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Tapovan Prasad 10 January 2008

Mahavakya
Viveka – 1
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Inadequacy of Words
Every philosophy has to
discuss and expound the expe-
rience of the great mystics. The
language of the mystics is not
the language of the ordinary
man; the thoughts of the mystics
are not the thoughts of the
average man. Subtle mystical
experiences and pure philoso-
phy are difficult to understand.
Without special training and
preparation, not only is it
impossible to benefit from the
study of such philosophy, but
there is also the danger of being
confused. Language is made up
of words, and words are fami-
liar to us. When the mystic
teachers try to explain their spe-
cial Knowledge with ordinary
words, we are likely to under-
stand only the word meaning
and get the entire idea wrong.
Therefore Vedänta Çästra in its
highest reaches can be taught
only to those students who have
undergone the special training
necessary for it. Now we are
going to approach one of the
highest peaks of Vedänta, called
We have great pleasure in presenting this new series
of articles from Pujya Gurudev’s talks on Panchadasi Ch. 5
in 1964. We acknowledge with gratitude the contribution of
Smt. Lakshmi Reddy, who procured and preserved the
recorded spools carefully, Dr. Suhasini, who got them
converted into CDs, Sri G.B. Bhatia, who replicated them
and brought them to our notice and Smt. Devna Nandakumar,
who transcribed them with loving care. Tapovan Prasad is
privileged to carry these articles in print for the first time.
– The Editorial Team
Tapovan Prasad 11 January 2008
the Mahäväkyas. Swami Vidya-
ranya, the author of Panchadasi,
has not gone into the deeper
significance of the Mahäväkyas
in the way it is discussed in the
Brahma Sutras. He has confined
himself to the definitions of the
words used in these great
declarations of the Vedas for the
sake of beginners. However,
even to understand these verses
and digest the meaning, a
certain amount of fundamental
knowledge is required. So we
have to prepare ourselves to
receive this Knowledge.
Swami Vidyaranya
Swami Vidyaranya, the
mighty diplomat-saint, who was
the prime minister of the
Vijayanagar empire, lived his
entire lifetime in activity in the
world outside, and achieved
what an ordinary man could not
even dream of in those days –
in the political field, in the field
of military might, in the field of
administration and in the field
of writing. He was an ardent
student of literature; not only
did he write books, but also
mastered our philosophy, had
satsaìg every day, and with the
help of other Acharyas and
scholars, mastered the Vedas
and Vedäntic literature, until at
last he could even write a
commentary on all the four
Vedas. This commentary is so
good that there is a traditional
story about how he went to
Benaras after his retirement, and
had the darçan of Veda Vyasa
on the banks of the Ganga,
offered him the manuscript of
his commentary on the Vedas
and said, “Sir! Glad that I met
you. Please go through this
work and tell me whether it is
worth publishing – whether it
is blasphemous, whether I have
understood the Vedas properly,
because after all I have had a
lot of official duties continually,
and therefore did not have the
kind of single-pointed attention
necessary for the study of the
Tapovan Prasad 12 January 2008
Upanishads or the Vedas. You are
Veda Vyasa himself, so please
have a look and tell me.” It is
said that Veda Vyasa looked
into it and in one sitting read
through the entire commentary,
with probably a blue pencil in
hand to cut out a few pages, but
it seems that he did not change
even a comma or a full-stop.
Therefore it is said that Veda
Vyasa himself, out of sheer
admiration, called this mighty
master ‘Vidyaranya’ – a forest
of knowledge.
Later on, after his saànyäsa
dékñä, having been recognised as
one of the spiritual masters,
great thinkers and erudite
scholars in this country, he was
invited to be the Pontiff, the
Chief Acharya of the Sringeri
Math. Thus he remained the
Sringeri Sankaracharya for
many years, and his samädhi
sthäna near the temple is avai-
lable even today in Sringeri.
This great master was not a
person who had studied only
the Vedas and closed his eyes to
the society; he was an adept in
political administration, was
one of the greatest diplomats of
his time, who had lots of duties
to discharge. Having exhausted
his väsanäs of rajoguëa in his
busy life, he turned to the sättvic
life of a saànyäsé, and in his
maturity, wrote the book
Panchadasi.
Panchadasi
Panchadasi means fifteen,
païca is five, and daça ten. It is
a book containing fifteen chap-
ters. In Panchadasi, Swami
Vidyaranya is not discussing the
Vedas, nor is he discussing any
of the other topics he has
written on, like the duties of
man in society, the society’s
duty towards man etc. Here he
has discussed only the great
prakriyas, the technical terms
used in the Upanishads. He has
expounded them in such a
beautiful fashion that it has
become in itself a textbook of
Vedänta. There are many people
who study only the Panchadasi,
with the elaborate commentar-
ies available from later teachers,
in order to understand the
Upanishadic philosophy clearly
and appreciate the deeper
meanings of our Scriptures and
our culture. Panchadasi is
generally taught in the begin-
ning before the student starts
the study of the Upanishads.
After teaching all the eleven
Upanishads with the bhäñyas by
Shankaracharya, Ramanuja-
charya, or Madhvacharya, the
teacher takes up the Panchadasi
again as a concluding text. Then
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the student finds that with the
first reading of the Panchadasi
he had understood only certain
technical terms, while the
deeper imports of the Upani-
shads become clear when it is
studied again at the end. It
throws a flood of light on all
the Upanishads studied earlier.
In this book we are going to
study the fifth chapter, called
Mahäväkya Prakarana.
Mahäväkyas
In the Vedas there are väkyas,
meaning sentences. Sentences
are made up of words express-
ing rounded ideas. So väkya is a
sentence expressing a clear
definite idea. A Mahäväkya is
literally ‘a great statement’; it
holds an importance compa-
rable to what is called ‘a com-
mandment’ in other religions.
There are four great command-
ments in Hinduism, and they
are explained by the four Vedas.
So all the Upanishads as well as
the Vedas, all the text books
available in our Çästras, are
explanations of this one mighty
Truth. The sentences that depict
this Truth directly in the form
of a mantra with minimum
words, indicating the Reality of
life, are called Mahäväkyas.
These Mahäväkyas are culled
from the four Vedas – the
Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the
Samaveda, and the Atharvana-
veda. In each Veda there are
Upanishads, and these mighty
statements occur in the Upani-
shads. Each one is taken from
one Veda; thus from the four
Vedas four statements are taken.
These four statements explain
the great Reality behind this
pluralistic world that we find so
fascinatingly beautiful. Further,
when the teacher explains to us
what the Reality is, he also has
to explain what we are at this
moment.
The Non-dual Truth
Not only is the essential
Reality in us to be indicated, but
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the mightier Reality behind the
whole universe is also to be
explained, and the relationship
between the two pointed out.
Vedänta, as you all know,
preaches advaita, which means
‘dvaitaà na vidyate – where there
is no dvaita (duality)’, no other-
ness, and no multiplicity. Adi
Sankaracharya championed the
idea of non-duality. The Truth
is non-dual, meaning infinite,
and therefore pürëa.
1
When we
say pürëa, we mean full, all-
pervading, subtle, and so on. It
is deça käla vastu aparicchinnaù –
unconditioned by place, time,
and objects. That which is
conditioned or limited is not
pürëa. My happiness is not
pürëa, because there is one thing
I worry about; that worry is
conditioning my happiness, and
so my happiness is not pürëa.
The word pürëa is used only
when the given factor is not
conditioned by anything. Thus,
if there is a pürëa vastu, a Rea-
lity, as the Upanishadic Rishis in
their mystic experiences
discovered and expounded to
us, then the Reality in me
cannot be different from that
Infinite Reality, because there
cannot be two such Realities
that are non-dual!
Projections of the Mind
This great substratum upon
which the names and forms are
playing about is explained in
Chandogya Upanishad
2
–‘väcäram-
bhaëaà vikäro nämadheyaà
måttiketyeva satyam’ – all modi-
fications are only words and
labels, mud or clay alone is the
Reality. The Rishi is explaining
to Shvetaketu that there is only
one Self; the various names and
forms that are seen are nothing
but the one Brahman alone. They
are merely words and labels for
different functions. They are all
vikära – modifications of one
1
pürëamadaù pürëamidam – Ishavasya
Upanishad
2
Chandogya Upanishad, 6.1.4
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and the same Truth. The pots
are of different shapes and sizes;
they have different names, like
a bowl, a jug, a jar, a pot, or a
plate. These names indicate only
the different forms and the
different usages of a thing, but
they are all essentially nothing
but mud, and mud alone. Simi-
larly, in the ocean, whether it is
a big wave, a mere ripple, froth,
or foam – all of them are
nothing but the ocean, the one
Reality. This Reality is
expressed in different forms,
which are none other than the
names of those distinct forms.
The essential Reality is one and
the same. Using these examples,
all our great Acharyas of yore
tried to explain that you and I
in the names and forms are
nothing else but the Pure
Consciousness.
This is explained clearly in
the later portions of Vivekachoo-
damani where the Teacher says
that matter is not separate from
Reality. In the beginning of
Vivekachoodamani, as also in
Atma Bodha, it is said that we
have the equipments of the
body, mind and intellect,
through which, when the spirit
functions, there is the manifes-
tation of PFT (perceiver, feeler,
thinker) and OET (objects,
emotions, thoughts). The
Teacher says that the very PFT
and the OET that you see
because of the BMI (body, mind,
intellect) is only because of a
projection of the mind. Saìkalpa
vikalpätmikä manaù – the func-
tion of the mind is saìkalpa-
vikalpa. Kalpanä means imagina-
tion and projection. When this
kalpanä is very intense and
powerful, the thoughts you
imagine are projected and
grossified in the world outside
like the ghost that you see in
fear. It is a kalpanä. This kalpanä
can be removed easily if it is a
very thin kalpanä – ‘I thought
that it was a ghost. No, it is
nothing after all.’ Here the
kalpanä was not strong. But
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some people have the kalpanä so
powerfully that the object of
their imagination is conjured up
right in front of them. After the
saìkalpa, when I have projected
some thought with the mind, I
perceive the object and identify
with it and, as a result, experi-
ence mental disturbances. These
are called vikalpa. Thus vikalpas
are subjective, while saìkalpas
are objective. Saìkalpas are the
objective projections of our
imagination, and the vikalpas are
our own imaginations rebound-
ing upon us, causing distur-
bance in the mind. Thus the
mind is of the nature of saìkalpa
and vikalpa.
The mind projects not only
the objects of perception OET,
but also the very equipments of
projection, the BMI. If anyone
tells us that this body is only a
projection of the mind, we will
not believe it because we have
identified with it so much that
we do not know any existence
beyond the realm of the body.
Only those who identify with
the subtler realms in their
personality can ignore the body
– like a great warrior in the
moment of action, a person in
the midst of organising a big
event, or one who is ready to
give up his life for some great
ideal. If you ask him, “Aren’t
you taking a big risk? You may
even die in the process,” he
would say, “How does it mat-
ter? The ideal will remain.” He
has identified with the ideal;
therefore the body is insignifi-
cant for him. Thus we see that
the very equipments of experi-
ence, the BMI, are also a projec-
tion of the mind. Therefore,
when you come face to face
with the Truth, when you
understand the post in the
ghost, none of the pieces of the
ghost can ever be there in the
post! The ghost does not run
away leaving its kerchief
behind! It is not possible. Not a
bit of the ghost can ever be there
once you recognise the post. The
post alone remains. Similarly,
when I understand the Eternal
Tapovan Prasad 17 January 2008
Reality, all these projections will
end. All imaginations and
imagination-created distur-
bances will end, and nothing
but the Pure Consciousness will
remain. This is the väda, the
argument, or the conclusion of
the advaita philosophy.
Objections of the
Dvaitins
The dvaitins find it very
difficult to accept this. When the
teachers explain the prakriyas
and say that the jéva or the indi-
viduality is created as a result
of the pure spirit functioning
through the BMI, the dvaitins
accept it easily. They say, “O
Sankara! You are not saying
anything new. You are only
saying that matter cannot
function by itself. It is inert and
insentient and can function only
by the grace of the Lord, and
the Lord is in the heart of
everybody. You call that Lord
of ours by a new word ‘Ätman’.
We have no objection at all. And
that Ätman, functioning through
the equipments, identifying
with the body, mind and intel-
lect, is the manifestation of the
individuality and the world
around. Admitted! But O
Sankara! Are you not now
accepting two factors – Ätman,
the Self that is the source of all
functions and all activity; and
the equipments constituted of
dead matter through which
there is the manifestation of the
world and the individuality?
How can you call it ‘advaita’
philosophy? It is actually dvaita,
because there are two things –
the world of matter and the
Spirit that you call one without
a second. It cannot be ‘one with-
out a second’ because matter
has to be there for the spirit to
function.”
Sankara and the Vedäntins
concede the existence of matter,
but say that matter is nothing
but an imaginary projection of
the mind, and therefore
transcending the mind, when
one reaches the level of the
spirit, matter is no more. When
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the dream is ended, not only
does the dreamer become the
waker, but the entire world of
OET is also understood to be
nothing but the waker. Here the
dvaitins ask whether the
advaitins deny the existence of
Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh-
wara. “You say that there is no
matter at all in Brahman. But
isn’t there a God?” The Vedän-
tins say that God is also that
same Supreme Reality function-
ing through the total equip-
ments of the body, mind and
intellect – the samañöi. When the
Supreme functions through the
total physical equipments, the
gross body (sthüla çaréräbhimäné),
it is called Viräö. When the
Supreme functions through the
total mind and intellect, the
subtle body, it is called
Hiraëyagarbha. When the total
infinite Consciousness functions
through the total causal body,
the expression is called Éçvara.
Thus Éçvara, Hiraëyagarbha and
Viräö are all expressions of the
same infinite Consciousness
through the total equipment.
When the samañöi and the vyañöi,
the macrocosmic and the
microcosmic equipments, are
removed, what remains is the
Infinite Reality, One without a
second – the Infinite Oneness
alone. Even Éçvara or the concept
of God is the conditioned Brah-
man alone, facilitating the mind
to conceive the possibility of
these infinite, mighty powers.
Thus, when the Infinite is
perceived through the limited
equipments of the body, mind
and intellect, it can be conceived
only as Brahma, Vishnu and
Maheshwara – the mighty
Creator, Sustainer and De-
stroyer of the world of plura-
lity. However, once I under-
stand that the plurality is
nothing but the Pure Conscious-
ness, there is no question of a
Sustainer any more, nor a
Creator or a Destroyer. What
can the Creator create, the
Sustainer sustain, or the
Destroyer destroy when all is
but the Pure Consciousness?
This one Infinite Reality alone
remains. This is the advaita
conclusion.
Preparation for the Study
Naturally, therefore, the
experience of the mystic is
totally opposed to our experi-
ences of the pluralistic world.
His experience of life as pure,
blissful, serene, and tranquil is
quite opposed to our experience
of life as a field of strife and
competition, a world of pains
and pangs. Naturally, when
these great Acharyas express
Tapovan Prasad 19 January 2008
their infinite experience in the
language of the common man,
people understand only the
ordinary meaning of the words;
they are unable to comprehend
the indicative meaning of the
words pointing out the Supreme
Reality. So the Mahäväkyas need
the commentary of the Upani-
shads, and they in turn need the
elaborate bhäñyas (commenta-
ries) by Sankaracharya, Rama-
nujacharya, Madhvacharya and
other Acharyas. People find it
difficult to understand these
commentaries also; so there are
notes on the commentaries, and
people like us move about in the
world to explain those notes.
We merely explain the foot-
notes! Footnotes are to explain
the commentaries of Sankara,
Ramanuja and Madhvacharya;
commentaries are to explain the
Upanishads, which themselves
are only expounding the ideas
in the Mahäväkyas, and it is
those Mahäväkyas that we are
going to study now. Naturally,
therefore, we will have to skip
over the footnotes as well as the
commentary and go into the
Upanishads and jump over the
mantras and try to understand
what is the significance of the
Mahäväkyas. If the Mahäväkyas
are to be studied properly, you
should have mastered all the
Upanishads. Their statements
must be on the tip of your
tongue. You can understand the
full import of the Mahäväkyas
only if you know fully and
remember perfectly all the
Upanishads and the great state-
ments the way the Rishis have
expounded them in the
Upanishads. If you don’t under-
stand the Mahäväkyas fully, I
would not hold you at fault,
because having understood the
Mahäväkyas there is nothing
more for you to understand.
Since we have not reached that
far, we may not understand all
the significances, but we will try
to understand a little at least,
assuming that we have studied
the Upanishads sufficiently.
G
Tapovan Prasad 11 October 2008
Mahavakya
Viveka – 10
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
I
n this chapter on Mahäväkya
Viveka in the Panchadasi, the
first six verses were devoted to
the Mahäväkyas from the Rig-
veda, Yajurveda and Samaveda
respectively (two verses each).
In the last two verses, the
Mahäväkya – ‘ayaà ätmä brahma’
– from the Mandukya Upanishad
in Atharvanaveda is explained.
This is called the mukti-väkya,
the three words clearly de-
lineating Liberation: ayam – this,
ätmä – Ätman, brahma – (is)
Brahman.
This is a moment when the
individual becomes mukta –
liberated. The individual per-
sonality discovers its identity
with the universal Conscious-
ness. Such a person is no more
a victim of the passions of the
body, the anxieties of the mind,
or the agitations of the intellect.
At present, the individuality in
me, conditioned by the BMI
(body-mind-intellect), is func-
tioning as an ego-centric entity,
tossed about by the endless
demands of the body, mind and
the intellect. When the indivi-
dual’s identification with these
equipments comes to an end, he
is naturally released from the
demands and the imperfections
of these equipments. This un-
conditioned pure Consciousness
in an individual is Brahman:
‘ayaà ätmä brahma – This Ätman
is Brahman.’
Tapovan Prasad 12 October 2008
Mahäväkya Viveka
Verse 7
F49TlHl9¹l ¬t4 H4|Pt4 |±6l P6 ·
HrTl¹l|7 7 rl-6l6
9t4¬ltP |6 ¬l46 +
svaprakäçäparokñatvam
ayamityuktito mataà,
ahaìkärädi dehäntät
pratyagätmeti géyate.
The word ‘this’ (ayam) refers to
the self-effulgent and subjective
nature of the Self. That which is the
innermost from the individual ego
up to the body is known as the Self.
Svaprakäça means self-
effulgent. The self-effulgent
pure Consciousness is the light
that illumines all our experi-
ences within and outside our
body. It is not the physical light
which is an object of our
Consciousness. In fact, it is the
Consciousness which illumines
even this external light per-
ceived by us. The famous mantra
that occurs both in Katho-
panishad (2.5.15) and Mundako-
panishad (2.2.10) explains this
point clearly:
+ 6× B 4l ¬l|6 + ¬-ã6l¹T
+ Pl |4H 6l ¬l|-6 T 6l 54P|P-·
6P 4 ¬l-6P+ ¬l|6 B4
6F4 ¬lBl B4 |P7 |4¬l|6+
na tatra süryo bhäti na candra-tärakaà
nemä vidyuto bhänti kuto’yamagniù,
tameva bhäntam-anubhäti sarvaà
tasya bhäsä sarvamidaà vibhäti.
Neither the sun nor the moon
shines there, neither the stars nor
the lightning shine, how then can
this fire? Everything shines after
that Light (of the Self) alone;
illumined by that Light all this shines.
The sun cannot shine in the
overpowering light of the Self
(Ätman), just as the flame of a
candle cannot shine in the bri-
lliance of sunlight. So also, the
moon, the stars and lightning
cannot shine in the presence of
the self-effulgent Consciousness.
Electricity cannot show its
wonders there. How then can
Tapovan Prasad 13 October 2008
this small fire – the lamp or
burning camphor with which
we worship the Lord – illumine
Him?
The sunlight can only
illumine the surface of objects;
it cannot illumine the insides of
the objects, leave alone the
Consciousness within us that
illumines everything else. We
become aware of the sunlight
only because of the light of
Consciousness in us. That which
illumines even the sun must be
much more powerful than the
sun.
Further, our five senses that
illumine the objects of the world
outside cannot illumine the
Consciousness within. In fact,
our experiences gathered
through the senses are made
vividly clear only by the light
of Consciousness. All the expe-
riences – good, bad or indiffer-
ent – are illumined only by the
supreme Awareness in each one
of us. Whenever I say that I
have an experience of joy or
sorrow, of good or bad, I am
conscious of that joy or sorrow,
that goodness or badness. Thus,
where there is Consciousness,
there alone experience is
possible; in the absence of
Consciousness, experience is not
possible.
This Awareness or Con-
sciousness that illumines all
experiences is the pure Self. It
is generally indicated by words
like prakäça (Light) and caitanya
(Consciousness). People often
misunderstand this as physical
light and say that they see a
brilliant light in their medita-
tion! This is what happens when
one studies the Shastras without
the help of a Guru.
The Puranas use poetic ex-
pressions like ‘a thousand suns’
to explain this subtle idea of
supreme Consciousness to the
ordinary person. This is how
the glory of Vishnu is described
when he appeared in front of
Dhruva. With such a back-
ground, when you meditate,
Tapovan Prasad 14 October 2008
naturally you see a blinding
light! Someone told me that the
light came from the right and
floated away to the left! How
