veil the reality, it seems to be real, but when you try to grasp it, you discover it is nothing. Yet, again, it acquires strength and firmness on account of these qualities in the world-appearance, even as a flimsy fibre when rolled into a rope acquires great strength. This conditioning seems to grow, but in fact it does not. For when you try to grasp it, it vanishes like the tip of a flame. Yet, again, even as the sky appears to be blue, this conditioning also seems to have some kind of real appearance! It is born as the second moon in diplopia, it exists like the dream-objects and it creates confusion, even as people sitting in a moving boat see the shore moving. When it is active, it creates a delusion of the long dream of world-appearance. It perverts all relationships and experiences. It is this ignorance or mental conditioning throws up an endless stream of creation and perception of duality, and of division and the consequent confusion of perception and experience.

Overcoming Ignorance

When this ignorance or mental conditioning is mastered by becoming aware of its unreality, mind ceases to be – even as when the water ceases to flow, the river dries up.

O Rama, even as darkness disappears as you turn towards light, ignorance disappears if you turn towards the light of the self. As long as there does not arise a natural yearning for self-knowledge, so long ignorance or mental conditioning throws up an endless stream of world-appearance. Even as a shadow vanishes when it turns to see the light, this ignorance perishes when it turns towards self-knowledge.

The Self

O Rama, from Brahma the creator down to the blade of grass, all this is nothing but the self; ignorance is non-existent unreality. There is no second thing here known as the mind. In that self itself, the veil (that is also of itself) floats, creating the polarisation of subject – object; and infinite consciousness itself is then known as the mind. This veil is an idea, an intention or a thought in that infinite consciousness. Mind is born of this idea or thought, and mind has to vanish with the help of an idea or thought i.e., by the coming to an end of the idea or thought.

‘All is Brahman’

The firm conviction that ‘I am not the absolute Brahman’ binds the mind; the mind is liberated by the firm conviction ‘everything is the absolute Brahman’. Ideas and thoughts are bondage, and their coming to an end is liberation. Therefore, be free of them and do whatever has to be done spontaneously. Even as thought or idea ‘sees’ blueness in the sky, the mind sees the world as real.

He who does not let his mind dwell on such thoughts and ideas, by striving to be conscious of the self, enjoys peace. That which was not in the beginning does not exist even now! That which was and therefore is now, is the absolute Brahman – contemplation of this bestows peace, for that Brahman is peace. One should not contemplate anything else at any time and in any manner anywhere. One should uproot the very hope of enjoyment with one’s utmost strength, and using one’s utmost intelligence. Hopes and attachments seem to ramify on account of mental conditioning, which is ignorance. In this empty physical body, where is it that is called ‘I’? In truth, O Rama, ‘I’, ‘mine’, etc. have no existence at all; the one self alone is the truth at all times.

Why does illusion appear so real?

Is it not a great wonder, O Rama, that people forget the truth that the absolute Brahman alone is, and are convinced of the existence of the unreal and non-existent ignorance? Rama, do not let the foolish idea of the existence of ignorance take root in you; for if the consciousness is thus polluted, it invites endless suffering. Though it is unreal, it can cause real suffering! It is on account of ignorance that illusions like a mirage exist, and that one sees various visions and hallucinations (like flying in the air and flying in space) and one experiences heaven and hell. Therefore, O Rama, give up mental conditioning which alone is responsible for the perception of duality, and remain totally unconditioned. Then, you will attain incomparable preeminence over all!

Rama asked: Holy sage! It is indeed incredible that this nonexistent nescience creates such an illusion that this non-existent world appears to be very real: pray explain to me further how this is possible…

Vasistha: O Rama, it is not really true that consciousness is in any way related to this body. The body has only been fancied by the consciousness as if in a dream. When consciousness, clothed as it were, by its own energy, limits itself and considers itself jiva, that jiva, endowed with this restless energy, is involved in this world-appearance.

The embodied being who enjoys or suffers the fruits of past actions and who dons a variety of bodies is known as egotism, mind and also jiva. Neither the body nor the enlightened being undergoes suffering: it is only the ignorant mind that suffers. It is only in a state of ignorance (like sleep) that the mind dreams of the world-appearance, not when it is awake or enlightened. Hence the embodied being that undergoes suffering here is variously known as the mind, ignorance, jiva and mental conditioning, as also the individualised consciousness.

The body is inert and hence can neither enjoy nor suffer. Nescience gives rise to heedlessness and unwisdom; hence it is nescience alone that enjoys or suffers. It is indeed the mind alone that is born, weeps, kills, goes, abuses others, etc., not the body. In all the experiences of happiness and unhappiness, as also in all the hallucinations and imaginations, it is mind that does everything and it is mind that experiences all this: mind is man.

The seven steps to perfection

Vasistha: Equipped with wisdom, he who gradually ascends the seven steps to perfection in yoga attains liberation from these.

Rama: Holy sir, what are the seven steps you have referred to?

Vasistha: O Rama, there are seven descending steps of ignorance, and there are seven ascending steps of wisdom. I shall now describe them to you. To remain established in self-knowledge is liberation; when this is disturbed, there arise egotism and bondage. The state of self-knowledge is that in which there is no mental agitation, neither distraction nor dullness of mind, neither egotism nor perception of diversity.

The delusion that veils this self-knowledge is sevenfold: seed state of wakefulness, wakefulness, great wakefulness, wakeful dream, dream, dream wakefulness and sleep. In pure consciousness, when mind and jiva exist only in name, it is the seed state of wakefulness. When notions of ‘I’ and ‘this’ arise, it is known as wakefulness. When these notions get strengthened by the memory of previous incarnations, it is great wakefulness. When the mind is fully awake to its own fancies and is filled with them, it is wakeful dream. The false notions of experiences during sleep, which yet appear to be real, are dreams. In the dream wakeful state one recalls past experiences as if they are real now. When these are abandoned in favour of total inert dullness, it is sleep. These seven have their own innumerable subdivisions.

I shall now describe to you, O Rama, the seven states or planes of wisdom. Knowing them you will not be caught in delusion. Pure wish or intention is the first, inquiry is the second, the third is when the mind becomes subtle, establishment in truth is the fourth, total freedom from attachment or bondage is the fifth, the sixth is cessation of objectivity, and the seventh is beyond all these.

Why do I continue to be a fool? I shall seek holy men and scriptures, having cultivated dispassion’ – such a wish is the first state. Thereupon one engages in the practice of inquiry (direct observation). With all these, there arises non-attachment, and the mind becomes subtle and transparent: this is the third state. When these three are practised, there arises in the seeker a natural turning away from sense-pleasures and there is natural dwelling in truth: this is the fourth state.

When all these are well practised, there is total non-attachment and at the same time a conviction in the nature of truth: this is the fifth state. Then one rejoices in one’s own self, the perception of duality and diversity both within oneself and outside oneself ceases, and the efforts that one made at the inspiration of others bear fruition in direct spiritual experience.

After this there is no other support, no division, no diversity, and self-knowledge is spontaneous, natural and therefore unbroken: this is the seventh, transcendental state. This is the state of one who is liberated while living here. Beyond this is the state of one who has transcended even the body (turiyatita).

Rama, all these great ones who ascend these seven planes of wisdom are holy men. They are liberated and they do not fall into the mire of happiness and unhappiness. They mayor may not work or be active. They rejoice in the self and do not stand in need of others to make them happy.

The highest state of consciousness can be attained by all, even by animals and by primitive men, by those who have a body and even by disembodied beings, for it involves only the rise of wisdom.

They who have reached the highest planes of consciousness are indeed great men. They are adorable; even an emperor is like a worthless blade of grass compared to them, for they are liberated here and now.

How can ignorance and egotism arise in the self?

Vasistha: The self ignorantly imagines an egotistic existence, even as if gold, forgetting its goldness, might think it is a ring and weep and wail “Alas, I have lost my goldness”.

Rama: Holy sir, how can this ignorance and egotism arise in the self?

Vasistha: Rama, one should ask questions concerning the reality only, not concerning the unreal. Neither goldless ringness nor limited egotism exists in truth. When the goldsmith sells the ring, he weighs out the gold, for it is gold. If one were to discuss the existence of the ringness in the ring, and the finite form in the infinite consciousness, then one has to compare it with the barren woman’s son. The existence of the unreal is unreal: it arises in ignorance and vanishes when inquired into. In ignorance one sees silver in the mother-of-pearl, but it cannot serve as silver even for a moment! As long as the truth that it is mother-of-pearl is not seen, the ignorance lasts. Even as one cannot extract oil from sand and even as one can obtain only gold from the ring, there are no two things here in this universe: the one infinite consciousness alone shines in all names and forms.

Egotism or ignorance/nescience does not really exist

Such indeed is the nature of this utter ignorance, this delusion and this world-process: without real existence there is this illusory notion of egotism. This egotism does not exist in the infinite self. In the infinite self there is no creator, no creation, no worlds, no heaven, no humans, no demons, no bodies, no elements, no time, no existence and no destruction, no ‘you’, no ‘I’, no self, no that, no truth, no falsehood (none of these), no notion of diversity, no contemplation and no enjoyment.

Whatever is, and is known as the universe, is that supreme peace. There is no beginning, no middle and no end: all is all at all times, beyond the comprehension of the mind and speech. There is no creation. The infinite has never abandoned its infinity. That has never become this.

It is like the ocean, but without ocean’s movement. It is self-luminous like the sun, but without activity. In ignorance, the supreme being is viewed as the object, as the world. Even as space exists in space, one with space, even so what appears to be the creation is Brahman existing in Brahman, as Brahman. The notions of far and near, of diversity, of here and there are as valid as the distance between two objects in a mirror in which a whole city is reflected.

O Rama, all this is ignorance! The notions of far and near, a moment and eternity, are all hallucinations. In ignorance the real appears to be unreal, and the unreal seems to be real. The individualised consciousness perceives what it thinks it perceives, on account of its conditioning.