can the all-pervading Brahman
come from the right and go
away to the left? Think! Who
saw the light that came float-
ing? It was the light of Con-
sciousness that lit up the whole
scene.
In the Quran also the Lord is
described as Light. However, it
is not the light of the sun or the
moon or the star or the crescent.
It is the Light of lights –
jyotiñämapitajjyotiù tamasaù
paramucyate (Gita, 13.7). This
Light illumines all light as well
as darkness. Worldly light
cannot illumine darkness; it just
removes darkness. ‘Conscious-
ness’ or ‘Awareness’ is the light
by which I come to know that
in this room there is light and
in that room there is darkness.
Both light and darkness are the
objects of my Consciousness.
Consciousness is the subtle
light which can illumine dark-
ness without removing or
adding anything. A torch cannot
illumine the lights in the hall
where we are sitting, and to see
the darkness a torch is not
necessary. In fact, where a torch
is lit, there is no darkness.
Darkness cannot be seen by any
light. The sunlight cannot
illumine darkness. It is the limi-
tation of sunlight! It has never
seen darkness, because wher-
ever the sun is present, there can
be no darkness. But our Con-
sciousness is so subtle that it can
see both light and darkness.
I am conscious of the sun-
light. Therefore the Conscious-
ness in me must be much more
brilliant than the sunlight. The
Upanishads often use the word
prakäça (Light) to describe the
Ätman, and we must understand
the full import of this word.
Modern science explains light
energy, its frequency etc. in the
context of sunlight, lightning,
fire and other such phenomena.
For all other lights, there is a
cause. But Consciousness is self-
Tapovan Prasad 15 October 2008
effulgent; it is not caused by
anything. By its very nature it
is the illuminator of everything
– svaprakäça. It is not created,
but is the very cause from which
everything else has emerged.
Everything else in the universe
is an effect; this is the first cause,
the uncaused cause!
How can we see the self-
effulgent Consciousness, the
svaprakäça paramätmä? That
which is an effect can be
recognised. We can make it an
object of our awareness.
Paramätmä is not an object of
awareness, but Awareness itself.
If I were to go searching for
Swami Chinmayananda, with
the sole ambition to prostrate to
him, then wherever I go, what-
ever I do, I will certainly be
disappointed. I can never meet
Swami Chinmayananda, be-
cause he is not an object other
than me. It is I myself! So, even
when I am dejected and dis-
appointed at not having met
him, Swami Chinmayananda is
never far away from me. So
also, we desperately seek this
self-effulgent Consciousness
everywhere; we search for the
svaprakäça paramätmä in Kashi,
Badrinath, Mecca, Madina or
Jerusalem, without realising that
He is our very own Self!
The svaprakäça paramätmä is
aparokña – we can only realise
Him subjectively as our own
Self. Akñam means eyes, and para
means others; so parokñam is
knowledge through others’
eyes; it is second-hand informa-
tion or objective knowledge.
Aparokñam means subjective
realisation. When all the excite-
ments of the body, mind and
intellect are quietened, in the
hushed silence of contempla-
tion, this pure Consciousness
becomes self-evident. We wake
into ‘It’. A dreamer can never
be taken to the waker; even if
the dreamer sees the waker, he
is not awakened because he still
believes that he is the dreamer,
and the dream conditions of
sorrow are his. If at all he
realises the waker, he becomes
Tapovan Prasad 16 October 2008
the waker, and the dreamer is
no more. The dreamer awakes
to another plane of conscious-
ness, discovering himself to be
the waker.
Similarly, this svaprakäça
paramätmä can be known only
through a subjective, direct
experience, because it is the
very subject in you, and not an
object. It can never be the object
of your sense organs, or of the
mind, or of the intellect. It is not
a thing that can be perceived by
the eyes or the ears or the nose
or the tongue or the skin. It is
not something that we can feel
with our heart or the mind. It is
not something that we can
intellectually understand and
comprehend.
When the BMI (body-mind-
intellect) drops its entangle-
ments, its attachment and pre-
occupation with the OET
(objects-emotions-thoughts),
then the PFT (perceiver-feeler-
thinker) ends; the individuality
ends. And that is the moment
when we float into the ethereal
climbs of this inner sense of
tranquillity. It is a direct appre-
hension, direct becoming. That
is why the word ‘ayam’ (this) is
used: ‘ayaà ätmä brahma’ – this
Ätmä is Brahman, the Reality. It
is indicated as ‘this’ because it
is aparokña, it is the nearest to
you, not a far off thing.
God is not in a heaven far
away, ruling the world like a
tyrant. He is democratic, avai-
lable to every one of us as our
very Self. In fact, He is so near
to us that we ignore Him. We
do not recognise Him. Gene-
rally, we use the word ‘that’ to
indicate something far away,
and ‘this’ to refer to something
relatively nearer. The absolute
‘this’, with reference to which
everything else is ‘that’, is the
Self – ayaà ätmä.
This svaprakäça paramätmä is
the antarätmä, the innermost Self
in us. It is closer than the body,
the mind, the intellect and the
innermost väsanäs. The body,
the five sense organs, the
emotions and thoughts cannot
Tapovan Prasad 17 October 2008
fathom the very subject, the
Consciousness that enlivens
them all. Hence it is called
pratyagätmä– the inner Self.
One may ask why it is called
the ‘inner Self’ when it is actu-
ally the all-pervading Con-
sciousness. The Teacher, in his
compassion, knows that the
student thinks of himself as the
BMI (body-mind-intellect), a
separate individual entity at this
moment, and in order to make
him understand, refers to the
all-pervading Consciousness as
the antarätmä or pratyagätmä –
the innermost Self. ‘Inner’ and
‘outer’ are only in relation to the
equipment of BMI with which
the student is identifying him-
self. Though the Ätmä is all-
pervading, immutable, one
without a second (advaita vastu),
with reference to the student’s
own projections, his own
familiar realm of experiences
and equipments of experience,
the Teacher calls the Self the
‘innermost’, meaning the core,
the very essential pivot around
which the païcakoças
1
(the five
sheaths) function.
The student may still be
doubtful how he can know this
Consciousness when all the
objects and equipments he is
familiar with are removed.
Consciousness is self-effulgent,
and no other light is necessary
to illumine it. To know the sun
no other sun is necessary. To see
a burning lamp, no other light
is necessary – na dépasya anya
dépecchä.
2
To know other objects,
to read a book, to see a table or
a chair, a light is necessary.
But the light continues to shine
even when all of them and all
of us are gone. Similarly, the
supreme self-effulgent Ätmä
continues to shine. It can be
experienced only subjectively,
by becoming the very Self -
ayaà ätmä brahma.
1
annamaya, präëamaya, manomaya,
vijïänamaya and änandamaya koça.
2
Atma Bodha, verse 29 G
Tapovan Prasad 8 February 2008
Mahavakya
Viveka – 2
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
T
he Mahäväkyas that point
out the Great Reality, the
Supreme Truth, are discussed in
eight verses in the fifth chapter
of the Panchadasi. Titled Maha-
vakya Viveka, it is the smallest
chapter in the Panchadasi. The
Mahäväkyas are listed below in
the order of the Upanishads in
which they occur:
l ‘Prajïänaà brahma’ from
Aitareya Upanishad in the
Rigveda. It is known as
abhyäsa väkya.
l ‘Ahaà brahmäsmi’ from
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in
the Yajurveda. This is called
anubhava väkya.
l ‘Tat-tvam-asi’ from Chandogya
Upanishad in the Samaveda. It
is called upadeça väkya.
l ‘Ayaà ätmä brahma’ from
Mandukya Upanishad in the
Atharvanaveda. It is called the
mukti väkya.
These four Mahäväkyas are
explained in the Panchadasi in
eight verses that are very
simple, but carry deep implica-
tions on serious study. Students
will understand them to the
extent they have developed the
contemplative faculties.
The commentaries upon the
Upanishads are called bhäñyas.
There are some editions of these
Upanishads where we find notes
on these commentaries, like
those of Anandagiri. His notes
contain such terse logic that
others have had to provide
further notes on them! To make
us understand these, Mahätmäs
give discourses. Now our effort
is to understand – not the dis-
courses, not the commentaries,
Tapovan Prasad 9 February 2008
not the notes, not even the
Upanishadic mantras, but the
salient corner-stone of Hindu-
ism, the very fundamental
declarations common in all the
Vedas – the Mahäväkyas.
Prajïänaà Brahma
Prajïänaà brahma from the
Aitareya Upanishad in the
Rigveda defines Truth as
prajïänaà – Consciousness. The
two words ‘prajïänaà brahma’
constitute a Mahäväkya, and the
entire Upanishad is an exposition
of this Mahäväkya. The teacher
gives this Mahäväkya to the
student, who has to think about
it and do the abhyäsa (practice
of contemplation), constantly
keeping in mind this statement
that the great Truth is the
Consciousness in me and the
Consciousness in you. Hence it
is called an abhyäsa väkya.
Ahaà Brahmäsmi
The second Mahäväkya ‘ahaà
brahmäsmi – I am Brahman’
occurs in the Brihadaranyaka
Upanishad in Yajurveda. This
again is a very brief statement
consisting only of two words,
and we are likely to get
confused by it. If someone tells
me that I am the King of India,
I will wonder if something is
wrong with that person! I can’t
accept the statement because
there is a huge disparity
between what it says and what
I am at this moment. If you tell
me that I am human, I am a
noble soul, that I have great
potential, I can accept it,
because I know it, and it is
possible to bring out the hidden
potential with training. But all
of a sudden if you say that I am
the Supreme, is not acceptable;
the student finds it very difficult
to understand.
In this chapter of the
Panchadasi, Swami Vidyaranya
is trying to explain to us what
exactly these words connote.
Unless we understand the basic
meaning of these Mahäväkyas,
we cannot use them in medita-
tion as a boat to cross over the
confusions of our mind. When
we have withdrawn ourselves
Tapovan Prasad 10 February 2008
from the sensuous appetites of
the flesh and mastered the mind
in preparation, we can contem-
plate upon these Mahäväkyas.
They help us in our higher
flights into the realms of Con-
sciousness. In order to meditate
upon the Mahäväkyas, I must
know the deep significance of
the words which are expounded
in this short chapter. ‘Ahaà
brahmäsmi’ is an anubhava väkya,
to be practically experienced.
Tat Tvaà Asi
In the Chandogya Upanishad
from Sama Veda, the upadeça
väkya ‘tat tvaà asi – That you
are,’ is revealed. This is the
profound instruction given by
the teacher to the student to
meditate upon.
Ayaà Ätmä Brahma
The Mahäväkya ‘ayaà ätmä
brahma – This Self is Brahman,’
is from the Mandukya Upanishad
in Atharvanaveda. This is the
mukti väkya or the final declara-
tion, the thunderous roar of
experience.
The Logical Progression
The link between the Mahä-
väkyas can be understood better
when we visualise a situation.
The student comes to the
Teacher in confusion, and the
Teacher says that this great
Truth you are seeking is nothing
but prajïänaà – ‘Consciousness
is Brahman.’ The student goes to
the banks of the Ganga,
contemplates deeply upon it
and negates everything known
– the Sun, the Moon, Indra,
Varuna, Vayu, Siva, Krishna,
Vishnu – they are not the
Infinite Reality, the Supreme
Consciousness. In his mind the
question arises, “Where is this
Consciousness?” So he comes
back to the Teacher. The Tea-
cher says that Consciousness is
not in Kashi or Rameshwar
where he can go on a pilgrim-
age and find it. It is right within
him, and so the second great
statement, the upadeça väkya ‘tat
tvaà asi – That thou art,’ is
given out. The Teacher says that
the Supreme Truth, already
explained to him, is to be found
in the student’s own innermost
Self. The Consciousness in him
is the Consciousness present
everywhere.
After this the student goes
away and once again contem-
plates on the statement ‘I am the
Pure Consciousness’. He realises
that he cannot be the mind, or
the body, or the intellect, or the
väsanäs. He cannot be the gross
(sthüla) or the subtle (sükñma) or
the causal body (käraëa çaréra).
Tapovan Prasad 11 February 2008
Slowly he goes beyond the three
bodies, the five koças and
meditates on the fact that he is
nothing but Pure Conscious-
ness. Then the Truth dawns on
him, and he cries out in the
ecstatic personal experience of
the Self, “ayaà ätmä brahma –
this Atman in me is Brahman, the
Supreme Reality.” This is the
anubhava. When you have libe-
rated yourself from all other
equipments of matter – the BMI
(body, mind, intellect), the PFT
(perceiver, feeler, thinker), and
the OET (objects, emotions,
thoughts), at that moment ‘ayaà
ätmä brahma’ is the experience
in the seat of meditation.
After that, when he goes to
the Teacher, the Teacher asks,
“Have you got any more
doubts? What is Truth?” The
student does not know how to
express it, and he says: “ahaà
brahmäsmi.” That ‘I’ which I
thought to be the PFT, is no
more the PFT, because once the
equipments have been tran-
scended, I have no more attach-
ment or identification with the
equipments. At that moment I
came to realise that this Brah-
man, the Infinite Consciousness,
the substratum of the whole, is
I myself, whom I earlier thought
to be the PFT or the individua-
lity in my confusion.
Savikalpa and
Nirvikalpa Vision
Thus, due to saìkalpa-vikalpa,
the projection, imagination and
identification with what was
imagined, and the consequent
agitations in my mind, I mis-
understood myself to be a
limited creature in the world.
Now the saìkalpa-vikalpa has
ended because the mind has
been transcended. I have rea-
lised that I am none other than
the Pure Infinite Consciousness,
where there is no otherness at
all. This is the experience of
nirvikalpa samädhi. In savikalpa
samädhi the experience is ayaà
ätmä brahma. In nirvikalpa
Tapovan Prasad 12 February 2008
samädhi, it is ahaà brahmäsmi,
without any sense of otherness
– ananyatayä. Not that I realised
the Truth and it is an object
other than me, but it is I myself;
nothing other than the Truth
exists, including me. I don’t
exist separately. This is the
crucial or final experience of all
great mystic scholars. They had
the courage to put to test the
conclusions they arrived at
as a result of endless observa-
tions, discussions, and logical
thinking. These first-hand
experiences of philosophical
truths resulted in the transcen-
dental declarations called the
Mahäväkyas.
Väcyärtha and Lakñyärtha
The Mahäväkyas are words
arising from the shimmering
heat of experience of the masters
at the seat of meditation, when
they have transcended their
equipments, burnt down their
limited identity as individuals
and risen to the heights of
Supreme Infinitude. In these
few words the mighty masters
tried to express what they had
experienced as the Infinite Truth
behind the world of meaning-
less quarrels and endless
sorrows. Naturally these words
contain not only the väcyärtha,
but also the lakçyärtha. Väcyärtha
means the word meaning or the
dictionary meaning; lakñyärtha is
the indicative meaning, pointing
out the Supreme Truth.
Anyone with a dictionary in
hand and a little knowledge of
Sanskrit can know the literal
meaning or the väcyartha. Even
a dictionary is not necessary to
understand the superficial
meaning of simple words like
‘tat tvaà asi – That thou art.’ I
am not ‘me’, but I am ‘That’ and
‘That’ is God! Not only does one
fail to understand the full
import of the simple words, but
one can also become utterly
confused. ‘Ahaà brahma asmi – I
am Brahman.’ So simple! But the
questions come up: What is
Tapovan Prasad 13 February 2008
Brahman? Who is this I? And asi
– both of them are one. How?
How can two things be one? If
there are two things, they are
each limiting and conditioning
the other. How can Rama Reddy
be Krishna Reddy? It is not
possible. How can I be Brah-
man? But suppose I am now
sitting in my home, and an old
friend of my father comes on a
visit. All of us talk for some-
time, and at the end of it he asks
my father, “Menon, where is
that son of yours who went to
Lucknow for studies? Where is
he nowadays?” What will my
father say? “That son, O friend
of mine, whom you used to play
with, that son is this Swami
sitting in front of you!” That
son, the little boy, a terrible,
mischievous monster around
the year 1922, is now in 1964,
this holy saint talking holy
things, doing no apparent
mischief! Where there was
childish ignorance, now there is
wisdom. He, who was a child,
is now a grown up man. Then
he was ‘my son’, now it is ‘His
Holiness’. Thus, there is a
change in various ways, but it
is undeniably the same person.
That child had a squint; this
Swami also has a squint eye.
Certain things don’t change,
and they are both one and the
same person. So the difference
is only in the conditioning.
When the conditionings – the
small frame and the childish-
ness of the little boy, the beard
and wisdom of the Swami – are
removed, the entity who was
the child is the Swami now. Thus
we must try to understand the
lakñyärtha, the indicative mean-
ing suggested by the words in
the Mahäväkyas.
In ‘tat tvaà asi – That you
are’, ‘tat’ is that Infinite Con-
sciousness which is functioning
in all equipments in the world
outside, and ‘you’ refers not to
this complex of body, mind and
intellect, but the ätma caitanya,
the Consciousness that is
functioning in you. The life
functioning in you is the life
functioning in everyone present.
Thus, the Mahäväkyas are very
brief and terse, and each word
is loaded with deep significance.
These deeper indicative mean-
ings (lakñyärtha) are pointed out
in the eight verses of this
chapter in the Panchadasi, with
two verses allocated for each
Mahäväkya. Once we understand
the meaning, we will be able to
float into meditation upon these
four Mahäväkyas.
G
Tapovan Prasad 11 March 2008
Mahavakya
Viveka – 3
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Three Streams of
Vedänta
As a result of the study of
the Mahäväkyas, when we accept
that there is one Infinite Truth
behind this entire universe, like
the ocean in which the waves
play, and that the waves have
no separate existence from the
ocean, further questions rise in
the student’s mind: “If that
Brahman alone is, then what are
these various things that I see?”
In the Vedäntic school itself there
are three main Acharyas, each
one championing one theory or
the other to answer the various
types of students. Remember
that among the Acharyas there
is no quarrel in spite of the
differences, just as in a political
party there may be a leftist and
a rightist, but between them
there is no quarrel and they stay
united for the purpose of form-
ing the government. They are
merely different viewpoints of
the Truth, to suit the angle of
vision of the student and make
him understand the relationship
of the individual to the Supreme
Reality.
All Vedäntins accept the one
Infinite Reality. All of them say
that it is the final goal. All of
them agree that the Mahäväkyas
are the pointers to the Supreme
Truth. However, in order to
help the students, they try to
expound the relationship of this
Tapovan Prasad 12 March 2008
world of plurality with the
Infinite Oneness.
Päramärthika Satta
For the benefit of the highest
type of students, the Rishis and
Vedäntic Masters who have
realised this Infinitude proclaim
ajäta väda – that never was the
world born at all! This is the
päramärthika satta. Paramärtha
(the Highest) alone is the one
Reality – sattä. The universe is
never born. It is only a play, a
trick of the mind, mere imagi-
nation. They speak from the
highest standpoint, without
coming down to the level of our
ignorance. Never ever was the
world born, because matter
itself is only our saìkalpa – there
is nothing apart from our own
imagination! In a quiet drawing
room, if a mad man were to say
that the others are beating him
up, one can only tell him that
there is no one other than them
in that room. From his stand-
point, his saìkalpa or kalpanä
(imagination) that people are
beating him is very real. But
from our standpoint and that of
the others in the drawing room,
he is talking nonsense; his
world of persecutors is ajäta –
never born. Sri Gaudapada in
the Mandukya Karika, or Sage
Vasishtha in Yoga Vasishtha, or
Ashtavakra in the Ashtavakra
Gita, or the great Avadhoota in
the Avadhoota Gita – all of them
speak from the highest pinnacle
of Truth and cry out, “Can’t you
understand, you are the
Reality!”
“Hey Maharaj! What about
my body?”
“There is no body.”
From our standpoint they
seem to be mad! According to
them none of this was ever
born, ever existed, nor ever
merged – being non-existent,
there is no question of merging.
This is ajäta väda. Only an uttama
adhikäri can understand or even
intellectually sympathise with
the Teacher, without accusing
him or condemning him as a
mad creature, whose very
Tapovan Prasad 13 March 2008
existence is a danger to the
world. To an ajäta vädé there is
no matter, there is nothing; you
are Awareness itself. And if at
all you see anything, be aware
of it totally, and it will all dis-
appear. If you stand apart and
watch the mind, the mind will
end and you remain as the Pure
Awareness. There is no path,
because who is to move and
towards what? You are already.
Just be!
Prätibhäsika Sattä
Some Teachers, for the pur-
pose of benefiting and blessing
certain lesser type of students,
accept not only päramärthika
sattä, but also prätibhäsika sattä
(reflection of the Reality). They
accept the One Reality, but
explain that whatever we see
around us is nothing but that
Reality conditioned, reflected
upon the mind. In order to
accommodate our stupidity, the
teacher concedes a relative
Reality, just as the dream has a
relative reality. To the dreamer,
while he is dreaming, the dream
objects have a dream reality. No
doubt, on waking up, he finds
it is not there. In the dream, the
dream tiger can kill you, the
dream car can take you places,
and the dream wife can feed
you. The dream food can
remove your dream hunger. But
on waking up, suddenly you
find that you have no wife, no
children, no car, and to top it
all you are very hungry, even
though you had a great lunch
in the dream! Thus the food in
the dream can be useful to the
dreamer; it has a relative reality.
It is real so long as the dreamer
exists. On waking up, one finds
that the dreamer and the dream
world are in the realm of false-
hood. All the things in the
dream merge and become one
with the waker.
Thus these Acharyas not only
accepted päramärthika sattä, but
also prätibhäsika sattä, the
reflected Reality. The Supreme
Reality is manifested in the
world around us in various
forms. In and through the world
of forms, of matter, the Teacher
is trying to make the student
concentrate and see the play of
the Spirit. And when you
apprehend the play of the Spirit
in the world of matter, the mat-
ter drops off, because in that
experience there is nothing but
Absolute Infinitude alone. This
is also called såñöi dåñöi väda.