On account of ignorance, when the notion of egotism arises, at that very moment the delusion of a beginning, a middle and an end also arises. One who is thus deluded thinks that he is an animal and experiences this. All this happens on account of accidental coincidence: just as a crow flies towards a coconut palm and as it alights on the tree, a fruit falls down as if the crow dislodged it – though, in fact, the crow did not! Similarly, by pure coincidence and in ignorance, the unreal seems to be real…

Nescience is not a real entity, even as oil in sand is not a real entity. Nescience and the self cannot have any relationship, for there can be relationship only between same or similar entities – this is obvious in everyone’s experience. Thus, it is only because consciousness is infinite that everything in the universe becomes knowable. It is not as if the subject illumines the object, which has no luminosity of its own, but since consciousness is all this, everything is self-luminous,without requiring a perceiving intelligence. It is by the action of consciousness becoming aware of itself that intelligence manifests itself, not when consciousness apprehends an inert object.

It is not correct to say that there is a mixture in this universe of the sentient and the inert, for they do not mix. All things are full of consciousness and when this consciousness comprehends itself there is knowledge.

Relationship between things

One may see a relationship between a tree and a rock, though they appear to be inert: such relationship exists in their fundamental constituents which have undergone a certain kind of change to become a tree and a rock. This is also seen in the sense of taste: the taste-buds in the tongue respond to the taste in the food, because of their similarity in constitution.

All relationship is therefore the realisation of the already existing unity: it is regarded as relationship only because of the previous false and deluded assumption of a division into subject and object.

In the middle between the sight and the seen, there is a relationship which is known as the seer. When the division between the seer, the sight and the seen is abolished, that is the supreme. When the mind travels from one country to another, between them is cosmic intelligence. Be that always. Even as you do not busy yourself with the affairs of a future village, do not get tangled with the moods of your mind, but be established in truth. Regard the mind as a foreigner or a piece of wood or stone. There is no mind in infinite consciousness; that which is done by this non-existent mind is also unreal. Be established in this realisation. I have investigated the truth concerning the mind for a very long time, O Rama, and have found none: only infinite consciousness exists.

The company of holy ones (Satsang)

This seemingly endless stream of ignorance can be crossed over only by the constant company of holy ones. From such company there arises wisdom concerning what is worth seeking and what is to be avoided. Then there arises the pure wish to attain liberation. This leads to serious inquiry. Then the mind becomes subtle, because this inquiry thins out the mental conditioning. As a result of the rising of pure wisdom, one’s consciousness moves in the reality. Then the mental conditioning vanishes and there is non-attachment. Bondage to actions and their fruits ceases. The vision is firmly established in truth and the apprehension of the unreal is weakened. Even while living and functioning in this world, he who has this unconditioned vision does what has to be done as if he is asleep, without thinking of the world and its pleasures. After some years of living like this, one is fully liberated and transcends all these states: he is liberated while living.

Overcoming Maya

When mental conditioning is overcome and the mind is made perfectly tranquil, the illusion that deludes the ignorant comes to an end. It is only as long as this illusion (Maya) is not clearly understood that it generates this great delusion; once it is clearly understood, it is seen as the infinite, and it becomes the source of happiness and the realisation of the absolute Brahman. It is only for the sake of scriptural instruction that one speaks of the self, Brahman, etc., but in truth one alone is. It is pure consciousness, not embodied being. It is, whether one knows or not, whether one is embodied or without a body. All the unhappiness you see in this world belongs to the body; the self which is not grasped by the senses is not touched by sorrow. In the self there is no desire: the world appears in it without any wish or intention on its part. Thus,

Sage Vasistha’s concluding remarks to Lord Rama

O Rama, through my precepts the false notion of a creation and its existence has been dispelled. Your consciousness has become pure, devoid of duality.

 

Yoga Vasishta Sara (The essence of the Yoga Vasishta)

One of the most amazing scriptures of Advaita (non-duality) is the Yoga Vasishta. It is, as far as I am aware, the longest Advaitic treatise in the Vedanta/Hindu scriptures, and one of the oldest and most authentic scriptures too. The text has been highly revered by all the great Advaita sages through the centuries and speaks authoritatively on all matters relating to Vedanta and Liberation. 

The Yoga Vasishta in its earliest form likely predates or is at least contemporary with Sri Shankara’s writing (neither Shankara not any of his works are mentioned a single time in any of the 32,000 couplet verses), but is consistent with it in terms of the major themes of how an apparent individual can attain enlightenment. There are very few texts that clearly explain in detail what traditional Vedanta teachings were like prior to Shankara. In Yoga Vasishta we surely have such a text, and not just any text, but an incredibly long and rich work that explains everything the seeker needs to know in detail and with such poetic ease. It clearly directs us to the True Vedanta teachings and away from falsehoods.

To my mind the Yoga Vasishta is the singular traditional scripture that is also closest to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s teaching. Indeed in Ramana’s Supplement to his 40 verses on reality, Ramana took several verses from Yoga Vasishta verbatim and simply included them unaltered into his work. High praise indeed. Many of Sri Ramana’s answers to questions in his various talks could easily have been chapter excerpts lifted from Yoga Vasishta.

One unusual thing about Yoga Vasishta is that the teacher, Sage Vasishta, is teaching none other than Rama, God-incarnate and avatar of Vishnu. How lucky we are to receive these teachings! While it is a very large text, it is also very accessible, with all the aspects of Vedanta clearly explained in a systematic and easy to understand way, with use of wonderful imagery and narrative throughout.

Here below we have a distillation of the text for the serious seeker, Yoga Vasishta Sara. May it help you on your way.

Blessings and best wishes

Tom

19124021

INTRODUCTION TO THE SRI RAMANASRAMAM PUBLICATION OF THE TEXT

The Brihat (the great) Yoga Vasishta or Yoga Vasishta Maha Ramayana as it is also called, is a work of about 32,000 Sanskrit couplets, traditionally attributed to Valmiki, the author of Srimad Ramayana. It is a dialogue between Sage Vasishta and Sri Rama, during which Advaita (the doctrine of non-duality) in its pure form of ajatavada (theory of non-origination) is expounded, with illustrative stories in between. This vast work was abridged some centuries ago by Abhinanda Pandita, a Kashmiri scholar, into 6,000 couplets, which go by the name of Laghu Yoga Vasishta. This is a masterpiece in itself, like the original Brihat. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi used to refer to Yoga Vasishta frequently and has even incorporated six couplets from it in His Supplement to Forty Verses (verses 21 to 27). A further condensation of this work was made long ago, by an unknown author, into about 230 couplets, divided into ten chapters, as Yoga Vasishta Sara (Essence of Yoga Vasishta), of which this translation is presented for the first time. By making this condensation the author has rendered a great service to all sadhaks. This is indeed a goldmine fit for repeated reading and meditation.

CHAPTER ONE – DISPASSION

1. Salutations to that calm effulgence which is endless and unlimited by space, time etc., the pure consciousness which can be known by experience only.

2. Neither one who is totally ignorant nor one who knows it (i.e. Truth) is eligible to study this book. Only he who thinks ‘I am bound; I must become free’ is entitled to study it.

3. Until one is definitely blessed by the Supreme Lord he will not find either a proper Guru or the right scripture.

4. Just as a steady boat, O Rama, is obtained from a boatman, so also the method of crossing the ocean of samsara is learnt by associating with great souls.

5. The great remedy for the long-lasting disease of samsara is the enquiry, ‘Who am I?, to whom does this samsara belong?,’ which entirely cures it.

6. Not a day should be spent in a place which does not possess the tree of a wise knower of Truth with its good fruit and cool shade.

7. The sages are to be approached even if they do not teach. Even their talks in a light vein contain wisdom.

8. The company of sages converts emptiness into fullness, death into immortality and adversity into prosperity.

9. If sages were concerned solely with their own happiness with whom could those tormented by the sorrows of samsara seek refuge?

10. That which is imparted, O good soul, to a worthy disciple who has become dispassionate, is the real wisdom; it is the real purport of the sacred texts and is also the comprehensive wisdom.

11. Following the customary method of teaching is only for preserving the tradition. Pure awareness results solely from the clarity of the disciple’s understanding.

12. The Lord cannot be seen with the help of the sacred texts or the Guru. The self is seen by the Self alone with the pure intellect.

13. All the arts acquired by men are lost by lack of practice, but this art of wisdom grows steadily once it rises.

14. Just as an ornament worn round the neck is considered lost through forgetfulness and is gained when the mistake is realized, so also the Self is attained (when the delusion is removed) by the words of the Guru.

15. He is indeed an unfortunate person who, not knowing his own Self, takes pleasure in sense-objects, like one who realizes too late that the food eaten by him was poisonous.

16. That perverted man who, even after knowing that worldly objects are deceptive, still thinks of them, is an ass not a man.

17. Even the slightest thought immerses a man in sorrow; when devoid of all thoughts he enjoys imperishable bliss.

18. Just as we experience the delusion of hundreds of years in a dream lasting an hour, so also we experience the sport of maya in our waking state.

19. He is a happy man whose mind is inwardly cool and free from attachment and hatred and who looks upon this (world) like a mere spectator.

20. He who has understood well how to abandon all ideas of acceptance and rejection and who has realized the consciousness which is within the innermost heart -his life is illustrious.

21. On the dissolution of the body, the ether (consciousness) limited by the heart (hridayam) alone ceases to exist. People lament needlessly that the Self is extinct.

22. When pots, etc. are broken the space within them becomes unlimited. So also when bodies cease to exist the Self remains eternal and unattached.

23. Nothing whatever is born or dies anywhere at any time. It is Brahman alone appearing illusorily in the form of the world.

24. The Self is more extensive than space; it is pure, subtle, undecaying and auspicious. As such how could it be born and how can it die?

25. All this is the tranquil, One without beginning, middle or end, which cannot be said to be existent or non-existent. Know this and be happy.

26. O Rama, it is indeed nobler to wander begging about the streets of the outcasts (chandalas), an earthen bowl in hand, than to live a life steeped in ignorance.

27. Neither disease nor poison nor adversity nor any other thing in the world causes more suffering to men than such stupidity engendered in their bodies.

CHAPTER TWO – UNREALITY OF THE WORLD

1. Just as the great ocean of milk became still when the Mandara Mountain (with which it was churned by the Devas and the Asuras) became still, even so the illusion of samsara comes to an end when the mind is stilled.

2. Samsara rises when the mind becomes active and ceases when it is still. Still the mind, therefore, by controlling the breath and the latent desires (vasanas).

3. This worthless (lit. burnt out) samsara is born of one’s imagination and vanishes in the absence of imagination. It is certain that it is absolutely unsubstantial.

4. The idea of a (live) snake in a picture of a snake ceases to be entertained when the truth is known. Similarly samsara ceases to exist (when the Truth is realized), even if it continues to appear.

5. This long-living ghost of a samsara which is the creation of the deluded mind of man and the cause of his sufferings disappears when one ponders over it.

6. O Rama, maya is such that it brings delight through its own destruction; its nature is inscrutable; it ceases to exist even while it is being observed.

7. Dear boy, wonderful indeed is this maya which deludes the entire world. It is on account of it that the Self is not perceived even though it pervades all the limbs of the body.

8. Whatever is seen does not truly exist. It is like the mythical city of Gandharvas (fata morgana) or a mirage.

9. That which is not seen, though within us, is called the eternal and indestructible Self.

10. Just as the trees on the bank of a lake are reflected in the water, so also all these varied objects are reflected in the vast mirror of our consciousness.

11. This creation, which is a mere play of consciousness, rises up, like the delusion of a snake in a rope (when there is ignorance) and comes to an end when there is right knowledge.

12. Even though bondage does not really exist, it becomes strong through desire for worldly enjoyments; when this desire subsides bondage becomes weak.

13. Like waves rising up from the ocean the unstable mind rises out of the vast and stable expanse of the Supreme Self.

14. It is because of that which always, of its own accord, imagines (everything) quickly and freely that this magical show (of the world) is projected in the waking state.

15. This world, though unreal, appears to exist and is the cause of life-long suffering to an ignorant person, just as a (non-existent) ghost (is the cause of fear) to a boy.

16. One who has no idea of gold sees only the bracelet. He does not at all have the idea that it is merely gold.

17. Similarly towns, houses, mountains, serpents, etc. are all in the eyes of the ignorant man, separate objects. From the absolute point of view; this objective (world) is the subject (the Self) itself; it is not separate (from the Self).

18. The world is full of misery to an ignorant man and full of bliss to a wise man. The world is dark to a blind man and bright to one who has eyes.

19. The bliss of a man of discrimination, who has rejected samsara and discarded all mental concepts, constantly increases.

20. Like clouds which suddenly appear in a clear sky and as suddenly dissolve, the entire universe (appears) in the Self and (dissolves in it).

21. He who reckons the rays as non-different from the sun and realizes that they are the sun itself is stated to be nirvikalpa (the undifferentiating man).

22. Just as the cloth, when investigated, is seen to be nothing but thread, so also this world, when enquired into, is (seen to be) merely the Self.

23. This fascinating world rises like a wave in the ambrosial ocean of consciousness and dissolves in it. How then can it be different from it (i.e. consciousness) in the middle (i.e. when it appears)?

24. Just as the foam, the waves, the dew and the bubbles are not different from water, even so this world which has come out of the Self is not different from the Self.

25. Just as a tree consisting of fruits, leaves, creepers, flowers, branches, twigs and roots, exists in the seed of the tree, even so this manifest world exists in Brahman.

26. Just as the pot (ultimately) goes back to mud, waves into water and ornaments into gold, so also this world which has come out of the Self (ultimately) goes back to the Self.

27. The snake appears when one does not recognise the rope; it disappears when one recognises the rope. Even so this world appears when the Self is not recognised; it disappears when the Self is recognised.

28. It is only our forgetfulness of the invisible Self which causes the world to appear just as (the ignorance of the) rope (causes the) snake to appear.

29. Just as the dream becomes unreal in the waking state and the waking state in the dream, so also death becomes unreal in birth and birth in death.

30. All these are thus neither real nor unreal. They are the effect of delusion, mere impressions arising out of some past experiences.

CHAPTER THREE – THE MARKS OF A LIBERATED PERSON (JIVANMUKTA)

1. The knowledge of the Self is the fire that burns up the dry grass of desire. This indeed is what is called samadhi, not mere abstention from speech.

2. He who realizes that the whole universe is really nothing but consciousness and remains quite calm is protected by the armour of Brahman; he is happy.

3. The yogi who has attained the state which is beyond everything and remains always cool as the full moon is truly the Supreme Lord.

4. He who reflects in his innermost heart upon the purport of the Upanishads dealing with Brahman and is not moved by joy and sorrow, is not tormented by samsara.

5. Just as birds and beasts do not take shelter on a mountain on fire, so also evil (thoughts) never occur to a knower of Brahman.

6. Wise men also, like foolish men, (occasionally) make others angry, (but they do so only) in order to test their ability to control their innate feelings (that is to say to see how far the anger of other persons will affect them).

7. Just as the trembling (of the body) caused by the (imaginary) snake persists (for some time) even after realising that there is no snake, so also the effect of delusion persists (for some time) even after getting rid of all delusions.

8. Just as a crystal is not stained by what is reflected in it, so also a knower of truth is not really affected by the result of his acts.

9. Even while he is intent on outward actions (the knower of Truth) always remains introverted and extremely calm like one asleep.

10. Firmly convinced of non-duality and enjoying perfect mental peace, yogis go about their work seeing the world as if it were a dream.

11. Let death come to him (the knower of truth) today or at the end of aeons; he remains untarnished like gold buried in mire.

12. He may cast off his body at Kashi or in the house of an outcaste (lit. one who cooks dog’s flesh). He, the desireless one, is liberated at the very moment he attains knowledge (of Brahman).

13. To one who is desireless, the earth, O Rama, is (as insignificant as) the hoof-print of a cow, Mount Meru, a mound, space as much as contained in a casket and the three worlds a blade of grass.

14. Like an empty vessel in space (the knower of Truth) is empty both within and without, while at the same time he is full within and without like a vessel immersed in the ocean.

15. He who neither likes nor dislikes the objects seen by him and who acts (in the world) like one asleep, is said to be a liberated person.

16. He who is free from the knots (of desires) and whose doubts have been set at rest is liberated even when he is in the body (jivan mukta). Although he may seem to be bound, he is free. He remains like a lamp in a picture.

17. He who has easily (lit. as if in sport) cast off all his egoistic tendencies and has abandoned even the object of meditation, is said to be liberated even when he is in the body.

18. He who does not, like one blind, recognise (lit. leaves far behind) his relatives, who dreads attachment as he would a serpent, who looks upon sense-enjoyments and diseases alike, who disregards the company of women as he would a blade of grass and who finds no distinction between a friend and a foe, experiences happiness in this world and the next.

19. He who casts away from his mind all objects of perception and, attaining perfect quiescence, remains still as space, unaffected by sorrow, is a liberated man; he is the Supreme Lord.

20. The noble-hearted man whose desires of the heart have come to an end is a liberated man; it does not matter whether he does or does not practise meditation or perform action.

21. The idea of Self in the non-Self is bondage. Abandonment of it is liberation. There is neither bondage nor liberation for the ever-free Self.

22. If, by perceiving that the objects of perception do not really exist, the mind is completely freed (from those objects) there ensues the supreme bliss of liberation.

23. Abandonment of all latent tendencies is said to be the best (i.e. real) liberation by the wise; that is also the faultless method (of attaining liberation).

24. Liberation is not on the other side of the sky, nor is it in the nether world, nor on the earth; the extinction of the mind resulting from the eradication of all desires is regarded as liberation.

25. O Rama, there is no intellect, no nescience, no mind and no individual soul (jiva). They are all imagined in Brahman.

26. To one who is established in what is infinite, pure consciousness, bliss and unqualified non-duality, where is the question of bondage or liberation, seeing that there is no second entity?

27. O Rama, the mind has, by its own activity, bound itself; when it is calm it is free.

CHAPTER FOUR – DISSOLUTION OF THE MIND

1. Consciousness which is undivided imagines to itself desirable objects and runs after them. It is then known as the mind.

2. From this omnipresent and omnipotent Supreme Lord arose, like ripples in water, the power of imagining separate objects.

3. Just as fire born out of wind (fanned into a flame) is extinguished by the same wind, so also that which is born of imagination is destroyed by imagination itself.

4. The mind has come into existence through this (imagination) on account of forgetfulness. Like the experience of one’s own death in a dream it ceases to exist when scrutinised.

5. The idea of Self in what is not the Self is due to incorrect understanding. The idea of reality in what is unreal, O Rama, know that to be the mind (chittam).

6. ‘This is he’, ‘I am this’, ‘That is mine’, such (ideas) constitute the mind; it disappears when one ponders over these false ideas.

7. It is the nature of the mind to accept certain things and to reject others; this is bondage, nothing else.

8. The mind is the creator of the world, the mind is the individual (purusha); only that which is done by the mind is regarded as done, not that which is done by the body. The arm with which one embraces the wife is the very arm with which one embraces the daughter.

9. The mind is the cause of (i.e. produces) the objects of perception. The three worlds depend upon it. When it is dissolved the world is also dissolved. It is to be cured (i.e. purified) with effort.

10. The mind is bound by the latent impressions (vasanas). When there are no impressions it is free. Therefore, O Rama, bring about quickly, through discrimination, the state in which there are no impressions.

11. Just as a streak of cloud stains (i.e. appears to stain) the moon or a blotch of ink a lime-plastered wall, so also the evil spirit of desire stains the inner man.

12. O Rama, he who, with in-turned mind, offers all the three worlds, like dried-grass, as an oblation in the fire of knowledge, becomes free from the illusions of the mind.

13. When one knows the real truth about acceptance and rejection and does not think of anything but abides in himself, abandoning everything, (his) mind does not come into existence.

14. The mind is terrible (ghoram) in the waking state, gentle (santam) in the dream state, dull (mudham) in deep sleep and dead when not in any of these three states.

15. Just as the powder of the kataka seed, after precipitating the dirt in water, becomes merged in the water, so also the mind (after removing all impressions) itself becomes merged (in the Self ).

16. The mind is samsara; the mind is also said to be bondage; the body is activated by the mind just as a tree is shaken by the wind.