Your mind projects the såñöi;
then you see it and suffer the
joys and sorrows of saàsära.
Såñöi dåñöi väda is for the
madhyama adhikäré.
Tapovan Prasad 14 March 2008
Vyävahärika Sattä
The third category is for the
adhamädhama adhikärés, the
dullest type of students. Here
the Teachers accept not only the
päramärthika sattä and the
prätibhäsika sattä, but also a
vyävahärika sattä, where there is
a Narayana, and a hierarchy of
gods. When you are in trouble,
cry out to Him! If a direct
approach is not possible, then
go through proper channels,
choosing the deity in charge of
that department. Narayana will
send you all the protection and
help, nurture and nourishment.
Thus the lowest type of students
with a strong attachment to the
world are also given some spiri-
tual support. If you tell a grossly
sensuous and materialistic
person that neither he nor the
world outside exists, that they
are all mere reflections of the
One Existence, he will just give
you a stunned look, thinking
that you are off your mind. He
cannot understand. So one has
to come down to his level and
say, “Narayana is the final
Reality. You may continue to
live as before, keeping Nara-
yana småti in one corner of the
mind. Then you will be
successful in your work, and
avoid failures and sorrow. The
children will grow to be healthy,
the wife will continue to love
you, there will always be money
in the bank. Income-tax people
will not give you any trouble.”
These are his fears. Playing
upon them, tell him that with
Narayana kåpä he can do any-
thing in the world. He will
accept it because Narayana kåpä
will help him to live his won-
derful life in the world! This is
how Ravana and other räkñasäs
were great bhaktäs of Siva. A
mind that would have other-
wise been cent per cent sensual,
will then accept some mighty
unknown power beyond, a
power that is all love, kindness,
purity and serenity. Thus the
Tapovan Prasad 15 March 2008
G
Teacher introduces a spiritual
idea into that mind crowded
with animal passions. Such a
person, in the hurry-burry of
living, feels sometimes that
Narayana alone must have
helped him in his troubles
because he was in such a situa-
tion that nobody in the world
could have helped him. He
cried out with a burning heart
to Narayana, and help came.
When this happens once or
twice, his faith in Narayana
increases. He depends more on
Narayana than on the objects of
the world. No doubt he will still
want the objects, but will
depend more on Narayana.
Slowly we tell that person that
everything in the world is a
reflection of that wonderful
Narayana, and he is able to
comprehend the idea.
Then the glory of Narayana
is explained further. “When you
are in the lap of Narayana and
look at the world outside, you
will see that this world outside
is only Narayana’s creation.
When you turn towards
Narayana, these are no more –
näräyaëamayaà jagat.” Then that
person will be able to under-
stand that there are three view-
points. Remember, it is not that
these Acharyas disagree in their
viewpoints or fight with each
other; it is just that they got
different types of disciples. If all
of them had mighty disciples
like Sankara, then none of them
would have needed any other
method. The direct method
would have been sufficient. But
since the students are of
different calibre, the Teachers
have to sink or dilute their
philosophy to reach out to the
mental level of the students,
explain everything gradually,
and slowly lift them to the
Highest. We will see these
varying approaches as we study
the four Mahäväkyas.
Tapovan Prasad 8 April 2008
I
n the Upanishads, the essen-
tial Truth is indicated in the
brief statements known as
‘Mahäväkyas’. Mahad väkya
literally means ‘big word’.
Mahad means big or glorious,
and väkya means word or state-
ment – the great statement. It is
called a great statement because
the Vedas themselves are great,
and the Mahäväkya is the essen-
tial seed, or the nucleus of the
Vedas. Secondly, when we medi-
tate upon a Mahäväkya, it can
take us to the Highest and so it
is called great. Thirdly, on
realising the meaning of a
Mahäväkya, we will see that
there is nothing but Brahman;
since Infinitude is introduced
through these statements, they
are called great. It is one know-
ledge that cannot be got from
any other place, in any other
way. All scientific investigations
are objective, whereas this is the
Subjective Reality. This Infinite
Substratum is indicated through
these statements and hence they
are called great. The essence of
all spiritual literature is
crystallised into these terse
statements, and all the scriptural
literature we have are only com-
mentaries upon these four great
statements.
The first of these four state-
ments, ‘prajïänaà brahma’, is
taken from Aitareya Upanishad in
the Rigveda. It is known as
‘abhyäsa väkya’, meaning a state-
ment for repeated study and
contemplation.
The Student’s Question
Having observed the perish-
able nature of the world around,
the student comes to the
Teacher in a state of mental
confusion. He asks, “O Teacher!
Isn’t there anything permanent
in this world? Everything seems
perishable. The body, mind,
intellect, and all things in the
world around us keep changing.
What is the use of acquiring
anything? My love for my wife,
my wife’s adoration for me, my
affection for my children, the
Mahavakya
Viveka – 4
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Tapovan Prasad 9 April 2008
children’s respect and reverence
for me – all are subject to
change. The equipments of
experience in me also keep
changing. This world is ever
changing and consequently ever
agitated.
“I have no more fascination
for objects, since the very things
that seemed to give me joy
yesterday, give me suffering
and pain today. In such a chang-
ing and impermanent world, no
intelligent person would strive
to achieve anything, since all is
subject to decay. The very word
jagat indicates an ever-changing
flux. This flood of change must
have a substratum, or else it is
meaningless.
“All the changes are
recognised by me as a continu-
ous process. What is that Rea-
lity behind, the substratum
upon which all these changes
are taking place, giving me the
apparent illusion that it is all a
continuous process? I was a
child once, then grew into a
youth, am now a middle-aged
person and will soon become an
old man. The child is not the
youth, the youth is not the
middle-aged person, and the
middle-aged person is not the
old man.
“Everything has changed,
but there is a continuity,
because I seem to be constantly
there. What is this constant
factor? Generations after gen-
erations come into the world,
play on the stage of the world
and die away, and other gen-
erations take up the work and
do it. There is continuity in the
midst of the change. What is it
that gives the continuity? Each
wave is different from the other
waves and yet there is the
substratum of the ocean that
holds them all together. If each
wave were independent of other
waves, rising, falling, and dying
away, then the homogeneous
experience of one ocean storm-
ing, surging and ceasing would
not have been with us. So what
is it that is holding them all to-
gether? A few buckets of water,
each bucketful flowing for a
yard or so does not make a
river. A river is a continuous
flow of water. Each bucket of
water, each unit, is moving, but
it is all moving together. What
is it that holds it together? A
changeless substratum must
support all changes; else there
will be no sense of continuity.
What is this changeless factor?”
Thus the thinking student
approaches the Teacher and
questions him, after having
analysed his own experiences in
the world around.
Tapovan Prasad 10 April 2008
The Teacher’s Answer
The Teacher replies quietly,
“prajïänaà brahma.” This
changeless substratum – call it
‘God’, ‘Paramätmä’, the
‘Supreme Reality’, or Brahman –
is prajïänaà, Consciousness.
At that time, probably, it was
sufficient for the student to hear
this. He goes out to contemplate
on this statement. He had ear-
lier conceived the fire or air as
God. Now, all of a sudden, the
Teacher says, “prajïänaà brahma
– Consciousness is Truth.” This
statement tells the student to
deny and negate everything he
conceived as Truth or Reality.
He now seeks that Conscious-
ness indicated by the Teacher as
the only Pure Reality. As he
contemplates, he comes to
understand that the Truth is not
merely in the church, the
mosque, or the temple. It is not
in the Bible, the Koran, or the
Vedas. It is not in the sacred
statements. It is not just the
Guru or the individual student.
It is prajïänaà, Consciousness,
which envelops all this.
The student thus draws his
mind away from all the objects
of perceptions, all the emotions
and thoughts; he holds the mind
in abeyance and turns towards
the Pure Consciousness.
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 1
Swami Vidyaranya, the com-
passionate Teacher, dedicates
two verses to each of the
Mahäväkyas, explaining what the
words stand for. ‘Prajïänaà
brahma’, the Mahäväkya from
Aitareya Upanishad in the
Rigveda, is taken up first because
it is the definition of Truth:
ye ne ]te z& [ae tId< ijºit
Vyakrae it c,
SvaÖSvaÊ ivjanait
tTà}anmu dIirtm! .
yenekñate çåëotédaà
jighrati vyäkaroti ca,
svädvasvädu vijänäti
tatprajïänam-udéritam.
That by which one sees, hears,
smells, describes (expresses or
speaks), knows the tasty and the
tastel ess, i s decl ared to be
Consciousness.
The Teacher explains that
prajïänaà means Conscious-
ness. Physiologists, psycholo-
gists and philosophers also talk
about Consciousness, but if you
ask them what is Conscious-
ness, they will tell you to refer
to a dictionary! Here Swami
Vidyaranya presents a rare
specimen of a definition of
Tapovan Prasad 11 April 2008
Consciousness that is not avai-
lable even in the Upanishads. It
is not a direct statement, but it
indicates the meaning very
clearly.
Tad prajïänaà udéritam – that
is called prajïänaà or Con-
sciousness, yena – by which,
ékñate – one sees the objects of
the world outside. Conscious-
nesss is that by which one
experiences the outer world of
perceptions.
All of us know that we see
the things in the outside world
with our eyes. Does the Teacher
mean to say that the eyes are
the Consciousness? Eyes are
merely the external instruments
through which we perceive the
outer world of objects. When
the outer perceptions reach our
nervous system, how do we
gain the knowledge about the
object? It is the ‘Seer’ who sees
through the eyes. It is said in
the Kenopanishad,
y½]u ;a n pZyit
ye n c]U ‡i; pZyit,
tde v äü Tv< iviÏ
ne d< yiddmu paste .
yaccakñuñä na paçyati
yena cakñüðñi paçyati,
tadeva brahma tvaà viddhi
nedaà yadidam-upäsate.
That which the eyes do not see,
but because of which the eyes are
able to see, understand that alone
to be Brahman, and not this that
people worship here.
So it is clear that the ‘Seer’
in me is Brahman.
Prakriya granthas or introduc-
tory textbooks like the Pancha-
dasi discuss only what is said in
the Upanishads. Though these
ideas are indicated in the
Upanishads, all of them are not
clearly stated in one single place
for the student to have a cogent
ready-made answer. Here
Swami Vidyaranya explains:
‘yena ékñate – that by which you
see, that in you which illumines
all the sense stimuli, çåëoti idaà
– that by which you are hearing
what I am saying now, is
prajïänaà – Consciousness.
At this moment, when I hear
external sounds, I feel disturbed
because my attention is on the
meaning of the sounds, not on
that which illumines the sounds.
What is it because of which I
am able to know that the sounds
have reached me? I am not in-
terested in the meaning of the
sounds now. At this moment I
am fascinated by the fact that
the sound reaches me and I am
able to cognise it. I will not
dwell on the sound of a bus, and
Tapovan Prasad 12 April 2008
wonder if it is a private bus or
a state-owned bus or think that
state-owned buses never gener-
ally run on time. It is enough
that some sound has reached
my tympanum. After all, the
tympanum is made up of
matter. What is it that converts
the message into confirmed
knowledge? What is that Know-
ing Principle which illumines it,
gives me the awareness or idea
that there is a sound?
When we chant ‘Om… Om…
Om…’ we know that ‘Om’
stands for that by which we
know the sound. Yena jighrati –
that which illumines all the
smells through my nose,
vyäkaroti vä – or that by which I
am able to speak and interact
with the world, svädvasvädu
vijänäti – that by which I know
the taste, is verily prajïänaà –
Consciousness. Svädu means
tasty and asvädu means bitter-
ness, sourness, or a taste that
you don’t like. Whether it is
ghee, laddoo, or castor oil, when
I put it on the tongue, the object
and the tongue meet, and the
taste buds react. What is it that
illumines the experience and
makes me know if it is good or
bad? We are not talking of the
object – whether the taste is
good or bad, why it is so, etc.
We are not talking of the physi-
ology, the structure and
function of the taste buds in the
tongue. We are talking of the
factor that brings the experience
to me, that illumines it for me.
That is called prajïänaà –
Consciousness.
So prajïänaà is not the eyes,
the ears, the nose, the tongue or
the power of speech. By thus
pointing out three of the instru-
ments of perception – jïänen-
driyas, and speech that stands
for the karmendriyas, the verse
indicates all the sense organs.
Consciousness is that by which
I know what I am lifting, that
by which I know that I am
moving, that by which I know
all the experiences inside and
outside. The emotions in the
mind and the thoughts in the
Tapovan Prasad 13 April 2008
intellect are all illumined and
brought within the pool of light
of my knowledge by Conscious-
ness. That is called prajïänaà –
tad prajïänaà udéritam. It is
declared to be the Pure Con-
sciousness which is Brahman –
prajïänaà brahma. The entire
text of Kenopanishad focuses on
this; the Teacher there tries to
explain this prajïänaà to the
student.
Once this light of Conscious-
ness is withdrawn from us,
when it does not illumine these
equipments any more, they can
have no experiences at all. Once
the body is dead, when this
Consciousness is no more in us,
then whatever happens to the
body, it is not experienced. It
may be covered by the national
flag and flowers, put on a
funeral pyre made up of
sandalwood, or carried in the
municipal van like a dog,
dragged along the road or
dumped in a pit – it is immate-
rial. The body is disposed off
not for our sake, but for the sake
of the society! Whether the ash
is sprinkled on all the rivers of
the country, or showered upon
the earth, it does not matter; the
ash will not recognise it. So
Consciousness is not the
perceived world of objects,
emotions and thoughts, nor the
instruments of projection – the
body, mind and intellect. It is
that by which we cognise all the
experiences of the body, mind
and intellect. That Pure Self, that
Light of understanding, that
Awareness or Consciousness is
called prajïänaà.
The definition given in the
Upanishad was ‘prajïänaà
brahma – Consciousness is Brah-
man, the Supreme Reality.’
Swami Vidyaranya has
explained in this verse the
meaning of the word prajïänaà.
In the next verse he will explain
the meaning of Brahman and
show that the Consciousness in
me is the Supreme Reality
behind the whole universe.
G
Tapovan Prasad 11 May 2008
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 2
ctu mu R oe NÔde ve ;u mnu :yañgvaid;u ,
cE tNyme k< äüat> à}an< äü mYyip.
caturmukhendradeveñu
manuñyäçvagavädiñu,
caitanyamekaà brahmätaù
prajïänaà brahma mayyapi.
The one Consciousness (found)
in the four-faced Brahma, Indra and
other gods, and in human beings,
horses, cows, etc. is Brahman;
hence the Consciousness in me is
also Brahman.
Caturmukha means one who
has four faces. In the Puranas,
Brahma, the Creator, is depicted
with four faces. During the time
of Swami Vidyaranya, the
Puranas had become very popu-
lar. Hence, instead of saying
Hiraëyagarbha, which is the style
and language of the Upanishads,
he uses the pauräëic concept of
Brahma, the Creator. This is
because Swami Vidyaranya was
addressing his own generation
of students who were familiar
with the word picture of the
four-faced Brahma given by
Vyasa Bhagavan in the Puranas.
It is to be noted that Brahma,
the Creator, is the name of a
deity, in the masculine gender,
not to be confused with the
word Brahman (the Supreme
Truth) in the neuter gender.
Lord Brahma has Saraswati, the
Goddess of Learning, as his
spouse. He is depicted with four
faces because he creates all the
four directions. The four faces
also indicate the four Vedas, or
all knowledge. The reference to
Brahmaji includes Lord Vishnu
with four arms and Lord Siva
with three eyes also.
Indra did a lot of penance
and yajïas, and as a result,
acquired plenty of puëya
(merits). He wished to become
the king of gods, and that expe-
rience was given to him. The
Consciousness in Lord Brahma,
Mahavakya
Viveka – 5
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Tapovan Prasad 12 May 2008
in Indra, and all the other gods
(deveñu), the denizens of heaven,
is one and the same.
In the same way, Conscious-
ness remains the same in all
human beings (manuñya), horses
(açva), cows (gava), etc. The
word ‘ädiñu’, meaning ‘etc.’,
indicates all living creatures,
jaräyuja – born from a womb,
aëòaja – born of eggs, svedaja –
born of sweat, and udbhijja –
born from the soil, sprouted or
germinated. It includes the most
insignificant worms in the
world, the minutest unicellular
organisms with minimal deve-
lopment, where the intellect and
emotions do not find expres-
sion.
Thus Swami Vidyaranya
indicates three categories of
beings. The highest of these
comprises Brahma – the
Creator, Indra, and the denizens
of the heaven. These are the
uttama jévé, the highest forms of
life. Then comes the middle
category, the madhyama jévé, the
human beings. Man is posi-
tioned in the middle because he
can feel the inspiration and pull
of the Higher, as well as the
lower tendencies of the animal
kingdom. The lowest, adhama,
are the animals, plants and so
on.
In all the three categories of
beings, Consciousness is one
and the same – caitanyaà ekam.
The spark of existence, the
dynamic light of Consciousness
with which they experience
their different experiences, is the
same in all of them. The light
that illumines the president’s
bedroom (uttama), your draw-
ing room (madhyama), and my
bathroom (adhama), is one and
the same. It may be illumining
different things, and the
intensity of the light may be
different, but the electricity in
the bulbs is the same.
Whether Mohammed, Christ
or Krishna, whether the best of
yogés, the best of saints and
sages, or the criminal who loots
gold and ornaments or kills his
own wife and children, the
Tapovan Prasad 13 May 2008
lowest of the low, the silly fools,
or the mute animals – in all of
them Consciousness is one and
the same. The actions may be
good or bad according to the
väsanäs they have acquired in
the past and the lower tenden-
cies they have cultivated by
wrong thinking. As the väsanäs,
so the thoughts, and as the
thoughts, so the actions. How-
ever, whether the actions are
good or bad, noble and glori-
ous or ignoble and unrighteous,
in all of them Consciousness is
one and the same.
A very daring statement
indeed! Only mystic scholars
who have experienced this
Truth can say it with such
conviction. We can be proud
that historically it was first
stated in the scriptures in India,
though other spiritual masters
have endorsed it in the course
of time.
In the first çloka, prajïänam
was described as the Pure Con-
sciousness that illumines all my
experiences. Now the Teacher
says that it is this same Con-
sciousness that illumines the
experiences of all living crea-
tures, and this is called Brahman.
People go all the way to
Tirupati for brahma-darçan on a
Friday, when the deity takes a
bath. It is also called viçva
darçanam, seeing the viräö rüpa
of the Lord, without His orna-
ments and attire, which are
merely upädhis. When the
upädhis are removed, pure
Brahman is recognised. You have
to pay a hefty sum for that
darçan; it shows that you have
to make a lot of sacrifices,
renounce the BMI (body-mind-
intellect) in order to see His
viçva rüpa, His pure nature.
The caitanya (Consciousness)
in the Lord and the caitanya in
me are one and the same. But
at this moment, since I cannot
conceive the caitanya alone, I am
told to hold on to the idol, an
external symbol. The idol helps
me to withdraw my mind from
other dissipating thoughts.
When I concentrate on the idol
and surrender myself, the
equipments of BMI vanish, and
the OET (objects-emotions-
thoughts) also disappear. In that
still moment of utter bhakti, the
highest devotion, everything,
including the idol, melts into the
one Pure Consciousness. Thus
the Siva-tattva or the Vishnu-
tattva is realised, experienced.
The Upanishads tell us to
leave the equipments of body
and mind, and enter deep
within ourselves – abhyantara –
to discover the Ätman. In
Vedanta, ‘within’ means more
Tapovan Prasad 14 May 2008
pervasive – the präëamaya koça
(vital air sheath) is within the
annamaya koça (food sheath),
meaning it is more pervasive,
being subtler. So also, the
manomaya koça (mental sheath)
is within the präëamaya koça, the
vijïänamaya koça (intellectual
sheath) is subtler still and more
pervasive, avidyä pervades all of
them and, finally, the Ätman
that is at the core pervades
everything else, while nothing
else pervades it: ‘éçäväsyam-idað
sarvaà yatkiïca jagatyäà jagat
1
–
all this that moves in this
universe is pervaded by God.’
This Consciousness is called
Brahman. Hence the Conscious-
ness in me is also Brahman –
prajïänaà brahma mayyapi.
According to the first verse, that
which illumines every experi-
ence in my bosom is prajïänaà.
The second verse states that the
illumining factor in every living
creature is one and the same,
and it is known as Brahman. As
a living human being, I am
conscious of the things inside
me and outside me; the objects
I perceive are not Brahman; my
instruments of experience (BMI)
are not Brahman, but the
Consciousness in me is Brahman.
So if I realise this Conscious-
ness, I shall realise Brahman.
Though Brahman is all perva-
ding, only by becoming aware
of the Consciousness in me can
I realise Brahman.
Everything else changes, but
in all changes there is a Knower
of the change. This Knowing
Principle that makes us aware
of the changes is something
other than the change.
Kathopanishad explains that the
changeless in the midst of all
change, the sentient in the midst
of insentient things, is this Con-
sciousness which knows all
changes. Consciousness alone is
the subject, while all the chang-
ing phenomena are perceived,
and hence remain the objects.
This one Consciousness that is
the same everywhere is called
Brahman, the ultimate Reality.
This Consciousness, the
centre of the universe, the pivot
around which all things happen,
the axle around which the
whole universe revolves, this
changeless entity is the same in
each one of us. It is the fulcrum
around which all my physical,
mental, and intellectual activi-
ties take place, all the païca koças
function, all the three states
(avasthäs) of waking (jägrat),
dream (svapna), and deep sleep
(suñupti) alternate, all joys and
sorrows are experienced. All of
1
Ishavasya Upanishad, 1
Tapovan Prasad 15 May 2008
them are known by, illumined
by, one changeless entity, the
Light of Consciousness, and that
is known as Brahman.
This Light of Consciousness
by which I know what I know,
is the Light of Consciousness by
which you know what you
know – it is the same in you
and me. Our instruments of
experiences may be different;
the objects in front of us may
be different. You may be wear-
ing green glasses, and so all that
you see appears green. What
you see will depend on the type
of instrument with which you
are seeing. But the light in
which we are seeing is one and
the same – the sunlight. The
arrangement of furniture in each
house may be different, the
objects that we see may be
different, but all of them are
illumined by the one sunlight.
In the same way, my mind may
be tuned to philosophy, your
intellect may delight in
medicine and yet another in
law. Thus our instruments of
experience may be different, but
the Consciousness behind them
remains one and the same –
caitanyaà ekam.
In a blind man the instru-
ments of eyes do not function.
So there are no colours or light
in his world. But he comes to
know the shape of things by
feeling them, touching them.
When he touches an object and
thus sends a stimulus to the
mind, a form is conceived in the
intellect. Who illumines that
touch? The same Consciousness
that lit up the colour and form
for me illumines the form alone
for him.
Consciousness is the same
and present everywhere, whe-
ther in deities or human beings,
whether criminal or divine,
whether in the Guru whom you
revere or in you yourself. This
one Infinite Consciousness is
called Brahman. In all the seven
seas of the world the water is
the same. If I take a few drops
of water from the Arabian Sea,
put it in a test tube, and learn
the composition of that water, I
would have understood the
composition of all oceanic
water. Similarly there is one
Infinite Consciousness present
in all forms in the world, every-
where, at all times. It is present
in me too. By learning to see it
in myself, I can learn to see it
everywhere.
Thus, in the first two verses,
the Mahäväkya from the Aitareya
Upanishad in Rigveda - prajïänaà
brahma – is explained clearly.
G
Tapovan Prasad 9 June 2008
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 3
pirpU [R > praTma=iSmn!
de he iv*aixkairi[,
bu Ïe > sai]tya iSwTva
Sˆ )… rÚhimtIyR te .
paripürëaù parätmä’smin
dehe vidyädhikäriëi,
buddheù säkñitayä sthitvä
sphurannahamitéryate.
The all-full Supreme Self that
shines as the witness of the intellect
in this body fit for Knowledge is
called ‘I’.
Now the Teacher takes up
the next Mahäväkya from Briha-
daranyaka Upanishad in Yajur-
veda: ‘ahaà brahmäsmi – I am
Brahman.’ This is called anubhava
väkya. It is the final thunderous
roar of experience when the stu-
dent cries out, “I considered
myself till now this conditioned
entity, conditioned by the de-
mands of my body, mind and
intellect, and was not aware of
my true Self as the Pure
Consciousness. I was aware of
only the body, the mind, the in-
tellect and their functions. Thus,
conditioned by them all, I
thought of myself as the PFT
(perceiver-feeler-thinker). Con-
ditioned by the BMI (body-
mind-intellect), I played the part
of the PFT, in the world of OET
(objects-emotions-thoughts).
From this individual known to
me all my life and probably for
millions and trillions of past
lives, this arrogant physical ego
that I considered myself to be, I
have now woken up to find
myself the Infinite Brahman.”
There are three words in this
statement: ‘aham’ – I, ‘Brahma’,
‘asmi’- am. In this verse, the
word ‘I’ is being defined. When
the seeker flows and glides into
the mystic experience of infin-
ity and cries out in wonder thus,
what does he mean by ‘aham’?
He has hatched out of his
limited equipments and realised
the Highest. Does he use the ‘I’
to mean the limited individual
Mahavakya
Viveka – 6
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Tapovan Prasad 10 June 2008
entity, the son of his father, the
wife/husband of so and so, the
worker/boss in the factory or
office?
At this moment, when we
say ‘I’ we mean this limited
individuality, limited by the
body, the mind, the intellect,
conditioned by the various
relationships. This ‘I’ (aham) can
never be the all-pervading
infinite Reality. This is very
clear. Hence, when the Teacher
says ‘ahaà brahmäsmi – I am
Brahman,’ we feel that either he
is mad or we have not under-
stood him in the right sense. We
know that we are born, we are
ever-changing, ever-dying. We
are sad and miserable with one
agitation or the other. The
Upanishads declare that this
infinite Consciousness is un-
born, undying, changeless, all-
pervading, unconditioned – One
without a second. How can the
imperfect, the limited, the finite,
the sorrowful, the changing, the
perishable, the miserable dying
thing be the infinite, the eter-
nal, the perfect, the all-full? It is
a day and night difference. They
are poles apart. Therefore, if the
Teacher says ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’
or the mystic sages come to this
conclusion in their anubhava
(experience), they mean some-
thing different from what we
mean by the term ‘aham – I’.
What exactly they mean is indi-
cated in this verse.
Paripürëa means the all-full,
unconditioned (aparicchinna) by
place (deça), time (käla), or
objects (vastu). So this Supreme
Truth does not belong to the
Einsteinian world of time and
space where an object cannot
exist without time and space. It
is paripürëa, full at all times. At
this moment we feel that ‘The
Ätman, that is me, is conditioned
by my body, mind and intellect.’
In order to show that it is never
conditioned, the word paripürëa
is used.
Parätmä, meaning the Supre-
me Self, resides in this body
(asmin dehe), which is capable of
the highest Knowledge (vidyä-
Tapovan Prasad 11 June 2008
dhikäriëi). Only a human being,
the most highly evolved crea-
ture, the roof and crown of
creation, is fit for this Know-
ledge – ätma vidyä. Among
human beings also, not many
are capable of this experience of
the Self. An individual becomes
fit for the highest experience
only when he has withdrawn
and given up the passion for the
world of objects, and when he
has brought his sense organs
and the organs of action under
control. Further, he has to pu-
rify his mind (antaùkaraëa
çuddhi) through worship (upä-
sanä). A pure mind has fewer
agitations and remains calm.
Calmness of mind is generally
disturbed by thoughts, and
thoughts are created from
väsanäs. Therefore a calm mind
means that the väsanäs are
exhausted. Väsanäs can be
exhausted through devotion
and action. Thus, when we have
purified the mind through bhakti
yoga and karma yoga, making it
calm and quiet, the intellect
becomes clear and capable of
contemplation.
Animals cannot do this. They
do not have the intellect to dis-
criminate the good from the
bad. Only a human being is
capable of evolving to a state
where the mind can receive the
highest Knowledge that will end
all avidyä, the non-apprehension
of Reality.
One may wonder where in
this body resides the Self, the
Ätman, the Supreme Reality –
whether behind the heart, above
the head, under the pancreas,
near the kidneys, or any other
An individual becomes
fit for the highest experi-
ence only when he has
withdrawn and given up
the passion for the world
of objects, and when he has
brought his sense organs
and the organs of action
under control.
Tapovan Prasad 12 June 2008
2
This Light of Awareness is not to be
confused with physical light.
part of the body. Consciousness
is not gross; it is very subtle and
pervasive. It remains as the
witness of all the activities in
this physical body, a witness of
even the intellect, the subtlest.
The intellect is subtler than the
mind, the mind is subtler than
the sense organs. Consciousness
is a witness of the sense objects,
the activities of the sense
organs, the emotions in the
mind, and the thoughts in the
intellect. By its very presence it
illumines them all – svasänni-
dhya mätreëa. It does not get
involved in the activities of the
body, mind and intellect. All the
worlds of matter draw their
nurture and nourishment from
this Infinite Consciousness.
Each one acts according to the
allotted function, and the
quality of the activities depends
on the types of väsanäs that rule
over them. The Consciousness,
the Supreme Self, the paripürëa
parätmä, remains merely a
witness – säkñé mätra.
Kenopanishad says that
Consciousness, the Light that
illumines our thoughts, can be
known with each thought it
illumines – pratibodha viditaà
matam
1
. The thoughts them-
selves are not Consciousness.
This plate you see is not only
the plate, but something else
also. Had I shown this plate to
you in utter darkness, you
would not have been able to
identify it. So what you are
seeing now is not only the ma-
terial of the plate or the form of
the plate, but also the light that
is illumining it. What you are
seeing is the plate plus light. So
what is light? Light is what you
are seeing, minus the object.
Let us go a step further – in
place of the plate, keep your
thoughts. Thoughts keep
moving: ‘I am happy, I am
unhappy; I am restless or
miserable.’ The principle of
Consciousness is not affected by
these thoughts in your mind,
but all your thoughts are illu-
mined by the Consciousness. It
is not involved in your joys or
sorrows, just as the sun is not
involved in the tragedy or
comedy that is played out on
the earth in its presence. The
witness of an accident is not
involved in the accident. The
witness or the säkñé remains
apart from the thing that is
witnessed. Similarly, this Light
2
of Consciousness, this paripürëa
1
Kenopanishad, 2.4
Tapovan Prasad 13 June 2008
parätmä, remains the uninvolved
witness of all our activities –
physical, mental or intellectual.
This point is explained beau-
tifully by Sri Sankaracharya in
Atma Bodha. Sunlight is avai-
lable to every individual to
carry out his actions in the
world outside, but it is not
involved in the individual’s
activities. Whether we know it
or not, we draw energy from the
sun. If the sun were not there,
all our activities would come to
a standstill. The sun shines from
far away. It does not come indi-
vidually to each person with a
packet of energy! Sunlight is
equally available for all to draw
upon. As we wake up in the
morning, it has already spread
out its light and energy lavishly.
Also, we need not sit in one
place to receive it. We move
around engrossed in our activi-
ties only because of its presence.
We are not even aware of it as
the source of all our energy, and
the sun does not want us to
acknowledge it either. With the
energy that we get from it, we
may even try to destroy the sun
itself! The sun doesn’t care.
Drawing our energy uncon-
sciously from the sun, each
one of us acts according to
one’s own free will, one’s own
väsanäs. The sun does not inter-
fere. Similarly, the Ätman, the
Self in us, the Consciousness in
us, says neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’.
The intellect can dance accord-
ing to its väsanäs. The mind can
dance according to the intellect.
The physical actions may be
good, bad, or indifferent accord-
ing to the väsanäs. But all
through this, the Ätman shines
as the witness – säkñitayä sthitvä
sphuran. If that illumination is
gone from the individual, he is
inert like stone or mud.
We become fit to perceive the
Consciousness, the Supreme
Self, by training the sense
organs, the mind, and the intel-
lect – asmindehe vidyädhikäriëi.
When these equipments of
experience are tuned up
properly, we apprehend the
The mind can dance
according to the intellect.
The physical actions may
be good, bad, or indiffer-
ent according to the
väsanäs. But all through
this, the Ätman shines as
the witness...
Tapovan Prasad 14 June 2008
Infinite, the Witness behind the
intellect (buddheù säkñé) – not the
thoughts, but the Knower of the
thoughts, the Illuminator of the
thoughts, the Light of Con-
sciousness, the paripürëa parätmä
that illumines each thought-
wave in us.
Thus this great Reality, this
Truth in you, this parätmä which
is all-pervading, pürëa, uncon-
ditioned by anything, which
remains as a witness in this
physical body, illumining
even your thoughts – this
principle of Consciousness in
you known as the Ätman is what
is referred to as ‘I’ – ahamitéryate.
This is the meaning of ‘aham’
in the Mahäväkya ‘ahaà
brahmäsmi’.
Generally we use the word
‘I’ (aham) to indicate the physi-
cal, mental, or intellectual entity
in us. We say ‘I am hungry, I
am tired’ with reference to the
physical body. We denote the
mental entity by saying ‘I am
angry’ or ‘I am in love.’ We refer
to our intellectual convictions
when we say, ‘I am a commu-
nist, a socialist or a religious
person.’ The Consciousness
conditioned by the convictions
cries out that ‘I am this or that.’
But, in fact, this Ätman, the Self,
is unconditioned by anything. It
is pürëa – all-full.
This pürëa ätman within me
that illumines my thoughts
must be the Brahman even in me
– prajïänaà brahma mayyapi.
Thus the Mahäväkya uses the
familiar word ‘I’ to refer to the
Supreme Consciousness in me.
In the context of this Mahäväkya,
‘I’ is not the ordinary limited
individual – mortal, finite and
ever sorrowful. It is the very
Consciousness, in the presence
of which all our activities take
place. That paripürëa parätman,
the Self in me, is called ‘aham’
in the grand statement ‘ahaà
brahmäsmi.’
G
Tapovan Prasad 10 July 2008
Mahavakya
Viveka – 7
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 4
Svt> pU [R > praTma=Ç
äüzBde n vi[R t>,
ASmITyE KypramzR >
te n äü ÉvaMyhm! .
svataù pürëaù parätmä’tra
brahmaçabdena varëitaù,
asmétyaikya-parämarçaù tena
brahma bhavämyaham.
Here (in the Mahäväkya ‘aham
brahmasmi’), the Supreme Self that
is all-full in itself is represented by
the word ‘Brahman’; the word ‘asmi’
indicates the oneness of ‘I’ and
‘Brahman’; hence I am Brahman.
There is a famous statement
in Vedanta: jïäpakameva çästraà,
na tu kärakam – Scriptural texts
give only information about the
Reality, they do not create
(enlightenment). Brahmavidyä
cannot create a brähmaëa – one
who knows, or is striving to
know Brahman. The Upanishads
and the Gita tell us about the
goal, how to reach the goal, and
what would be our experience
after realising it. A person may
have studied all this, yet that
knowledge may not be reflected
in his behaviour. One does not
improve automatically just by
becoming a Mission member or
going to a Guru.
Take the example of a
doctor’s prescription. Reading
the prescription daily will not
cure the disease. A health maga-
zine contains no health. It
merely gives information about
good health, how it can be
maintained and improved.
Unless the reader regulates his
activities according to the
instructions, he cannot see any
improvement. Similarly, Çästra
is only vedanéya; it gives the
Veda – knowledge. It makes you
aware of your wrong way of
living because of which you are
getting minimum happiness in
life. Then it indicates the Truth,
shows the path to reach it and
the pitfalls on the way. Such
information is necessary, but we
Tapovan Prasad 11 July 2008
have to make the effort, knock
at the gates of Truth and enter
to be one with it.
The individual has to make
the effort to prepare himself to
receive the knowledge. The
previous verse mentioned: ‘dehe
vidyädhikäriëi’
1
– in this body
that is fit to receive the know-
ledge. Though one has been
gifted with a human body, this
preparation has to be the indi-
vidual’s contribution. Vedänta
Sästra explains that by tuning
up our personality, we can live
a dynamic, full life which will
take us to greater heights of
glory, peace and perfection,
ultimately making us realise
‘ahaà brahmäsmi’.
In this Mahäväkya, the word
‘aham’ (I) does not refer to the
limited, conditioned entity of
the body-mind-intellect which is
the literal meaning or väcyärtha.
The lakñyärtha or the indicated
meaning is the Pure Conscious-
ness in me that illumines even
the thoughts of the intellect.
Thoughts are only the objects
illumined. ‘I’ – the light that
illumines them – is not connect-
ed with the objects at all. The
light that falls on a plate and
illumines it is not conditioned
by the plate. If the plate is
moved away, the light continues
to shine by itself – svataù. Hence
the word ‘aham’ here indicates
the light of Consciousness that
illumines everything in this
world for us – even our own
thoughts and emotions.
The Pure Consciousness in
me is a witness to my dancing
thoughts (säkñitayä sthitvä
2
). This
is explained in the näöaka dépa
prakaraëa
3
with the metaphor of
the dance hall. Consciousness is
described as the light in the
theatre that illumines the
audience, the prabhu (patron,
generally the king in those
days), the dancing girl and the
accompanists. The accompanists
are the sense organs, the danc-
ing girl is the intellect, the
prabhu is the ego, the audience
is the sense objects. The light
that is illumining them all at
once is the Pure Consciousness,
the Ätman. The intellect dances
in a thousand ways to the tune
of the sense organs for the
enjoyment of the prabhu, the
ego. However, if the light fails,
the show comes to an end. In
the olden days there was only
one light illumining everything
in the hall. So if the light fails,
1
Mahavakya Viveka, Verse 3
2
Ibid
3
Panchadasi, Ch. 10
Tapovan Prasad 12 July 2008
the girl cannot dance, nor can
anyone enjoy it. This light of
Consciousness, in the presence
of which the intellect dances,
which illumines at once the
intellect, the mind, its väsanäs,
the ego and the world of objects
– this Light is called aham here.
It refers to the Ätman, the Self,
the Consciousness.
Now, let us see how the
word Brahman is described in
this verse: svataù pürëaù parätmä
– the Supreme Reality (parätmä),
by itself (svataù), complete
(pürëaù), that is, unconditioned
by space, time and objects (deça
käla vastu aparicchinnaù). It is
svataù, exists by itself, meaning
without the help of anything
else – itara sahäya anapekñya. It
is complete by itself. It is
unconditioned and all-perva-
ding like space. Everything
exists in it. Nothing can condi-
tion (limit) it. This is how the
word Brahman is used here –
atra – that is in the Mahäväkya
‘ahaà brahmäsmi’.
Brahman is the one Infinite
Consciousness present every-
where, which by its own nature
is unconditioned by time, space
and causality. It is beyond the
intellect. The Pure Conscious-
ness in me, in the light of which
all my thoughts become evident
and clear for me, is the Con-
sciousness present everywhere.
The third word is ‘asmi’ (am).
It indicates the oneness (aikya
parämarçaù) of aham (I) and Brah-
man, the Supreme Reality – ‘I
am Brahman’. ‘Aham’ is the light
of Consciousness in me lighting
up the limited world of my
thoughts, my emotions, and the
objects around me. Brahman is
the total Consciousness present
everywhere. So the light of
Consciousness functioning in
me is nothing other than, is one
and the same with, Brahman –
the Supreme Consciousness, the
eternal and infinite Reality
behind the whole universe.
Thus, by this knowledge
(tena – anena jïänena) presented
Tapovan Prasad 13 July 2008
in the Mahäväkya, the man of
wisdom understands that ‘I am
Brahman’ – brahma bhavämi aham.
‘I’ does not refer to the indi-
vidual entity that we think
ourselves to be at present. At
this moment I am identified
with the physical body and as-
sociate myself with adjectives
like lean, tall, fat, Swami etc.
Identifying with the physical
body, I have fever, pain, etc.
Identifying with the mind and
its condition, I am agitated,
anxious and so on. Identifying
with the intellect, I say that I
don’t know, I am doubtful, I
will do it, etc.
‘I’ in this case refers to the
ego awakened to the higher
plane of Consciousness. A
dreamer who is suffering in the
dream with his dream wife,
dream children and the sorrows
in the dream, also says ‘I’. How-
ever, when he says ‘I’ after
waking up from the dream, he
does not refer to his dream self;
it is the awakened ‘I’.
The Infinite Consciousness,
conditioned by the body, mind
and intellect, plays the part of
the physical, emotional, and
intellectual entities in us. This
Pure Awareness or Conscious-
ness in me (aham) is the Pure
Infinite Consciousness in the
bosom of everybody else.
Thus, in the ultimate
analysis, ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’ is a
further explanation of prajïänaà
brahma – the Mahäväkya from the
Rigveda explained in the first
two verses. There it was said
that if prajïänam, the Conscious-
ness present everywhere, is
Brahman, then the Conscious-
ness present in me is also
Brahman – prajïänaà brahma
mayyapi. This logical conviction
is followed up with the
direct experience that ‘I am
Brahman.’
This experience at the time
of meditation is called anubhava
väkya. Jïäpakameva çästraà, na tu
kärakam – the scriptures can only
give information, they cannot
make you Brahman. By study-
ing the Çästra, we may get the
assurance that we are divine,
yet continue to be unhappy,
worried, agitated, bound to the
world outside with our attach-
ments. The more we struggle to
come out of it, the more the
knots tighten. This is due to
our identification with the body,
mind and intellect. By merely
reading, or listening to
discourses, one may feel that
one has understood the Mahä-
väkyas. One may even agree
intellectually with the writer or
the speaker. That does not
remove our sorrows.
Tapovan Prasad 14 July 2008
We can redeem ourselves
only through self-effort. It can
be done only in this body (asmin
çarére) and not after death. The
body and mind have to be
tuned up (vidyädhikäriëi), ready
to receive the supreme know-
ledge. The tuning is done by
cultivating viveka (discrimina-
tion), vairägya (dispassion), ñaò-
sampatti (the six treasures or
qualities) and mumukñutvam
(desire for Liberation) that we
have studied earlier.
Those who have cultivated
these qualities and turned the
mind inward may continue to
interact in the world outside,
while remaining aware of the
greater Reality all the time. The
mind cannot be tuned unless the
existing väsanäs are exhausted;
the väsanäs cannot get exhausted
unless we act in the world out-
side. But if we act in the world
outside driven by the väsanäs,
more and more väsanäs are cre-
ated. According to the third
chapter of the Gita, when the
ego and ego-centric desires are
eliminated from us as a result
of acting in a spirit of dedica-
tion and surrender in the world
outside, the väsanäs get
exhausted. No new väsanäs are
created. The mind becomes
purer. Thus through bhakti –
devotion, and through karma
yoga – acting and fulfilling our
duties in the world in a spirit of
dedication, the väsanäs get
exhausted; the mind becomes
purer, making this a vidyädhi-
käriëi çaréra, a body ready to
receive the Brahma Vidya.
Thus tuned up, you see not
just the thoughts, but that which
illumines the thoughts. When
we try to focus on the light of
Consciousness that illumines
the thoughts, our attention is
not on the thoughts. We become
aware of the light of Conscious-
ness to the exclusion of all
thoughts, emotions and percep-
tions. In that hushed moment
of contact with the Pure
Consciousness, the Awareness
in me will be recognised as the
Awareness present everywhere.