17. Conquer your mind first, by pressing the palm with the palm, grinding the teeth with the teeth and twisting the limbs with the limbs.

18. Does not the fool feel ashamed to move about in the world as he pleases and talk about meditation when he is not able to conquer even the mind?

19. The only god to be conquered is the mind. Its conquest leads to the attainment of everything. Without its conquest all other efforts are fruitless.

20. To be unperturbed is the foundation of blessedness (Sri). One attains liberation by it. To human beings even the conquest of the three worlds, without the conquest of the mind, is as insignificant as a blade of grass.

21. Association with the wise, abandonment of latent impressions, self-enquiry, control of breathing -these are the means of conquering the mind.

22. To one who is shod with leather the earth is as good as covered with leather. Even so to the mind which is full (i.e. undivided) the world overflows with nectar.

23. The mind becomes bound by thinking ‘I am not Brahman’; it becomes completely released by thinking ‘I am Brahman’.

24. When the mind is abandoned (i.e. dissolves), everything that is dual or single is dissolved. What remains after that is the Supreme Brahman, peaceful, eternal and free from misery.

25. There is nothing to equal the supreme joy felt by a person of pure mind who has attained the state of pure consciousness and overcome death.

CHAPTER FIVE – THE DESTRUCTION OF LATENT IMPRESSIONS (VASANAS)

1. O Rama, this enquiry into the Self of the nature or ‘Who am I?’ is the fire which burns up the seeds of the evil tree which is the mind.

2. Just as the wind does not affect the creepers in a picture, so also afflictions do not affect one whose understanding is fortified by firmness and (always) reflected in the mirror of enquiry.

3. The knowers of truth declare that enquiry into the truth of the Self is knowledge. What is to be known is contained in it like sweetness in milk.

4. To one who has realized the Self by enquiry Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are objects of compassion.

5. To one who is fond of enquiring (constantly), ‘What is this vast universe?’ and ‘Who am I?’ this world becomes quite unreal.

6. Just as in a mirage the idea of water does not occur to one who knows (that it is a mirage), even so latent impressions do not rise in one whose ignorance has been destroyed by realizing that everything is Brahman.

7. By the abandonment of latent impressions or by the control of breathing, mind ceases to be the mind. Practise whichever you like.

8. O pure soul, cherish the association of sages and the true scriptures; you will attain the state of Supreme Consciousness not in the course of months but days.

9. Latent impressions cease to be active when one associates with sages, discards all thoughts of samsara and remembers that the body has to die.

10. O Raghava, even ignorant persons convert, by the firmness of their conviction, poison into nectar and nectar into poison.

11. When this body is taken to be real it serves the purpose of a body, but when it is seen to be unreal it becomes like space (i.e. unsubstantial).

12. O Rama, while lying on a soft bed you wander about in all directions with a dream body; but now (in this waking state) where is that body?

13. Just as a respectable man avoids contact with an outcast woman carrying dog’s flesh, so also one should discard the thought ‘I-am-the-body’, even if everything were to be lost.

14. When the aspirant (sadhu) thinks only of Brahman and remains calm and free from sorrows his egoity dies of itself.

15. If one realizes the unity of things everywhere, one always remains tranquil, inwardly cool and pure like space without the sense of ‘I’.

16. If inwardly one is cool the whole world will be cool, but if inwardly one is hot (i.e. agitated) the whole world will be a burning mass.

CHAPTER SIX – MEDITATION ON THE SELF

1. I, the pure, stainless and infinite Consciousness beyond maya, look upon this body in action like the body of another.

2. The mind, the intellect, the senses, etc. are all the play of Consciousness. They are unreal and seem to exist only due to lack of insight.

3. Unmoved by adversity, a friend of all the world in prosperity, without ideas of existence and nonexistence, I live free from misery.

4. Inactive am I, desireless, clear as the sky, free from hankering, tranquil, formless, everlasting and unmoving.

5. I have now clearly understood that the five elements, the three worlds and I myself are pure Consciousness.

6. I am above everything; I am present everywhere; I am like space; I am that which (really) exists; I am unable to say anything beyond this.

7. Let imaginary waves of universe rise or fall in me who am the ocean of infinite Consciousness; there is no increase or decrease in me.

8. How wonderful that in me, the infinite ocean of consciousness, waves of jivas (individual souls) rise, sport for a while and disappear according to their nature.

9. The world which has come into existence on account of my ignorance has dissolved likewise in me. I now directly experience the world as supreme bliss of consciousness.

10. I prostrate to myself who am within all beings, the ever-free Self abiding as inner Consciousness.

CHAPTER SEVEN – METHOD OF PURIFICATION

1. O Raghava, be outwardly active but inwardly inactive, outwardly a doer but inwardly a non-doer, and thus play your part in the world.

2. O Raghava, abandon all desires inwardly, be free from attachments and latent impressions, do everything outwardly and thus play your part in the world.

3. O Raghava, adopt a comprehensive view, characterised by the abandonment of all objects of contemplation, live in your innate Self, liberated even while alive (jivan-mukta), and thus play your part in the world.

4. Burn the forest of duality with the fire of the conviction, ‘I am the one pure Consciousness’ and remain happy.

5. You are bound firmly on all sides by the idea, I am the body’. Cut that bond by the sword of knowledge ‘I am Consciousness’ and be happy.

6. Discarding the attachment to non-Self, regarding the world as a partless (whole), concentrated and with attention turned inward, remain as pure Consciousness.

7. Remain always as pure Consciousness which is your constant (i.e. true) nature beyond the states of waking, dream and deep sleep.

8. O mighty-armed, be always free from mental concepts like the heart of a rock though not insentient like it.

9. Do not be that which is understood, nor the one who understands. Abandon all concepts and remain what you are.

10. Eliminate one concept by another and the mind by the mind and abide in the Self. Is this so difficult, O holy man?

11. Sever the mind, which has on account of its cares become red hot, with the mind which is like iron sharpened by the study of scriptures.

12. O Raghava, what have you to do with this inert and dumb body? Why do you feel helpless and miserable by joys and sorrows on account of it?

13. What a vast difference between the flesh, blood, etc. (composing the body) and you, the embodiment of consciousness! Even after knowing this why do you not abandon the idea of Self in this body?

14. The mere knowledge that this body is like a piece of wood or a clod of earth enables one to realize the Supreme Self.

15. How strange that, while the real Brahman is forgotten by men, the unreal called avidya (nescience) appears very real to them (lit. struts about before them).

16. It is again strange that while the Supreme Brahman is forgotten by men, the idea ‘this is mine’ called avidya is firmly held by them (lit. strongly confronts them).

17. When you do your work do it without attachment even as a crystal which reflects the objects before it (but is not affected by them).

18. The conviction that everything is Brahman leads one to Liberation. Therefore reject entirely the idea of duality which is ignorance. Reject it entirely.

CHAPTER EIGHT – WORSHIP OF THE SELF

1. If you separate yourself from the body and abide at ease in Consciousness you will become one (the sole Reality), everything else appearing (insignificant) like grass.

2. After knowing that by which you know this (world) turn the mind inward and then you will see clearly (i.e. realize) the effulgence of the Self.

3. O Raghava, that by which you recognise sound, taste, form and smell, know that as your Self, the Supreme Brahman, the Lord of lords.

4. O Raghava, that in which beings vibrate, that which creates them, know that Self to be your real Self.

5. After rejecting, through reasoning, all that can be known as ‘non-truth’ what remains as pure Consciousness – regard that as your real Self.

6. Knowledge is not separate from you and that which is known is not separate from knowledge. Hence there is nothing other than the Self, nothing separate (from it).

7. ‘All that Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra and others always do is done by me, the embodiment of Consciousness’ – think in this manner.

8. ‘I am the whole universe. I am the undecaying Supreme Self. There is neither past nor future apart from me’ – reflect in this manner.

9. ‘Everything is the One Brahman, pure Consciousness, the Self of all, indivisible and immutable’ reflect in this manner.

10. ‘There is neither I nor any other thing. Only Brahman exists always full of bliss everywhere.’ – meditate on this calmly.

11. The sense of perceiver and perceived is common to all embodied beings, but the Yogi worships the One Self.

CHAPTER NINE – EXPOSITION OF THE SELF

1. When this assemblage of body, senses, etc. acts of its own accord there arises an idea ‘I am this.’ This is the jiva (ego) stained by the dirt of ignorance.

2. When the conviction that everything is the space-like (i.e. all pervasive) Consciousness becomes firm the jiva comes to an end like a lamp without oil.

3. Like a misguided Brahmin, who abandons his own nobility, and adopts the life of a Sudra, the Lord assumes the role of the jiva.

4. Just as a child sees an apparition (created by its own fancy), so also the stupid jiva creates, on account of delusion, this unreal body and sees it (as separate from him).

5. A child superimposes a (real) elephant on a clay elephant and plays with it; even so, an ignorant man superimposes the body, etc., on the Self and carries on his activities.

6. The picture of a snake does not cause fear of a snake when it is realised to be only a picture. Similarly when the jiva-snake is clearly understood there is neither misery nor the cause of misery.

7. The snake superimposed on a garland merges in it; so also the sense of separateness rising from the Self merges in the Self.

8. Although bracelets, etc. appear to be many, as gold they are one. Similarly although the adjuncts are many, the Self is really one.

9. Like the organs of the body and modifications of clay (i.e. vessels of clay) non-duality appears as duality (i.e. multiplicity) in the form of the moving and unmoving objects.

10. Just as a single face is reflected as many in a crystal, in water, or in ghee or in a mirror; so also the (one) Self is reflected in the (many) intellects (or minds).

11. Just as the sky is (i.e. appears to be) stained by dust, smoke and clouds, so also the pure Self in contact with the qualities of maya is (i.e. appears to be) soiled by them.

12. Just as metal in contact with fire acquires the quality of fire (namely heat), so also the senses, etc. in contact with the Self acquire the quality of the Self.

13. Just as the invisible Rahu becomes visible when it is seized by the moon (i.e., comes in contact with the moon), even so the Self is known by experiencing objects of perception.

14. When water and fire come together they acquire the qualities of each other. Even so when the Self and the inert body come together the Self looks like the non-Self and the non-Self looks like the Self.

15. Just as fire thrown into a large sheet of water loses its quality, so also Consciousness in contact with the unreal and the inert seems to lose its real nature and becomes inert.

16. The Self is realised in the body only with effort, like sugar from the sugarcane, oil from sesame seeds, fire from wood, butter from a cow and iron from stones (i.e. ore).

17. Like the sky seen in an unbroken crystal, the Supreme Lord of the nature of consciousness is seen (i.e. exists) in all objects.

18. Just as a big lamp kept inside a vessel made of precious stones illumines by its light both outside and inside, so also the one Self illumines (everything).

19. Just as the sun’s reflection in a mirror illumines (other things), so also the reflection of the Self in pure intellects illumines (other things).

20. That in which this wonderful universe appears like a snake in a rope is the eternal luminous Self.

21. The Self is without beginning or end. It is immutable Existence and Consciousness. It manifests space, it is the source of the jiva and higher than the highest.

22. The Self is pure Consciousness, eternal, omnipresent, immutable and self-effulgent like the light of the sun.

23. The omnipresent Self, the substratum of all, is non-different from the effulgent Consciousness like heat from fire. It can only be experienced (not known).

24. Pure Consciousness without intellect, the Supreme Self, the illuminator of all, the indivisible, pervading (everything) within and without, is the firm support (of all).

25. The Self is absolute Consciousness. It is pure awareness, undecaying, free from all ideas of acceptance or rejection and not limited by space, time or genus.

26. Just as the air in the universe pervades everything, so also the Self, the Lord, abides bodiless (in everything).

27. The Consciousness which exists in the expanse of earth, in the ornaments, in the sky and in the sun, exists also inside the worms lying in their shells under the earth.

28. There is neither bondage nor liberation, neither duality nor non-duality. There is only Brahman always shining as Consciousness.

29. Awareness is Brahman; the world is Brahman; the various elements are Brahman; I am Brahman; my enemy is Brahman; my friends and relatives are Brahman.

30. The idea of a consciousness and an object of consciousness is bondage; freedom from it is liberation. Consciousness, the object of consciousness and everything else is the Self; this is the gist of all systems of philosophy.

31. There is only consciousness here; this universe is nothing but consciousness; you are consciousness; I am consciousness; the worlds are consciousness – that is the conclusion.

32. That which exists and that which shines (i.e. is known to exist) are all the Self; anything else which seems to shine does not (really) exist. Consciousness alone shines by itself. Ideas of knower and known are idle postulates.

CHAPTER TEN – NIRVANA

1. Supreme Bliss cannot be experienced through contact of the senses with their objects. The supreme state is that in which the mind is annihilated through one-pointed enquiry.

2. The bliss arising from the contact of the senses with their objects is inferior. Contact with the sense objects is bondage; freedom from it is liberation.

3. Attain the pure state between existence and nonexistence and hold on to it; do not accept or reject the inner or the outer world.

4. Depend always on that true reality between the sentient and the inert which is the infinite space-like heart.

5. The belief in a knower and the known is called bondage. The knower is bound by the known; he is liberated when there is nothing to know.

6. Abandoning the ideas of seer, seen and sight along with latent desires (vasanas) of the past, we meditate on that Self which is the primal light that is the basis of sight.

7. We meditate on the eternal Self, the light of lights which lies between the two ideas of existence and non-existence.

8. We meditate on that Self of consciousness, the bestower of the fruits of all our thoughts, the illuminator of all radiant objects and the farthest limit of all accepted objects.

9. We meditate on that immutable Self, our reality, the bliss of which arises in the mind on account of the close contact between the seer and the seen.

10. If one meditates on that state which comes at the end of the waking state and the beginning of sleep, he will directly experience undecaying bliss.

11. The rock-like state in which all thoughts are still and which is different from the waking and dream states, is one’s supreme state.

12. Like mud in a mud pot the Supreme Lord who is existence and space-like consciousness and bliss exists everywhere non-separate (from things).

13. The Self shines by itself as the one boundless ocean of consciousness agitated by waves of thought.

14. Just as the ocean is nothing but water the entire world of things is nothing but consciousness filling all the quarters like the infinite space.

15. Brahman and space are alike as to their invisibility, all-pervasiveness and indestructibility, but Brahman is also consciousness.

16. There is only the one waveless and profound ocean of pure nectar, sweet through and through (i.e. blissful) everywhere.

17. All this is truly Brahman; all this is Atman. Do not cut up Brahman into ‘I am one thing’ and ‘this is another.’

18. As soon as it is realised that Brahman is all-pervasive and indivisible this vast samsara is found to be the Supreme Lord.

19. One who realises that everything is Brahman truly becomes Brahman; who would not become immortal if he were to drink nectar?

20. If you are wise you would become this (Brahman) by such conviction; if not, even if you are repeatedly told it would be (useless like offerings) thrown on ashes.

21. Even if you have known the real truth you have to practise always. Water will not become clear by merely uttering the word kataka fruit.

22. If one has the firm conviction ‘I am the Supreme Self called the undecaying Vasudeva’ he is liberated; otherwise he remains bound.

23. After eliminating everything as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, the Supreme Being (lit. state) which cannot be eliminated remains. Think ‘I am That’ and be happy.

24. Know always that the Self is Brahman, one and whole. How can that which is indivisible be divided into ‘I am the meditator’ and ‘the other is the object of meditation’?

25. When one thinks ‘I am pure consciousness’ it is called meditation and when even the idea of meditation is forgotten it is samadhi.

26. The constant flow of mental concepts relating to Brahman without the sense of ‘I’ achieved through intense practice of Self Enquiry (jnana) is what is called samprajnata samadhi (meditation with concepts).

27. Let violent winds which characterise the end of aeons (kalpas) blow; let all the oceans unite, let the twelve suns burn (simultaneously), still no harm befalls one whose mind is extinct.

28. That consciousness which is the witness of the rise and fall of all beings, know that to be the immortal state of supreme bliss.

29. Every moving or unmoving thing whatsoever is only an object visualised by the mind. When the mind is annihilated duality (i.e. multiplicity) is not perceived.

30. That which is immutable, auspicious and tranquil, that in which this world exists, that which manifests itself as the mutable and immutable objects -that is the sole consciousness.

31. Before discarding the slough the snake regards it as itself, but when once it has discarded it in its hole it does not look upon it as itself any longer.

32. He who has transcended both good and evil does not, like a child, refrain from prohibited acts from a sense of sin, nor does he do what is prescribed from a sense of merit.

33. Just as a statue is contained in a pillar (i.e. block) even if it is not actually carved out, so also the world exists in Brahman. Therefore the Supreme State is not a void.

34. Just as a pillar is said to be devoid of the statue when it has not actually been carved out, so also Brahman is said to be void when it is devoid of the impression of the world.

35. Just as still water may be said to contain or not contain ripples, so also Brahman may be said to contain or not contain the world. It is neither void nor existence.

Yoga Vasistha: HOW CAN IGNORANCE AND EGOTISM ARISE IN THE SELF?

Vasistha: The self ignorantly imagines an egotistic existence, even as if gold, forgetting its goldness, might think it is a ring and weep and wail “Alas, I have lost my goldness”.

Rama: Holy sir, how can this ignorance and egotism arise in the self?

Vasistha: Rama, one should ask questions concerning the reality only, not concerning the unreal. Neither goldless ringness nor limited egotism exists in truth. When the goldsmith sells the ring, he weighs out the gold, for it is gold. If one were to discuss the existence of the ringness in the ring, and the finite form in the infinite consciousness, then one has to compare it with the barren woman’s son.

The existence of the unreal is unreal: it arises in ignorance and vanishes when inquired into. In ignorance one sees silver in the mother-of-pearl, but it cannot serve as silver even for a moment! As long as the truth that it is mother-of-pearl is not seen, the ignorance lasts. Even as one cannot extract oil from sand and even as one can obtain only gold from the ring, there are no two things here in this universe: the one infinite consciousness alone shines in all names and forms.

Such indeed is the nature of this utter ignorance, this delusion and this world-process: without real existence there is this illusory notion of egotism. This egotism does not exist in the infinite self. In the infinite self there is no creator, no creation, no worlds, no heaven, no humans, no demons, no bodies, no elements, no time, no existence and no destruction, no ‘you’, no ‘I’, no self, no that, no truth, no falsehood (none of these), no notion of diversity, no contemplation and no enjoyment. Whatever is, and is known as the universe, is that supreme peace.

There is no beginning, no middle and no end: all is all at all times, beyond the comprehension of the mind and speech. There is no creation. The infinite has never abandoned its infinity. That has never become this. It is like the ocean, but without ocean’s movement. It is self-luminous like the sun, but without activity.

In ignorance, the supreme being is viewed as the object, as the world. Even as space exists in space, one with space, even so what appears to be the creation is Brahman existing in Brahman, as Brahman. The notions of far and near, of diversity, of here and there are as valid as the distance between two objects in a mirror in which a whole city is reflected.

The Ultimate or Highest Truth according to the Upanishads

There is a famous verse in the Upanishads that explicitly and specifically proclaims to hold the highest truth.

This verse was considered important enough that it was also incorporated into Shankara’s masterpiece Vivekachudamani and also Gaudapada’s main work, his commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad (the Mandukya Karika).

In fact it is the only verse that I know of that is repeated not only in more than one Upanishad, but is also repeated by the two greatest traditional exponents of Advaita Vedanta (ie. Shankara and Gaudapada) in their subsequent works.

Here is the verse:

There is neither destruction (Nirodha) nor creation (Utpatti), none in bondage (Bandha) and none practicing disciplines (Sadhaka). There is none seeking Liberation (Mumukshu) and none liberated (Mukta). This is the ultimate or highest truth (Paramartha).’

As I said above, this verse is found repeated in the Amritabindu Upanishad in verse 10, in the Atma Upanishad in verse 2.31. It was later incorporated by both Gaudapada (Mandukya Karika 2.32) and Shankara (Vivekachudamani verse 574) in their writings.

What do you think of this verse?