Tapovan Prasad 7 August 2008
Mahavakya
Viveka – 8
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
A
fter explaining the
Mahäväkyas from Rigveda
and Yajurveda, Swami Vidya-
ranya takes up for discussion
the Mahäväkya ‘tat tvam asi’ from
the Chandogya Upanishad in
Samaveda. There the Mahäväkya
is embedded in a story. Aaruni
had sent his son Shvetaketu to
the Gurukula to be educated.
When the boy returned, he went
around with a bloated head
thinking that he had understood
everything. The father asked
casually one day, “Son! You
must have studied everything
there.” The son replied proudly,
“Yes. The fourteen Sastras, the
Upapuranas, the Puranas – I have
learnt everything.” Gently the
father asked, “Did your teacher
tell you about that ‘Knowledge’
by knowing which all that is
unheard becomes heard, all
things unfelt become felt, all
that is not known becomes
known?”
The son’s attention was
caught immediately. He regret-
ted that it was not taught and
requested his father to give him
that Knowledge. The father
started from the beginning:
‘sadeva saumya idam-agra äsét
1
–
in the beginning, before all
creation, Existence alone was
there.’ Later the names and
1
Chandogya Upanishad, 6.2.1
Tapovan Prasad 8 August 2008
forms (näma-rüpa) were created.
So I exist, you exist, he exists,
the tree exists, the animal exists,
the stone exists, the sun,
the moon and the stars exist.
Existence is the common
denominator.
The shape of the wave,
bubble, foam and ripple rose
only from the ocean. The ocean
existed before all these forms
came up. The ocean will exist
even if they are not there, but
they can exist only in the ocean.
Similarly, before creation, Exist-
ence alone was there.
Then the father explains it in
nine different ways with differ-
ent examples. At each point the
teacher drives home the essen-
tial truth ‘tat tvam asi – That
thou art.’ Shvetaketu is told to
put some salt in the kamaëdalu
filled with water and check it
the next day. He finds no salt
there, but only water. The water
tastes salty whether from the
top or the bottom portion.
Through this the father teaches
him the lesson that Existence
permeates everything, though it
is not seen as such. ‘That thou
art.’ You are not the water, but
the salt that has gone into the
water, into its inter-molecular
spaces.
Next he explains it with the
example of the tiny seed of a
banyan tree. He asks the student
to open it up layer after layer,
the cotyledons, till there is noth-
ing more to peel. That ‘nothing’
he says is the banyan tree. That
is the primary shoot, the plume
and the radical. That insignifi-
cant imperceptible thing is the
source of the mighty banyan
tree. Thus nine different
examples are given. And the
teacher says: “O Shvetaketu,
dear son, tat tvam asi – That thou
art! You are not my son; you
are not the body, the mind or
the intellect. You are that Reality
alone. Realise it.”
Sastra is only jïäpakam, not
kärakam; it gives only the infor-
mation, it cannot transform you.
Tapovan Prasad 9 August 2008
Therefore each time the teacher
gave an example, the student
went back and contemplated on
it. But his mind was not pure
enough; therefore he could not
fathom that subtle Conscious-
ness, the essence of his own Self.
And therefore he came back to
the teacher nine times. The
teacher explained patiently until
he realised the Truth.
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 5
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ekamevädvitéyaà sat
nämarüpavivarjitam,
såñöeù purä’dhunä’pyasya
tädåktvaà taditéryate.
One alone, without a second,
pure Existence, without names and
forms, ‘sat’ was there before
creation, and it is so even now. It is
called ‘tad’ or ‘that’.
The first part of this verse is
a direct echo of the mantra in
the Chandogya Upanishad, where
Aaruni begins to teach his son
Shvetaketu: ‘sadeva saumya
idamagra äsét, ekameva advitéyam
– In the beginning there was
Existence alone, one without a
second.’ There was nothing
either like it or different from it
or other than it – sajätéya vijätéya
svagata bheda rahita vastu. This
implication of ‘advitéya’ (one
without a second) should
always be remembered. Sajätéya
means the distinction within a
species, as between man and
man; vijätéya is the distinction
between two species like man
and buffalo; svagata bheda is the
distinction within oneself like
the head and the legs, the eyes
and the hands etc.
Limited things will have
these distinctions. We can com-
pare and contrast them with
other things. But ‘sat’ – Pure
Existence that was there before
all creation – was one without a
second. In order to elucidate the
idea further, the teacher here
Tapovan Prasad 10 August 2008
explains it as nämarüpa vivarji-
tam – without any distinction of
names and forms. The forms
come into being only after
creation. And when the forms
come, we can give them names.
I cannot enquire the name of a
child that is yet unborn. Only
after the birth of the child, the
name is given. A name is neces-
sary only when the object is
already there. Before creation,
language was not necessary
because names were not there;
there was no ‘other’ to commu-
nicate with. Thus nämarüpa
vivarjitam means that the world
of names and forms was not
there, not yet created.
This Consciousness, this
‘pürëa vastu’, this ‘sat’, Pure
Existence, was one without a
second before creation (såñöeù
purä), and even now (adhunä api)
it is the same. This is because
the world of names and forms
is only a hallucination or a
projection (saìkalpa-vikalpa) of
the mind. Even while you are
seeing the ghost and getting
frightened, the reality behind it,
the post, remains changeless –
the post alone. But alas! the post
is not recognised. Therefore the
mind construes (saìkalpa) a
ghost and suffers its sorrows
(vikalpa). Even while I am
dreaming that I am the greatest
man in the world, I am nothing
but the unemployed person
starving by the roadside. I have
not changed. What I am in the
waking condition will not
change by the dream condition.
While the dream lasts, to the
dreamer, the dream is real, and
nothing else is real.
The entire world of names
and forms (nämarüpa jagat) is
only an adhyäsa – a superimpo-
sition. Superimposition means
projecting something on another
thing. Thereafter, the Reality is
not recognised because the
projection veils it. This trick of
the mind is called adhyäsa.
When the intellect is clouded
and cannot understand a thing
in its real nature, the mind
projects something else there,
Tapovan Prasad 11 August 2008
and we recognise only that
which we have projected, and
not things as they are in reality.
Thus, by not recognising, not
being aware of the pure
Consciousness in ourselves, the
mind, in its confusion, projects
a world of names and forms –
the BMI (body-mind-intellect),
the PFT (perceiver-feeler-
thinker) and OET (objects-
emotions-thoughts). And this
jagat (world) which is ever
changing gives all kinds of
sorrows to individuals. The
individual who is thus the
author of the saìkalpa and the
sufferer of the vikalpa is called
the individualised ego – you
and I.
Even now (adhunä api), if the
saìkalpa-vikalpa of the mind are
quietened, we can recognise the
Truth in the hushed state. Pure
Existence remains the same –
tädåk-eva. Even now, if the
causes for the projection of the
world of plurality – the mind
and the intellect in us – are
controlled, regulated, quietened
completely, and transcended,
we can experience Pure Exist-
ence as it was before creation.
Its nature (asya tädåktvam)
remains the same as it was
before creation, without names
and forms, one alone without a
second. This is called ‘tad’–
taditéryate.
Let us see it from another
angle. Even before creation,
there must have been something
out of which creation came into
being. It is impossible to create
something out of nothing. If
creation is there, it implies
something that existed before;
without a cause an effect is
Even now, if the causes
for the projection of the
world of plurality – the
mind and the intellect in
us – are controlled, regu-
lated, quietened completely,
and transcended, we can
experience Pure Existence
as it was before creation.
Tapovan Prasad 12 August 2008
impossible. This world is made
up of names and forms. So if
we remove the names and
forms, what is left? An unscien-
tific thinker would say that
‘nothing’ is left. If nothingness
alone was there earlier, how did
the names and forms come into
being? All of us say that things
‘are’. ‘The plate is there.’ ‘The
table is here.’ We experience the
existence of things. This ‘isness’
or ‘areness’ – this ‘Existence’
must have been there before
anything was created, before
names and forms were differ-
entiated. When the name and
the form of the plate are gone,
the existence or ‘isness’ alone
remains.
For example, there was only
space where this hall exists now.
Then, in that space, the build-
ing was made. The building and
the hall in the building exist in
space. We say that there is no
space inside the hall; outside
there is space. This outer or
inner space was not there before
the building was made; there
was only space. And that space
was not eliminated when the
building was made. Because of
the building, the space which
was one is now recognised as
inner and outer space. Similarly,
before creation, there must have
been Pure Existence, and that
Existence is there even today,
though ‘I’, ‘you’ and other
things also exist. If all these – I,
you, it etc. – are removed, Pure
Existence alone will be there.
This Pure Existence which was
there before creation, which
now expresses through creation,
is indicated by the word ‘tad’.
The teacher, Aaruni, started
the discourse by saying that
there was nothing but ‘Sat’ or
Existence before names and
forms were projected. Therefore
in the conclusion, when the
teacher says ‘tat tvam asi – That
thou art,’ the word ‘That’ refers
to the Pure Existence with
which the discussion started.
G
Tapovan Prasad 6 September 2008
Mahavakya
Viveka – 9
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 6
ïae tu de R he iNÔyatIt< vSTvÇ Tv< pde irtm! ,
@kta ¢aýte =sIit tdE Kymnu ÉU ytam! .
çroturdehendriyätétaà
vastvatra tvaà paderitam,
ekatä grähyate’séti
tadaikyam-anubhüyatäm.
That essence in the listener
which transcends his body and the
sense organs is referred to by the
word ‘you’ (tvam), and the word
‘are’ (asi) points out the oneness.
So the oneness (of the individual
Consciousness and the Supreme
Consciousness) is to be experi-
enced.
Çrotuù means the individual
who is listening, the disciple in
this case. The Teacher points out
that the word ‘you’ in the
Mahäväkya ‘tat-tvam-asi – That
you are,’ refers to the Pure Con-
sciousness in the disciple who
is listening to him; it is that
which transcends (atétaà) his
body (deha) and sense organs
(indriya). Here the sense organs
include the outer (bähyendriya or
bähyakaraëa) and the inner
(antarendriya or antaùkaraëa)
equipments. The essential
element in the listener without
which he cannot exist, and
which transcends the BMI
(body-mind-intellect) of the
listener, is the Reality, the
Supreme Truth, Pure Con-
sciousness.
When the Consciousness
functions through the body, we
become aware of the outer
world of objects, when it func-
tions through our mind, we
Tapovan Prasad 7 September 2008
become aware of our emotions
and when it functions through
the intellect, we become aware
of our thoughts. When we tran-
scend our own body, mind and
intellect, we can apprehend the
Pure Consciousness that func-
tions through our equipments.
In the first Mahäväkya, this
enlivening spirit in the indivi-
dual has already been explained
as the Pure Consciousness –
prajïänaà brahma mayyapi. In
ahaà brahmäsmi, ‘aham’ or ‘I’
was defined as the witness, the
light of Consciousness that illu-
mines all our thoughts. Now the
Teacher clarifies further that the
word ‘you’ does not refer to the
social identity, or the physical
equipment. In this context, the
word ‘you’ (tvaà pada) means
that vastu or Reality in the stu-
dent which transcends all his
outer instruments of perception
and the inner instruments of
experiences.
In the statement ‘tat-tvam-
asi’, the word ‘asi’ or ‘are’ means
that ‘tat’ (That) and ‘tvam’ (you)
are one and the same. In the
previous verse, ‘tat’ was
explained as that Pure Existence
which was before all Creation,
and remains the same even
now. All the created things and
beings are merely expressions of
that Pure Existence. These cre-
ations do not at all condition the
Consciousness that plays in and
through them. This Infinite Con-
sciousness, the Reality, the God
from whom all creations arose,
is indicated by the word ‘tat’ or
‘That’. That Pure Existence, the
Pure Consciousness, and the
Consciousness in you are one
and the same.
When we indicate someone
and say his name, we don’t
mean two different entities; they
are the same. Similarly, the
individual and the social iden-
tity are not different in a per-
son. Mr. X will also be a father,
husband, son etc. An army
officer, newly married, was
posted in the warfront. For one
and half years, he and his wife
communicated with each other
Tapovan Prasad 8 September 2008
only through letters. Finally, he
was granted leave. The captain
took the train for the return
journey with great joy and
enthusiasm. His eagerness was
so great that he could not even
sleep at night. When the train
steamed into the station, he was
leaning out to spot his kith and
kin. His old classmate, who
enjoyed playing pranks at the
expense of others, was there to
receive him. Seeing him, the
captain picked up his luggage,
jumped out of the train, and ran
to meet him. The friend looked
very morose. Though the
captain noticed this, in his joy
and eagerness, he burst forth,
“How is Sulochana?” The friend
did not respond immediately.
With a serious look, he merely
asked him to take the luggage
and proceed. Then slowly he
remarked, “Ah! Poor girl!” The
captain was really concerned
now, “What happened to her?”
The friend said sadly, “After all,
who would have imagined this
to happen to her when she is so
young!” The captain could
barely control himself, “What
happened?” The friend said
sorrowfully, ”She has become a
widow.” Listening to this, the
captain started crying aloud in
grief. This attracted the atten-
tion of others at the railway
station, and soon a crowd began
to gather around them.
Realising that things were likely
to get out of hand, the friend
decided to call off the show.
“Smile a little! How can your
wife be a widow when you, the
husband, are still alive?” He had
thoroughly enjoyed the prank
and the captain’s lack of
common sense. Mental halluci-
nation because of the lack of
correct thinking was the cause
of the captain’s grief.
Similarly, not knowing our
true nature as the infinite Self,
we are also weeping. When we
realise that the reality in us is
the Reality which was there
even before creation, and that
we are not contaminated in
spite of the creation of the world
Tapovan Prasad 9 September 2008
of plurality, all sorrows come to
an end. In the above story, the
captain and the husband of
Sulochana are one and the same,
but the captain forgot this fact
momentarily and thought she
had become a widow. When the
dvaita bhävanä (sense of duality)
came, he started weeping for
her. The remedy lay in the
removal of his misunderstand-
ing and the knowledge of
oneness – tattvamasi!
In the same way, I think of
myself as the individual ego,
cognise the world of plurality
outside me and suffer. I find
everything to be ephemeral
(anitya), impure (açuddha) and
inauspicious (açiva). I pray to
God, beg of Him to remove my
sufferings. The moment I under-
stand the advaita concept that
this Consciousness in me is
nothing but His grace, and that
God and His grace are not
separate, the world becomes
nitya çuddha mukta (eternal,
pure and free) here and now.
Hence understand that the
essence in you is the essence
everywhere.
With the word ‘anubhüyatäm
– may you come to experience’,
the Teacher indicates that all
that has been explained so far
is just information. The role of
the Sastra and the Teacher has
ended with the explanation of
the meaning of ‘tattvamasi’.
Now it is for the student to
experience it.
In Kenopanishad, the Teacher
says, “If you say you have
understood, you have under-
stood nothing.”
1
Understanding
is only an intellectual apprecia-
tion, just another thought added
to create more agitations in the
intellect. That which illumines
the thoughts is the Reality.
Hence the Teacher here exhorts
the student to experience the
oneness of the Truth in him with
the Truth behind the whole
universe.
1
Kenopanishad, 2. 1
Tapovan Prasad 6 November 2008
Mahavakya Viveka – 11
SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA
I
n the Mahäväkya ‘ayaà ätmä
brahma’, we have already
examined the meaning of the
terms ayam and ätmä in detail.
The next verse defines the word
‘brahma’.
Mahäväkya Viveka –
Verse 8
†ZymanSy svR Sy jgtStÅvmIyR te ,
äüzBde n tdœ äü
SvàkazaTmêpkm! .
dåçyamänasya sarvasya
jagatastattvaméryate,
brahmaçabdena tad brahma
svaprakäçätmarüpakam.
The essence of the entire visible
world is denoted by the word
Brahman. That Brahman is of the
nature of the self-shining Self.
Dåçyamänasya sarvasya means
all that is seen or perceived. In
the larger sense of the term, it
means not only the objects
perceived through the sense
organs, but also all that is
apprehended by the mind and
intellect. Through the sense
organs, the names and forms are
perceived at the physical level –
the sound, smell, touch, taste and
form. With the mind, we
perceive various emotions and
feelings. The intellect compre-
hends various thoughts, ideas,
ideals and abstract concepts.
The world (jagat) that we
know is made up of all these
perceptions.
The word jagat means ever-
changing. No experience in the
world is permanent. Mountains,
the sun, the earth and the ocean
may seem relatively permanent,
but actually the ocean is also
ever changing, and so are the
Tapovan Prasad 7 November 2008
mountains and other natural
phenomena. Thus everything in
the world is constantly chang-
ing, including our own percep-
tions, emotions and thoughts.
The friend today becomes the
enemy tomorrow. A staunch
socialist today may become a
power crazy person tomorrow.
Ideals change, ideas change,
thoughts change, emotions
change, the perceived world
changes. Even our instruments
of perception change. The world
is but a welter of changes and
this realm of change is called
jagat. Generally the word ‘jagat’
is merely translated as ‘world’,
but as students of Vedanta, we
must remember the definition
given by the Rishis: ‘jagati iti
jagat – that which is ever chang-
ing is jagat. ’
This world is constituted of
things that we perceive – the
total world of objects, the total
world of emotions, and the total
world of thoughts. This totality
is called jagat. Note that it is the
totality. No individual sees all
the things in the world. I see
only a limited number of
objects, I have limited emotions,
and limited thoughts. Together
they become my limited world.
You see different things, have
different thoughts and emo-
tions, and they form your tiny
little quarter plate of the uni-
verse Another person has a
third idea of the universe. The
total universe is the totality of
all the perceptions, emotions
and thoughts of all living
creatures. And this totality is
called jagat.
The tattva or reality behind
this entire universe is denoted by
the word ‘brahma’. In other
words, the changeless factor in
the midst of all changes is
Brahman. It is the presence of this
changeless factor that makes all
experiences possible; in its
absence no experience is ever
possible for anyone. It is the nitya
vastu (eternal thing) in the midst
of the changing phenomena, the
one factor of Consciousness in
the midst of inert, insentient
Tapovan Prasad 8 November 2008
matter.
1
Seek it within yourself.
That is meditation.
It is very difficult to pinpoint
this changeless factor in oneself
though each one of us is so sure
of the existence of ‘me’. I know
that I was a child once, then
became a young man, and have
grown old now. Who is the ‘I’
that knows all these changes?
When we analyse, we find that
in our childhood we were aware
of the childhood joys and
sorrows, in our young age we
were aware of the experiences
of youth, and in old age we are
aware of the experiences of old
age. In joy, we are aware of
joy; in sorrow, we are aware of
it; in disappointment we are
aware of it – this awareness
is the common factor every-
where.
It is Consciousness that
illumines the revelry of child-
hood, the vivacity of youth, the
disappointments of middle-age,
and the tragedies of old age. The
one constant factor among all
these changes is the Light of
Consciousness. That alone could
be me, logically. Childhood,
youth, old age, happiness and
unhappiness are all merely the
objects of my Consciousness.
This common denominator is
the fulcrum that is constant in
every one, in every experience,
at all times and conditions, in
all places and historical periods.
It is this that is indicated by the
word Brahman (brahmaçabdena
éritaù). This is the tattvam, the
Reality, the substratum, behind
the entire world of change
perceived by all the living
creatures.
This Brahman, the Reality
that we have been discussing,
is self-effulgent, the very nature
of our own Self (svaprakäça-ätma-
rüpakam). It is also the essential
and real nature of all living
creatures. Ayaà ätmä brahma –
This ätman in me is the Brahman
everywhere.
1
Kathopanishad, 2. 2. 13
Tapovan Prasad 9 November 2008
Conclusion
Thus, in these four Mahä-
väkyas, the cream of the Upani-
shads, the essence of the advaita
experience of all mystics, is
summarised. The order of
presentation in the Panchadasi is
according to the sequence of the
Vedas – Rigveda, Yajurveda, Sa-
maveda and Atharvanaveda. From
the standpoint of a seeker, the
arrangement is slightly differ-
ent. The first Mahäväkya: ‘prajïä-
nam brahma – Consciousness is
Brahman’ is the definition of the
Truth. The student is told that
the Consciousness by which he
becomes aware of everything is
God. He goes away to think and
meditate about this because his
idea of God and religion was
very different. Then he comes
back and asks the Teacher
where and how he can contact
God. The Teacher says, ‘tat-
tvam-asi – That you are.’ That
God you are talking of now, as
if He is far away, is none other
than you. The student is under-
standably bewildered, and
again goes back to meditate.
How can I, a limited creature,
be God? Slowly he puts the two
Mahäväkyas together. Brahman is
Consciousness (prajïänam), and
the teacher says that I am God.
So the Consciousness in me that
illumines all my experiences
must be God. If I eliminate all
the objects from my mind, pure
Consciousness alone will
remain. Thus, when the mind is
quietened in the seat of medita-
tion, the student understands
that this Ätmä is Brahman – ayaà
ätmä brahma. This is his experi-
ence (anubhava). The Conscious-
ness in me is the Consciousness
everywhere. After this he goes
to the Teacher again. The
Teacher wants to confirm if he
has truly understood. The
student is dumbstruck. How
can he say that he is God? And
yet, the words tumble out:
“ahaà brahmäsmi - I am Brah-
man!” The Teacher understands
that this is the thunderous roar
of Realisation.
(Concluded)