Bhagavad Gita – how to advance in Yoga

Gita the path is stillness.png

In the original Sanskrit, the word translated here as ‘work’ is ‘karma’. In the the preceding chapters Krishna has taught Arjuna about spiritual practice during activities, ie. karma yoga, in which the mind is made calm during activities by various means.

Now, in Chapter 6, Krishna teaches Arjuna that eventually the path of work leads to the path of stillness, and it is through stillness of mind that one advances in yoga. The rest of Chapter 6 explains in more details how this is to be done.

Be still and abide as the Self

Gita step by step he should become still.png

Whilst everything is nothing but the Self and nothing is ever apart from the Self, the Vedanta texts often speak of abiding as the Self.

This means to still the mind so that it is undisturbed and lose any notion of being a separate ‘I’ or ‘me’. Here we just abide as pure consciousness or pure knowingness, devoid of thoughts and phenomena, devoid of egotism.

This is pure ‘knowledge’ beyond knowledge, direct ‘experience’ beyond experiences, the ‘peace’ that passeth all understanding, Silence, beyond words and chatter.

❤️🙏

Ramana Maharshi – Upadesa Saram: The Essence of the Teachings

In Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s Upadesa Saram (The Essence of Instruction), we have in concise form all we need to know in order to attain liberation in this life. The teaching is densely packed in, making the teaching all the sweeter for the ripe seeker of Truth.

Here you will find universal teachings for enlightenment, the true Vedanta.

I have made some comments to hopefully make the teachings clearer. but have attempted to keep them to a minimum. They are in italicised red.

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

 

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1. कर्तुराज्ञया प्राप्यते फलम् ।
कर्म किं परं कर्म तज्जडम् ॥ १॥

kartur ājñyayā prāpyate phalaṃ
karma kiṃ paraṃ karma tajjaḍam

  1. Action yields fruit,
    For so the Lord ordains it.
    How can action be the Lord?
    It is insentient.

Cause and effect (action and fruit, karma) is essentially a mechanical process, insentient, subject to change, and not at all the Divine.

2. कृतिमहोदधौ पतनकारणम् ।
फलमशाश्वतं गतिनिरोधकम् ॥ २॥

kṛti-maho-dadhau patana-kāraṇam
phalama-śaśvataṃ gati-nirodhakam

2. The fruit of action passes.
But action leaves behind
Seed of further action
Leading to an endless ocean of action;
Not at all to moksha.

This here is a very important verse. All actions are limited, and therefore give rise to limited effects. These effects then in turn become the cause for another limited effect, and so on. Limited actions cannot give rise to That, in which there are no limits, so no limited actions can lead to Moksha. The unstated implication is THAT which we are looking for -The Absolute, Brahman, call IT what you will – THAT is already fully and completely here –  no action is required to attain the Self, as we are already THAT.

3. ईश्वरार्पितं नेच्छया कृतम् ।
चित्तशोधकं मुक्तिसाधकम् ॥ ३॥

īśvarārpitaṃ necchayā kṛtam
citta-śodhakaṃ mukti-sādhakam

3. Disinterested action
Surrendered to the Lord
Purifies the mind and points
The way to moksha.

Becoming increasingly disinterested in things that happen in the world, carrying out your social and ethical duties whilst surrendering all to Him, this is conducive to Liberation.

4. कायवाङ्मनः कार्यमुत्तमम् ।
पूजनं जपश्चिन्तनं क्रमात् ॥ ४॥

kāya-vāṅ-manaḥ kāryam-uttamam
pūjanaṃ japa-ścintanaṃ kramāt

4. This is certain:
Worship, praise and meditation,
Being work of body, speech and mind,
Are steps for orderly ascent.

Bhagavan gives us a hierarchy of practice, starting with worship (which utilises the body), then going to use praise (which utilises speech), and the to the higher practice of meditation (which utilises the mind). We are not to greedily jump straight to meditation as it is the higher practice, unless we are naturally ripe for this, but to start where we are for ‘orderly ascent’.

In the next few verses Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi will explain these practices to us in greater detail:

5. जगत ईशधी युक्तसेवनम् ।
अष्टमूर्तिभृद्देवपूजनम् ॥ ५॥

jagata īśadhī yukta sevanaṃ
aśṭa-mūrti bhṛd deva-pūjanam

5. Ether, fire, air, water, earth,
Sun, moon and living beings
Worship of these,
Regarded all as forms of His,
Is perfect worship of the Lord.

Worship of God can be worship of Him in any form, as long as we realised that the object itself is not Him, but just a divine expression of Him.

6. उत्तमस्तवादुच्चमन्दतः ।
चित्तजं जपध्यानमुत्तमम् ॥ ६॥

uttama-stavād-ucca-mandataḥ
cittajaṃ japa dhyānam uttamam

6. Better than hymns of praise
Is repetition of the Name;
Better low-voiced than loud,
But best of all
Is meditation in the mind.

The practice becomes, in time, increasingly subtle, starting from coarser practices involving the body and then speech, to subtler practices of the mind, as per verse 4.

7. आज्यधारया स्रोतसा समम् ।
सरलचिन्तनं विरलतः परम् ॥ ७॥

ajya-dhāraya srotasā samam
sarala cintanaṃ viralataḥ param

7. Better than spells of meditation
Is one continuous current,
Steady as a stream,
Or downward flow of oil.

Over time, meditation should move from the sporadic to the continuous. A wonderful traditional metaphor of a continuous current of a stream of oil is used so there is no mistake as to what this means. What what exactly is this meditation, and how can it be done? Worry not! Bhagavan will explain all to us in later verses. How lucky we are to have these beautiful teachings of His!

8. भेदभावनात् सोऽहमित्यसौ ।
भावनाऽभिदा पावनी मता ॥ ८॥

bheda-bhāvanāt so’hamityasau
bhavana’bhidā pāvanī matā

8. Better than viewing Him as Other,
Indeed the noblest attitude of all,
Is to hold Him as the ‘I’ within,
The very ‘I’.

A key part of the teachings is this – to realise that all is non-separate from Him. Furthermore, He is none other that the essence of You, the ‘I’ within. You are not praising a divine entity that is separate from your Being. All this is implied in verses 20 and 23, and more clearly stated in verse 26.

The next verse also states the same:

9. भावशून्यसद्भावसुस्थितिः ।
भावनाबलाद्भक्तिरुत्तमा ॥ ९॥

bhāva śūnyasad bhāva susthitiḥ
bhāvanā-balād bhaktir-uttamā

9. Abidance in pure being
Transcending thought through love intense
Is the very essence
Of supreme devotion.

10. हृत्स्थले मनः स्वस्थता क्रिया ।
भक्तियोगबोधाश्च निश्चितम् ॥ १०॥

hṛtsthale manaḥ svasthatā kriyā
bhakti yoga bodhaśca niścitam

10. Absorption in the heart of being,
Whence we sprang,
Is the path of action, of devotion,
Of union and of knowledge.

For the more intellectually inclined, this verse can be illuminating. Bhagavan is stating here, in line with the Upanishads (eg. Amritabindu Upanishad verses 2-5) and Bhagavad Gita (eg Chapter 5 verse 4), that all the main yogas are, at this stage in the practice, all essentially the same. Abiding as the Self IS the path of action, abiding as the Self IS Devotion, abiding as the Self IS Yoga (‘union’), abiding as the Self IS Knowledge.

Amritabindu Upanishad, verse 5: ‘The mind should be prevented from functioning, until it dissolves itself in the heart. This is Jnana, this is Dhyana, the rest is all mere concoction of untruth.’

Bhagavad Gita 5.4: ‘Only the ignorant say that the yoga of knowledge and the yoga of devotional action are different, wise people do not. One who is perfectly established in one, obtains the result of both.’

11. वायुरोधनाल्लीयते मनः ।
जालपक्षिवद्रोधसाधनम् ॥ ११॥

vayu-rodhanāl līyate manaḥ
jāla-pakṣivat rodha-sādhanam

11. Holding the breath controls the mind,
A bird caught in a net.
Breath-regulation helps
Absorption in the heart.

A key teaching that regulation of the breath is a useful aid to Abiding as Self. The invitation is to take up this advice an incorporate it into your practice.

12. चित्तवायवश्चित्क्रियायुताः ।
शाखयोर्द्वयी शक्तिमूलका ॥ १२॥

citta-vāyavaś cit-kriyāyutāḥ
śā khayor-dvayi śakti-mūlakā

12. Mind and breath (as thought and action)
Fork out like two branches.
But both spring
From a single root.

Both the mind and breath or actions, in fact all phenomena, arise from a single Source. The implication is that finding the source of the mind can also be done by finding the source of the breath.

13. लयविनाशने उभयरोधने ।
लयगतं पुनर्भवति नो मृतम् ॥ १३॥

laya vinaśane ubhaya-rodhane
laya-gataṃ punar bhavati no mṛtam

13. Absorption is of two sorts;
Submergence and destruction.
Mind submerged rises again;
Dead, it revives no more.

The implication is that death of mind is the goal, rather than just a mere temporary quiescence of mind.

Next the method by which the mind can be killed is given:

14. प्राणबन्धनाल्लीनमानसम् ।
एकचिन्तनान्नाशमेत्यदः ॥ १४॥

prāṇa-bandhanāt līna-mānasam
eka-cintanāt nāśametyadaḥ

14. Breath controlled and thought restrained,
The mind turned one-way inward
Fades and dies.

Why kill the mind? It is through killing the mind that one abides as the Self and returns to one’s own ‘natural being’, which is without action:

15. नष्टमानसोत्कृष्टयोगिनः ।
कृत्यमस्ति किं स्वस्थितिं यतः ॥ १५॥

naṣta-manasot-kṛṣṭa yoginaḥ
kṛtyam asti kiṃ svasthitiṃ yataḥ

15. Mind extinct, the mighty seer
Returns to his own natural being
And has no action to perform.

Yoga Vasishta, one of Ramana’s favourite traditional texts, says: ‘Supreme Bliss cannot be experienced through contact of the senses with their objects. The supreme state is that in which the mind is annihilated through one-pointed enquiry.’ and elsewhere it also states: ‘Every moving or unmoving thing whatsoever is only an object visualised by the mind. When the mind is annihilated duality (i.e. multiplicity) is not perceived.’


Now we are half-way through the text. The essential teaching has already been given. In the second half further elucidation and clarification will be lovingly dispensed:


16. दृश्यवारितं चित्तमात्मनः ।
चित्त्वदर्शनं तत्त्वदर्शनम् ॥ १६॥

dṛśya-vāritaṃ citta-mātmanaḥ
citva-darśanaṃ tattva darśanam

16. It is true wisdom
For the mind to turn away
From outer objects and behold
Its own effulgent form.

What is true wisdom? It is for the mind to turn away from all objects and phenomena and abide as the Self.

Some confusion may arise as to how the mind, the nature of which is thought (verse 18), can behold it’s ‘own effulgent form’. When the mind is turn outward, occupied with objects such as thoughts, feelings, the body and the outer world of objects, it is called the mind. When the mind is no longer occupied with these things, it is none other than the Self.

Yoga Vasishta states: ‘Consciousness which is undivided imagines to itself desirable objects and runs after them. It is then known as the mind.’ and also elsewhere states: ‘After knowing that by which you know this (world) turn the mind inward and then you will see clearly (i.e. realize) the effulgence of the Self.’ and elsewhere states: ‘O Rama, the mind has, by its own activity, bound itself; when it is calm it is free.’

17. मानसं तु किं मार्गणे कृते ।
नैव मानसं मार्ग आर्जवात् ॥ १७॥

mānasaṃ tu kiṃ mārgaṇe kṛte
naiva mānasaṃ mārge ārjavāt

17. When unceasingly the mind
Scans its own form
There is nothing of the kind.
For every one
This path direct is open.

Another key verse here. The insight here is that the mind is not a real entity, just an imagined one. When searched for, it cannot be found as a distinct entity. What a wonderful and essential teaching is presented here! It is further expounded on in the next two verses:

18. वृत्तयस्त्वहं वृत्तिमाश्रिताः ।
वृत्तयो मनो विद्ध्यहं मनः ॥ १८॥

vṛttayastvahaṃ vṛtti-maśritaḥ
vṛttayo mano viddhayahaṃ manaḥ

18. Thoughts alone make up the mind;
And of all thoughts the ‘I’ thought is the root.
What is called mind is but the notion ‘I’.

The mind is nothing but a bundle of thoughts, and it is founded upon the I-concept. The concept of a separate ‘me’ or ‘I’ is the mind.

19. अहमयं कुतो भवति चिन्वतः ।
अयि पतत्यहं निजविचारणम् ॥ १९॥

ahamayaṃ kuto bhavati cinvataḥ
ayi patatyahaṃ nijavicāraṇam

19. When one turns within and searches
Whence this ‘I’ thought arises,
The shamed ‘I’ vanishes –
And wisdom’s quest begins.

The above verse states this is but the beginning of self-enquiry, ‘the quest’. How do we proceed after we have searched for the source of the I-concept and found it to be non-existent? Let us see:

20. अहमि नाशभाज्यहमहंतया ।
स्फुरति हृत्स्वयं परमपूर्णसत् ॥ २०॥

ahami nāśa-bhā-jyahama-hantaya
sphurati hṛt-svayaṃ parama-pūrṇa-sat

20. Where this ‘I’ notion faded
Now there as I–I, arises
The One, the very Self,
The Infinite.

The Self is defined as that in which there is no I-concept. This can only be realised non-verbally through practice and direct experience.

21. इदमहं पदाऽभिख्यमन्वहम् ।
अहमिलीनकेऽप्यलयसत्तया ॥ २१॥

idamaham padā’bhikhya-manvaham
aham-ilīnake’pyalaya sattyā

21. Of the term, ‘I’, the permanent import
Is That. For even in deep sleep
Where we have no sense of ‘I’
We do not cease to be.

A pointer here that what is known as ‘I’ is actually none other than THAT, ie. God or the Absolute, the Infinite. Even in deep sleep, whilst there is no I-concept, our BEINGNESS persists, BEINGNESS being the true I, or true Self, as per verse 23.

22. विग्रहेन्द्रियप्राणधीतमः ।
नाहमेकसत्तज्जडं ह्यसत् ॥ २२॥

vigrah-endriya prāṇa-dhītamaḥ
nāhameka-sat tajjaḍam hyasat

22. Body, senses, mind, breath, sleep –
All insentient and unreal –
Cannot be ‘I’,
‘I’ who am the Real.

Rather late on in the text Ramana introduces to us the teaching of discerning the Self from the non-Self (Viveka, or Atma-anatma-viveka). The essence of what we are, which does not change, which is ever-present and ‘Real’, cannot be that which changes and that which has no consciousness of its own (ie. ‘insentient’). The real is that which illuminates the unreal, ie. is consciousness or sentient.

23. सत्त्वभासिका चित्क्ववेतरा ।
सत्तया हि चिच्चित्तया ह्यहम् ॥ २३॥

sattva-bhāsika citkva vetarā
sattyā hi cit cittayā hyaham

23. For knowing That which is
There is no other knower.
Hence Being is Awareness;
And we all are Awareness.

Awareness needs no second light to illuminate it. We may need a light source to illuminate a common everyday object in darkness, but the sun needs no secondary light source to be seen. It is self-shining, self-aware. To know the Self, THAT, is not really a knowing in that there is no second object to be known (hence non-duality), but knowing the Self really just being BEING the Self, or BEING AWARENESS.

24. ईशजीवयोर्वेषधीभिदा ।
सत्स्वभावतो वस्तु केवलम् ॥ २४॥

īśa-jīvayor veṣa-dhī-bhidā
sat-svabhāvato vastu kevalam

24. In the nature of their being
Creature and creator are in substance one.
They differ only
In adjuncts and awareness.

Ramana makes some clarifications here so we are clear on what is being said. He is stating that the nature of the individual or jiva (ie. ‘creature’ which is actually a translation of jiva) is the same as the essential nature of God or Ishvara (‘creator’, which is a translation of Isa or Isvara, ie. the Lord). The difference is only in the phenomenal appearance, but both are in essence BEING-AWARENESS. This reasoning is taken further in the next verse:

25. वेषहानतः स्वात्मदर्शनम् ।
ईशदर्शनं स्वात्मरूपतः ॥ २५॥

veṣa-hānataḥ svātma-darśanam
īśa-darśanaṃ svātma-rūpataḥ

25. Seeing oneself free of all attributes
Is to see the Lord,
For He shines ever as the pure Self.

Therefore, if you ‘see’ yourself devoid of all phenomena and ‘attributes’, which means to be aware but to be devoid of thoughts, feelings, body and worldly objects, then you are seeing your essential nature, which is to see God (Isa or Ishvara). Your essential nature is Him. Remember, the word seeing doesn’t mean you are seeing something, for there is no duality here. Ramana, out of his love and compassion for us, tells us as follows:

26. आत्मसंस्थितिः स्वात्मदर्शनम् ।
आत्मनिर्द्वयादात्मनिष्ठता ॥ २६॥

ātma-saṃsthitiḥ svātma-darśanam
ātma-nirdvayād ātma-niṣṭhatā

26. To know the Self is but to be the Self,
For it is non-dual.
In such knowledge
One abides as that.

He reminds us that this is not a dualistic knowing (of objects), but just BEING THAT. The word ‘know’ is just a dualistic phrase used, dualistic as it implies a knower and something that is known, whereas here there is no knower or know, just BEING-AWARENESS:

27. ज्ञानवर्जिताऽज्ञानहीनचित् ।
ज्ञानमस्ति किं ज्ञातुमन्तरम् ॥ २७॥

jñāna-varjitā-jñana-hina cit
jñānam-asti kiṃ jñātum-antaram

27. That is true knowledge which transcends
Both knowledge and ignorance,
For in pure knowledge
Is no object to be known.

True Knowledge is simply a synonym for the Self, and there are no objects in the Self. 

The Amritabindu Upanishad says, in verse 4: The mind severed from all connection with sensual objects, and prevented from functioning out, awakes into the light of the heart, and finds the highest condition.

28. किं स्वरूपमित्यात्मदर्शने ।
अव्ययाऽभवाऽऽपूर्णचित्सुखम् ॥ २८॥

kiṃ svarūpamit-yātma darśane
avyayābhavā” pūrṇa-cit sukham

28. Having known one’s nature one abides
As being with no beginning and no end
In unbroken consciousness and bliss.

Importantly, this state is to be ‘abided in’, for want of better wording, meaning that we are not to be attracted to sense-objects and become involved with thoughts and feelings and things and so give birth to the mind (see verse 16 and commentary), but to remain in Truth as Truth, as BEING-AWARENESS (sat-chit) devoid of any objects, which is known as BLISS (written as sukha here, which means happiness in Sanskrit, often called ananda, which also means happiness.)

29. बन्धमुक्त्यतीतं परं सुखम् ।
विन्दतीह जीवस्तु दैविकः ॥ २९॥

bandha muktyatītaṃ paraṃ sukham
vindatīhajī vastu daivikaḥ

29. Beyond bondage and release,
Is steadfastness
In service of the Lord.

Again, like in verse 28, verse 29 implies a continuance in remaining in this stateless state which is transcendent to both liberation and bondage, which are both to do with phenomenal existence. In verse 28 the language of knowledge is used, ‘Having known one’s nature…’. here in verse 29 the language of devotion is used. In verse 10 Ramana has already told us that true devotion and true knowledge are simply to abide as sat-chit-ananda devoid of adjuncts or phenomena, so this is written here poetically as ‘steadfast service of the Lord’. Continue to abide as the Self, that which is beyond dualities of liberation and bondage, that in which there is no change, that which is the nature of ‘unbroken consciousness and bliss’ (verse 28).

30. अहमपेतकं निजविभानकम् ।
महदिदंतपो रमनवागियम् ॥ ३०॥

aham-apetakaṃ nija-vibhānakam
mahadidaṃ tapo ramaṇa vāgiyam

30. All ego gone,
Living as that alone
Is penance good for growth,
Sings Ramana, the Self.

Remaining as the Self, that in which there is no ego, is the only way to Moksha. It is the culmination of the path of devotion, knowledge, yoga and action. It is the highest Knowledge and highest Devotion.