the Mahäväkyas. Swami Vidyaranya, the author of Panchadasi, has not gone into the deeper significance of the Mahäväkyas in the way it is discussed in the Brahma Sutras. He has confined himself to the definitions of the words used in these great declarations of the Vedas for the sake of beginners. However, even to understand these verses and digest the meaning, a certain amount of fundamental knowledge is required. So we have to prepare ourselves to receive this Knowledge.

Swami Vidyaranya
Swami Vidyaranya, the mighty diplomat-saint, who was the prime minister of the Vijayanagar empire, lived his entire lifetime in activity in the world outside, and achieved what an ordinary man could not even dream of in those days – in the political field, in the field of military might, in the field of administration and in the field

of writing. He was an ardent student of literature; not only did he write books, but also mastered our philosophy, had satsaìg every day, and with the help of other Acharyas and scholars, mastered the Vedas and Vedäntic literature, until at last he could even write a commentary on all the four Vedas. This commentary is so good that there is a traditional story about how he went to Benaras after his retirement, and had the darçan of Veda Vyasa on the banks of the Ganga, offered him the manuscript of his commentary on the Vedas and said, “Sir! Glad that I met you. Please go through this work and tell me whether it is worth publishing – whether it is blasphemous, whether I have understood the Vedas properly, because after all I have had a lot of official duties continually, and therefore did not have the kind of single-pointed attention necessary for the study of the