To abide as the self, that is devoid of objects, that is of the nature sat-chit-sukha, until the ego is destroyed never to arise again (cf. verses 13-15) is Moksha (liberation) itself.

So says Guru Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.

 

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

!Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya Om!

Shankara: 4 things you need to do in order to attain spiritual liberation (the 4 Qualifications according to Advaita Vedanta)

There are many ways to liberation, and all true paths join together in the end. In the Advaita Vedanta framework, 4 attributes or qualities are required to be developed before one can sufficiently progress on the path of Jnana or Enquiry.

In Vivekachudamani

In Shankara’s Vivekachudamani he outlines four practices or qualifications (sadhana catustaya)  that are required in order for liberation to successfully occur. First he lists the qualifications, and then he explains each one in turn.

I’ve noticed there are a small but growing number teachers of Vedanta who claim to be traditional teachers but they change the definitions of the qualifications and so alter the meaning of the teachings to suit different ends. These teachers tend to downplay the need for prolongued meditation on the Self, whereas the actual Vedanta texts and true traditional teachers of Vedanta tend to emphasise this.

So, as always, it pays to read the source texts for yourself and learn how the teachings were originally defined if you want to understand the original intentions of the Vedanta teachings. As usual, my comments are in red:

Shankara states there are 4 things that are required to attain liberation. More than that, he states that without these 4 things, liberation will not be attained. So let us learn about these 4 qualifications and how they are defined:

18. Regarding this, sages have spoken of four means of attainment, which alone being present, the devotion to Brahman succeeds, and in the absence of which, it fails.

19. First is enumerated discrimination between the Real and the unreal; next comes aversion to the enjoyment of fruits (of one’s actions) here and hereafter; (next is) the group of six attributes, viz. calmness and the rest; and (last) is clearly the yearning for Liberation.

Traditionally the 4 Qualifications are:
(1) Viveka or discrimination
(2) Vairagya or dispassion
(3) Samadi-satka-sampatti or the six disciplines consisting of Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha and Samadhana in which the mind is progressively withdrawn from the sense objects and focused onto the pure sense of being (‘Sat’ or ‘Pure Brahman’)
(4) Mumuksutva or the yearning for liberation.

Shankara also adds a further qualification – the most important in his view – Bhakti, or devotion, which he defines in verse 31 as seeking or turning away from what is unreal (defined in the next verse) and turning towards one’s True Nature.

20. A firm conviction of the mind to the effect that Brahman is real and the universe unreal, is designated as discrimination (Viveka) between the Real and the unreal.

This is a clear definition of viveka that forms the foundation for the rest of the qualifications. Next Shankara defines vairagya in a very absolute way, which is essentially renunciation of all worldly objects ranging from the everyday to desires to be reborn in the heavenly realm of Brahma (the creator-deity who resides in heaven).

21. Vairagya or renunciation is the desire to give up all transitory enjoyments (ranging) from those of an (animate) body to those of Brahmahood (having already known their defects) from observation, instruction and so forth.

The notion is that because all such worldly or heavenly objects are transient, they will eventually go and therefore not lead to the eternal ever-existing peace of Brahman or Moksha.

In another text called Aparokshanunhuti, Shankara describes Vairagya as follows in verse 4: ‘The indifference with which one treats the excreta of a crow – such an indifference to all objects of enjoyment from the realm of Brahma to this world (in view of their perishable nature), is verily called pure Vairagya.’

Verses 22-25 will outline the 6 disciplines of Shama, Dama, Uparati, Titiksha, Shraddha and Samadhana. We can see that the gist of the 6 disciplines is to turn away from objects and the world and turn towards the Self:

22. The resting of the mind steadfastly on its Goal (viz. Brahman) after having detached itself from manifold sense-objects by continually observing their defects, is called Shama or calmness.

In Aparokshanunhuti Shankara  in verse 6 writes: ‘Abandonment of desires at all times is called Shama‘.

23. Turning both kinds of sense-organs away from sense-objects and placing them in their respective centres, is called Dama or self-control. The best Uparati or self- withdrawal consists in the mind-function ceasing to be affected by external objects.

24. The bearing of all afflictions without caring to redress them, being free (at the same time) from anxiety or lament on their score, is called Titiksha or forbearance.

25. Acceptance by firm judgement as true of what the Scriptures and the Guru instruct, is called by sages Shraddha or faith, by means of which the Reality is perceived.

26. Not the mere indulgence of thought (in curiosity) but the constant concentration of the intellect (or the affirming faculty) on the ever-pure Brahman, is what is called Samadhana or self-settledness.

Shama is an initial detachment from sense objects after contemplating how impermanent objects cannot give rise to (permanent) liberation. Dama is about withdrawing the sense organs from sense-objects and also reducing one’s activities in the world (‘both kinds’ refer to the sense organs and organs of action). Uparati is when the mind is no longer affected by objects at all.

We can see that Shama, Dama and Uparati represent a step-wise sequence in practicing different levels of vairagya (dispassion) which culminates in Samadhana, which is defined as constant concentration on Brahman devoid of objects as opposed to mere curiosity towards Brahman. We know that the Brahman spoken of is devoid of objects due to the above definitions of Shama, Dama and Uparati. This is further made clear by the verse quotes in Aporokshanubhuti below in which it is stated that the mind should be made to focus on ‘Sat’ (existence).

Titiksha and Shraddha are aids to this sequential process of introversion, which we could call Bhakti or svasvarupanusandhanam (see verse 31 below).

27. Mumukshutva or yearning for Freedom is the desire to free oneself, by realising one’s true nature, from all bondages from that of egoism to that of the body – bondages superimposed by Ignorance.

Shankara now talks of 3 grades of mumukshutva: low, medium and high. If the desire for liberation is low-to-medium, one is to cultivate vairagya and the 6 disciplines. Then the desire for liberation will increase:

28. Even though torpid or mediocre, this yearning for Freedom, through the grace of the Guru, may bear fruit (being developed) by means of Vairagya (renunciation), Shama (calmness), and so on.

If the desire for liberation is high, then the goal will be attained:

29. In his case, verily, whose renunciation and yearning for Freedom are intense, calmness and the other practices have (really) their meaning and bear fruit.

If the desire for liberation is low, then all this is mere superficiality and liberation will (likely) not result:

30. Where (however) this renunciation and yearning for Freedom are torpid, there calmness and the other practices are as mere appearances, like water in a desert.

Lastly Shankara extolls the magnificence of Bhakti, and defines it as ‘svasvarupanusandhanam’, which can be translated as striving to seek one’s nature or constantly turning towards one’s nature.

31. Among things conducive to Liberation, devotion (Bhakti) holds the supreme place. The seeking after one’s real nature is designated as devotion.

Interestingly Sri Ramana Maharshi was asked about the nature of svasvarupanusandhanam in Talks 642, and he stated that it referred to atma vichara or Self-enquiry itself. In Aparokshanunhuti verse 11 Shankara writes: ‘Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than Vichara [ie. enquiry], just as an object is nowhere perceived (seen) without the help of light.


In Aparokshanunhuti

In his text Aparokshanunhuti, Shankara explains the same 4 qualifications (sadhana catustaya) in a more punchy way in verses 4-11:

4. The indifference with which one treats the excreta of a crow – such an indifference to all objects of enjoyment from the realm of Brahma to this world (in view of their  perishable nature), is verily called pure Vairagya.

5. Atman (the seer) in itself is alone permanent, the seen is opposed to it (ie., transient) – such a settled conviction is truly known as discrimination.

6. Abandonment of desires at all times is called Shama and restraint of the external functions of the organs is called Dama.

7. Turning away completely from all sense-objects is the height of Uparati, and patient endurance of all sorrow or pain is known as Titiksha which is conducive to happiness.

8. Implicit faith in the words of the Vedas and the teachers (who interpret them) is known as Shraddha, and concentration of the mind on the only object Sat (i.e. Brahman) is regarded as Samadhana.

9. When and how shall I, O Lord, be free from the bonds of this world (i.e., births and deaths) – such a burning desire is called Mumukshutva.

10. Only that person who is in possession of the said qualifications (as means to Knowledge) should constantly reflect with a view to attaining Knowledge, desiring his own good.

11. Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than Vichara, just as an object is nowhere perceived (seen) without the help of light.

Jivanmukti Viveka – The path to liberation in this life by Swami Vidyaranya

Vidyaranya Swami (1296-1386), author of the wonderful Advaita Vedanta text Panchadasi and Shankaracharya (head monk) of Sringeri Math, wrote another less well known text called Jivanmukti Viveka. In it he, in some considerable detail, outlines the path to Jivanmukti, or liberation in this life.

In Chapter 2 he repeatedly makes the point that liberation or jnana cannot occur without both manonasa (destruction of the mind) and vasana kshaya (destruction of the habitual tendencies).

We shall now address ourselves to the means which lead to Jivanmukti (Liberation in this Life). These are Jnana, manonasa and vasana-kshaya.

He states that these three should be practised simultaneously. Throughout this text he quotes extensively from many authoritative texts to back up his view, this time quoting from the wonderful Yoga Vasishta:

Hence, in the Yoga Vasishta, Vasishta says, while dealing with The Body of the Jivanmukta at the end of the Chapter on Supreme Pacification: ‘Oh best of intellects vasasa-Kshaya, Jnana and Manonasa, attended to simultaneously for sufficient length of time, bear the desired fruit…

Vidyaranya then quotes again from Yoga Vasishta emphasising the need to practice these three for and extended period of time:

‘Until these three are not well attended to with sufficient and repeated trials, the Condition [Jivanmukti] can never be realised,  even at the end of a hundred years.’

Here are some more quotes from Chapter 2 of Jivanmukti Viveka:

vidyaranyajnana28knowledge29tooisimpossibleunlessthemindisentirelyatrest

vidyaranyajnananevercomesaboutwithoutvasanakshaya

vidyaranyathemindshouldbepreventedfromfunctioning

brihadaranyakaupdesirelessisbrahman

Vidyaranya no mind.png