Tapovan Prasad

11

January 2008

Upanishads or the Vedas. You are Veda Vyasa himself, so please have a look and tell me.” It is said that Veda Vyasa looked into it and in one sitting read through the entire commentary, with probably a blue pencil in hand to cut out a few pages, but it seems that he did not change even a comma or a full-stop. Therefore it is said that Veda Vyasa himself, out of sheer admiration, called this mighty master ‘Vidyaranya’ – a forest of knowledge. Later on, after his saànyäsa dékñä, having been recognised as one of the spiritual masters, great thinkers and erudite scholars in this country, he was invited to be the Pontiff, the Chief Acharya of the Sringeri Math. Thus he remained the Sringeri Sankaracharya for many years, and his samädhi sthäna near the temple is available even today in Sringeri. This great master was not a person who had studied only the Vedas and closed his eyes to the society; he was an adept in political administration, was one of the greatest diplomats of his time, who had lots of duties to discharge. Having exhausted his väsanäs of rajoguëa in his busy life, he turned to the sättvic life of a saànyäsé, and in his
Tapovan Prasad 12

maturity, wrote Panchadasi.

the

book

Panchadasi
Panchadasi means fifteen, païca is five, and daça ten. It is a book containing fifteen chapters. In Panchadasi, Swami Vidyaranya is not discussing the Vedas, nor is he discussing any of the other topics he has written on, like the duties of man in society, the society’s duty towards man etc. Here he has discussed only the great prakriyas, the technical terms used in the Upanishads. He has expounded them in such a beautiful fashion that it has become in itself a textbook of Vedänta. There are many people who study only the Panchadasi, with the elaborate commentaries available from later teachers, in order to understand the Upanishadic philosophy clearly and appreciate the deeper meanings of our Scriptures and our culture. Panchadasi is generally taught in the beginning before the student starts the study of the Upanishads. After teaching all the eleven Upanishads with the bhäñyas by Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, or Madhvacharya, the teacher takes up the Panchadasi again as a concluding text. Then
January 2008

It throws a flood of light on all the Upanishads studied earlier. when the teacher explains to us what the Reality is. Each one is taken from one Veda. thus from the four Vedas four statements are taken. while the deeper imports of the Upanishads become clear when it is studied again at the end. indicating the Reality of life. These four statements explain the great Reality behind this pluralistic world that we find so fascinatingly beautiful. and the Atharvanaveda. Sentences are made up of words expressing rounded ideas. it holds an importance comparable to what is called ‘a commandment’ in other religions. the Samaveda. and these mighty statements occur in the Upanishads. meaning sentences. and they are explained by the four Vedas. he also has to explain what we are at this moment. all the text books available in our Çästras. are called Mahäväkyas. the Yajurveda. A Mahäväkya is literally ‘a great statement’. Mahäväkyas In the Vedas there are väkyas. In this book we are going to study the fifth chapter. These Mahäväkyas are culled from the four Vedas – the Rigveda. are explanations of this one mighty Truth. called Mahäväkya Prakarana. but Tapovan Prasad 13 January 2008 . So väkya is a sentence expressing a clear definite idea.the student finds that with the first reading of the Panchadasi he had understood only certain technical terms. In each Veda there are Upanishads. The Non-dual Truth Not only is the essential Reality in us to be indicated. The sentences that depict this Truth directly in the form of a mantra with minimum words. So all the Upanishads as well as the Vedas. Further. There are four great commandments in Hinduism.

and objects. It is deça käla vastu aparicchinnaù – unconditioned by place. The Rishi is explaining to Shvetaketu that there is only one Self. because there is one thing I worry about. Vedänta. time.4 when the given factor is not conditioned by anything. and the relationship between the two pointed out. as you all know. preaches advaita. subtle. They are all vikära – modifications of one Tapovan Prasad 14 January 2008 . The Truth is non-dual. no otherness. and so my happiness is not pürëa. Adi Sankaracharya championed the idea of non-duality. then the Reality in me cannot be different from that Infinite Reality. mud or clay alone is the Reality. because there cannot be two such Realities that are non-dual! Projections of the Mind This great substratum upon which the names and forms are playing about is explained in Chandogya Upanishad2 –‘väcärambhaëaà vikäro nämadheyaà måttiketyeva satyam’ – all modifications are only words and labels. and therefore pürëa. 6. They are merely words and labels for different functions. which means ‘dvaitaà na vidyate – where there is no dvaita (duality)’. My happiness is not pürëa.1. if there is a pürëa vastu. as the Upanishadic Rishis in their mystic experiences discovered and expounded to us. that worry is conditioning my happiness. and so on. we mean full. Thus. allpervading. a Reality. That which is conditioned or limited is not pürëa. The word pürëa is used only 1 pürëamadaù pürëamidam – Ishavasya Upanishad 2 Chandogya Upanishad. the various names and forms that are seen are nothing but the one Brahman alone.1 When we say pürëa. meaning infinite.the mightier Reality behind the whole universe is also to be explained. and no multiplicity.

thinker) and OET (objects. No. they have different names. a jar. a jug. This Reality is expressed in different forms. there is the manifestation of PFT (perceiver. Kalpanä means imagination and projection. as also in Atma Bodha. mind and intellect. emotions. This kalpanä can be removed easily if it is a very thin kalpanä – ‘I thought that it was a ghost. The Teacher says that the very PFT and the OET that you see because of the BMI (body.’ Here the kalpanä was not strong.and the same Truth. but they are all essentially nothing but mud. it is nothing after all. whether it is a big wave. But Tapovan Prasad 15 January 2008 . This is explained clearly in the later portions of Vivekachoodamani where the Teacher says that matter is not separate from Reality. when the spirit functions. or foam – all of them are nothing but the ocean. Saìkalpa vikalpätmikä manaù – the function of the mind is saìkalpavikalpa. which are none other than the names of those distinct forms. Using these examples. like a bowl. through which. When this kalpanä is very intense and powerful. In the beginning of Vivekachoodamani. It is a kalpanä. and mud alone. the thoughts you imagine are projected and grossified in the world outside like the ghost that you see in fear. or a plate. the one Reality. mind. Similarly. thoughts). froth. in the ocean. a pot. The essential Reality is one and the same. feeler. a mere ripple. The pots are of different shapes and sizes. it is said that we have the equipments of the body. all our great Acharyas of yore tried to explain that you and I in the names and forms are nothing else but the Pure Consciousness. These names indicate only the different forms and the different usages of a thing. intellect) is only because of a projection of the mind.

when I understand the Eternal Tapovan Prasad 16 January 2008 . Not a bit of the ghost can ever be there once you recognise the post. Thus we see that the very equipments of experience. and the vikalpas are our own imaginations rebounding upon us. but also the very equipments of projection. The mind projects not only the objects of perception OET. Only those who identify with the subtler realms in their personality can ignore the body – like a great warrior in the moment of action. Thus the mind is of the nature of saìkalpa and vikalpa. when you understand the post in the ghost. as a result. If you ask him. I perceive the object and identify with it and. therefore the body is insignificant for him. the BMI. while saìkalpas are objective. The post alone remains. none of the pieces of the ghost can ever be there in the post! The ghost does not run away leaving its kerchief behind! It is not possible. a person in the midst of organising a big event. Similarly. causing disturbance in the mind. These are called vikalpa. “How does it matter? The ideal will remain. we will not believe it because we have identified with it so much that we do not know any existence beyond the realm of the body.” He has identified with the ideal. Saìkalpas are the objective projections of our imagination. Therefore. If anyone tells us that this body is only a projection of the mind.some people have the kalpanä so powerfully that the object of their imagination is conjured up right in front of them. when you come face to face with the Truth. After the saìkalpa. when I have projected some thought with the mind. experience mental disturbances.” he would say. are also a projection of the mind. “Aren’t you taking a big risk? You may even die in the process. or one who is ready to give up his life for some great ideal. the BMI. Thus vikalpas are subjective.

Reality, all these projections will end. All imaginations and imagination-created disturbances will end, and nothing but the Pure Consciousness will remain. This is the väda, the argument, or the conclusion of the advaita philosophy.

Objections of the Dvaitins
The dvaitins find it very difficult to accept this. When the teachers explain the prakriyas and say that the jéva or the individuality is created as a result of the pure spirit functioning through the BMI, the dvaitins accept it easily. They say, “O Sankara! You are not saying anything new. You are only saying that matter cannot function by itself. It is inert and insentient and can function only by the grace of the Lord, and the Lord is in the heart of everybody. You call that Lord of ours by a new word ‘Ätman’. We have no objection at all. And that Ätman, functioning through

the equipments, identifying with the body, mind and intellect, is the manifestation of the individuality and the world around. Admitted! But O Sankara! Are you not now accepting two factors – Ätman, the Self that is the source of all functions and all activity; and the equipments constituted of dead matter through which there is the manifestation of the world and the individuality? How can you call it ‘advaita’ philosophy? It is actually dvaita, because there are two things – the world of matter and the Spirit that you call one without a second. It cannot be ‘one without a second’ because matter has to be there for the spirit to function.” Sankara and the Vedäntins concede the existence of matter, but say that matter is nothing but an imaginary projection of the mind, and therefore transcending the mind, when one reaches the level of the spirit, matter is no more. When

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the dream is ended, not only does the dreamer become the waker, but the entire world of OET is also understood to be nothing but the waker. Here the dvaitins ask whether the advaitins deny the existence of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. “You say that there is no matter at all in Brahman. But isn’t there a God?” The Vedäntins say that God is also that same Supreme Reality functioning through the total equipments of the body, mind and intellect – the samañöi. When the Supreme functions through the total physical equipments, the gross body (sthüla çaréräbhimäné), it is called Viräö. When the Supreme functions through the total mind and intellect, the subtle body, it is called Hiraëyagarbha. When the total infinite Consciousness functions through the total causal body, the expression is called Éçvara. Thus Éçvara, Hiraëyagarbha and Viräö are all expressions of the same infinite Consciousness through the total equipment. When the samañöi and the vyañöi, the macrocosmic and the microcosmic equipments, are removed, what remains is the Infinite Reality, One without a second – the Infinite Oneness alone. Even Éçvara or the concept
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of God is the conditioned Brahman alone, facilitating the mind to conceive the possibility of these infinite, mighty powers. Thus, when the Infinite is perceived through the limited equipments of the body, mind and intellect, it can be conceived only as Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara – the mighty Creator, Sustainer and Destroyer of the world of plurality. However, once I understand that the plurality is nothing but the Pure Consciousness, there is no question of a Sustainer any more, nor a Creator or a Destroyer. What can the Creator create, the Sustainer sustain, or the Destroyer destroy when all is but the Pure Consciousness? This one Infinite Reality alone remains. This is the advaita conclusion.

Preparation for the Study
Naturally, therefore, the experience of the mystic is totally opposed to our experiences of the pluralistic world. His experience of life as pure, blissful, serene, and tranquil is quite opposed to our experience of life as a field of strife and competition, a world of pains and pangs. Naturally, when these great Acharyas express
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their infinite experience in the language of the common man, people understand only the ordinary meaning of the words; they are unable to comprehend the indicative meaning of the words pointing out the Supreme Reality. So the Mahäväkyas need the commentary of the Upanishads, and they in turn need the elaborate bhäñyas (commentaries) by Sankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya and other Acharyas. People find it difficult to understand these commentaries also; so there are notes on the commentaries, and people like us move about in the world to explain those notes. We merely explain the footnotes! Footnotes are to explain the commentaries of Sankara, Ramanuja and Madhvacharya; commentaries are to explain the Upanishads, which themselves are only expounding the ideas in the Mahäväkyas, and it is those Mahäväkyas that we are going to study now. Naturally, therefore, we will have to skip

over the footnotes as well as the commentary and go into the Upanishads and jump over the mantras and try to understand what is the significance of the Mahäväkyas. If the Mahäväkyas are to be studied properly, you should have mastered all the Upanishads. Their statements must be on the tip of your tongue. You can understand the full import of the Mahäväkyas only if you know fully and remember perfectly all the Upanishads and the great statements the way the Rishis have expounded them in the Upanishads. If you don’t understand the Mahäväkyas fully, I would not hold you at fault, because having understood the Mahäväkyas there is nothing more for you to understand. Since we have not reached that far, we may not understand all the significances, but we will try to understand a little at least, assuming that we have studied the Upanishads sufficiently. G

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Yajurveda and Samaveda respectively (two verses each). the three words clearly delineating Liberation: ayam – this. ätmä – Ätman. the anxieties of the mind. he is naturally released from the demands and the imperfections of these equipments. When the individual’s identification with these equipments comes to an end. the individuality in me. the first six verses were devoted to the Mahäväkyas from the Rigveda. tossed about by the endless demands of the body. This unconditioned pure Consciousness in an individual is Brahman: ‘ayaà ätmä brahma – This Ätman is Brahman. or the agitations of the intellect. This is called the mukti-väkya. is functioning as an ego-centric entity. In the last two verses. Such a person is no more a victim of the passions of the body.Mahavakya Viveka – 10 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA n this chapter on Mahäväkya Viveka in the Panchadasi. the Mahäväkya – ‘ayaà ätmä brahma’ – from the Mandukya Upanishad in Atharvanaveda is explained. mind and the intellect.’ Tapovan Prasad 11 October 2008 . This is a moment when the individual becomes mukta – liberated. At present. conditioned by the BMI (body-mind-intellect). The individual personality discovers its identity with the universal Conscious- I ness. brahma – (is) Brahman.

The sun cannot shine in the overpowering light of the Self (Ätman). So also. Ah»araid dehaNtat! àTygaTmeit gIyte. The word ‘this’ (ayam) refers to the self-effulgent and subjective nature of the Self. illumined by that Light all this shines.15) and Mundako- Neither the sun nor the moon shines there. ahaìkärädi dehäntät pratyagätmeti géyate.2. It is not the physical light which is an object of our Consciousness. The famous mantra that occurs both in Kathopanishad (2. svaprakäçäparokñatvam ayamityuktito mataà.10) explains this point clearly: n tÇ sUyaeR Éait n cNÔtark< nema iv*utae ÉaiNt k…tae=ymi¶>. how then can this fire? Everything shines after that Light (of the Self) alone. it is the Consciousness which illumines even this external light perceived by us. That which is the innermost from the individual ego up to the body is known as the Self. the stars and lightning cannot shine in the presence of the self-effulgent Consciousness.Mahäväkya Viveka Verse 7 Svàkazaprae]Tv< AyimTyui´tae mt<. How then can Tapovan Prasad 12 October 2008 . Svaprakäça means selfeffulgent. tmev ÉaNtmnuÉait sv¡ tSy Éasa svRimd< ivÉait. neither the stars nor the lightning shine. Electricity cannot show its wonders there. just as the flame of a candle cannot shine in the brilliance of sunlight. the moon. na tatra süryo bhäti na candra-tärakaà nemä vidyuto bhänti kuto’yamagniù.5. The self-effulgent pure Consciousness is the light that illumines all our experiences within and outside our body. In fact. tameva bhäntam-anubhäti sarvaà tasya bhäsä sarvamidaà vibhäti. panishad (2.

Further. of good or bad. People often misunderstand this as physical light and say that they see a brilliant light in their meditation! This is what happens when one studies the Shastras without the help of a Guru. leave alone the Consciousness within us that illumines everything else. where there is Consciousness. It is generally indicated by words like prakäça (Light) and caitanya (Consciousness). With such a background. This Awareness or Consciousness that illumines all experiences is the pure Self. bad or indifferent – are illumined only by the supreme Awareness in each one of us. that goodness or badness. in the absence of Consciousness. That which illumines even the sun must be much more powerful than the sun.this small fire – the lamp or burning camphor with which we worship the Lord – illumine Him? The sunlight can only illumine the surface of objects. Whenever I say that I have an experience of joy or sorrow. when you meditate. All the experiences – good. This is how the glory of Vishnu is described when he appeared in front of Dhruva. there alone experience is possible. our experiences gathered through the senses are made vividly clear only by the light of Consciousness. it cannot illumine the insides of the objects. We become aware of the sunlight only because of the light of Consciousness in us. In fact. experience is not possible. our five senses that illumine the objects of the world outside cannot illumine the Consciousness within. Tapovan Prasad 13 October 2008 . The Puranas use poetic expressions like ‘a thousand suns’ to explain this subtle idea of supreme Consciousness to the ordinary person. Thus. I am conscious of that joy or sorrow.

it just removes darkness. It is the Light of lights – jyotiñämapitajjyotiù tamasaù paramucyate (Gita. it is not the light of the sun or the moon or the star or the crescent. there is a cause. The Upanishads often use the word prakäça (Light) to describe the Ätman. Modern science explains light energy. Worldly light cannot illumine darkness.7). and we must understand the full import of this word. 13. I am conscious of the sunlight. there is no darkness. The sunlight cannot illumine darkness. and to see the darkness a torch is not necessary. where a torch is lit. its frequency etc. But Consciousness is self- Tapovan Prasad 14 October 2008 . For all other lights. This Light illumines all light as well as darkness. Therefore the Consciousness in me must be much more brilliant than the sunlight. lightning. because wherever the sun is present. Consciousness is the subtle light which can illumine dark- ness without removing or adding anything. It is the limitation of sunlight! It has never seen darkness. In the Quran also the Lord is described as Light. In fact.naturally you see a blinding light! Someone told me that the light came from the right and floated away to the left! How can the all-pervading Brahman come from the right and go away to the left? Think! Who saw the light that came floating? It was the light of Consciousness that lit up the whole scene. Darkness cannot be seen by any light. fire and other such phenomena. But our Consciousness is so subtle that it can see both light and darkness. there can be no darkness. A torch cannot illumine the lights in the hall where we are sitting. in the context of sunlight. Both light and darkness are the objects of my Consciousness. However. ‘Consciousness’ or ‘Awareness’ is the light by which I come to know that in this room there is light and in that room there is darkness.

this is the first cause. and para means others. even if the dreamer sees the waker. then wherever I go. it is not caused by anything. the svaprakäça paramätmä? That which is an effect can be recognised. If at all he realises the waker. but Awareness itself. We wake into ‘It’. If I were to go searching for Swami Chinmayananda. A dreamer can never be taken to the waker. he is not awakened because he still believes that he is the dreamer. By its very nature it is the illuminator of everything – svaprakäça. whatever I do. Paramätmä is not an object of awareness. Everything else in the universe is an effect. We can make it an object of our awareness. Badrinath. It is not created. Mecca. I can never meet Swami Chinmayananda. So also. in the hushed silence of contemplation. I will certainly be disappointed. we search for the svaprakäça paramätmä in Kashi. it is second-hand information or objective knowledge. without realising that He is our very own Self! The svaprakäça paramätmä is aparokña – we can only realise Him subjectively as our own Self. Swami Chinmayananda is never far away from me. When all the excitements of the body. the uncaused cause! How can we see the selfeffulgent Consciousness. we desperately seek this self-effulgent Consciousness everywhere. Aparokñam means subjective realisation.effulgent. he becomes Tapovan Prasad 15 October 2008 . this pure Consciousness becomes self-evident. It is I myself! So. with the sole ambition to prostrate to him. but is the very cause from which everything else has emerged. because he is not an object other than me. Akñam means eyes. mind and intellect are quietened. and the dream conditions of sorrow are his. so parokñam is knowledge through others’ eyes. Madina or Jerusalem. even when I am dejected and disappointed at not having met him.

this svaprakäça paramätmä can be known only through a subjective. and the dreamer is no more. discovering himself to be the waker. Similarly. direct experience. or of the intellect. the emotions and thoughts cannot Tapovan Prasad 16 October 2008 . not a far off thing.the waker. The absolute ‘this’. It is not a thing that can be perceived by the eyes or the ears or the nose or the tongue or the skin. the intellect and the innermost väsanäs. with reference to which everything else is ‘that’. It is closer than the body. This svaprakäça paramätmä is the antarätmä. and not an object. Generally. In fact. He is democratic. we use the word ‘that’ to indicate something far away. is the Self – ayaà ätmä. it is the nearest to you. the individuality ends. It is not something that we can intellectually understand and comprehend. It is indicated as ‘this’ because it is aparokña. We do not recognise Him. That is why the word ‘ayam’ (this) is used: ‘ayaà ätmä brahma’ – this Ätmä is Brahman. He is so near to us that we ignore Him. then the PFT (perceiver-feelerthinker) ends. The body. direct becoming. When the BMI (body-mindintellect) drops its entanglements. God is not in a heaven far away. the five sense organs. its attachment and preoccupation with the OET (objects-emotions-thoughts). It is a direct apprehension. ruling the world like a tyrant. the innermost Self in us. and ‘this’ to refer to something relatively nearer. It is not something that we can feel with our heart or the mind. The dreamer awakes to another plane of consciousness. And that is the moment when we float into the ethereal climbs of this inner sense of tranquillity. because it is the very subject in you. the Reality. the mind. or of the mind. available to every one of us as our very Self. It can never be the object of your sense organs.

and no other light is necessary to illumine it. the supreme self-effulgent Ätmä continues to shine. ‘Inner’ and ‘outer’ are only in relation to the equipment of BMI with which the student is identifying himself. to read a book. refers to the all-pervading Consciousness as the antarätmä or pratyagätmä – the innermost Self. no other light is necessary – na dépasya anya dépecchä. Hence it is called pratyagätmä– the inner Self.2 To know other objects.fathom the very subject. But the light continues to shine even when all of them and all of us are gone. the Consciousness that enlivens them all. verse 29 1 and equipments of experience. Consciousness is self-effulgent. his own familiar realm of experiences annamaya. in his compassion. meaning the core. G Tapovan Prasad 17 October 2008 . by becoming the very Self ayaà ätmä brahma. To see a burning lamp. the Teacher calls the Self the ‘innermost’. with reference to the student’s own projections. immutable. the very essential pivot around which the païcakoças1 (the five sheaths) function. a light is necessary. and in order to make him understand. knows that the student thinks of himself as the BMI (body-mind-intellect). vijïänamaya and änandamaya koça. Though the Ätmä is allpervading. To know the sun no other sun is necessary. to see a table or a chair. Similarly. one without a second (advaita vastu). One may ask why it is called the ‘inner Self’ when it is actually the all-pervading Consciousness. It can be experienced only subjectively. The student may still be doubtful how he can know this Consciousness when all the objects and equipments he is familiar with are removed. 2 Atma Bodha. präëamaya. The Teacher. manomaya. a separate individual entity at this moment.

It is known as abhyäsa väkya.Mahavakya Viveka – 2 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA he Mahäväkyas that point out the Great Reality. it is the smallest chapter in the Panchadasi. Now our effort is to understand – not the discourses. Mahätmäs give discourses. l ‘Tat-tvam-asi’ from Chandogya Upanishad in the Samaveda. It is called the mukti väkya. l ‘Ayaà ätmä brahma’ from Mandukya Upanishad in the T Atharvanaveda. Tapovan Prasad 8 February 2008 . Titled Mahavakya Viveka. The commentaries upon the Upanishads are called bhäñyas. the Supreme Truth. not the commentaries. These four Mahäväkyas are explained in the Panchadasi in eight verses that are very simple. His notes contain such terse logic that others have had to provide further notes on them! To make us understand these. l ‘Ahaà brahmäsmi’ from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in the Yajurveda. It is called upadeça väkya. There are some editions of these Upanishads where we find notes on these commentaries. Students will understand them to the extent they have developed the contemplative faculties. The Mahäväkyas are listed below in the order of the Upanishads in which they occur: l ‘Prajïänaà brahma’ from Aitareya Upanishad in the Rigveda. This is called anubhava väkya. but carry deep implications on serious study. like those of Anandagiri. are discussed in eight verses in the fifth chapter of the Panchadasi.

and the entire Upanishad is an exposition of this Mahäväkya. we cannot use them in meditation as a boat to cross over the confusions of our mind. the very fundamental declarations common in all the Vedas – the Mahäväkyas. When we have withdrawn ourselves Tapovan Prasad 9 February 2008 . and it is possible to bring out the hidden potential with training. that I have great potential. I am a noble soul.not the notes. But all of a sudden if you say that I am the Supreme. The two words ‘prajïänaà brahma’ constitute a Mahäväkya. is not acceptable. This again is a very brief statement consisting only of two words. If someone tells me that I am the King of India. Ahaà Brahmäsmi The second Mahäväkya ‘ahaà brahmäsmi – I am Brahman’ occurs in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in Yajurveda. Hence it is called an abhyäsa väkya. I can accept it. not even the Upanishadic mantras. The teacher gives this Mahäväkya to the student. the student finds it very difficult to understand. and we are likely to get confused by it. In this chapter of the Panchadasi. who has to think about it and do the abhyäsa (practice of contemplation). constantly keeping in mind this statement that the great Truth is the Consciousness in me and the Consciousness in you. I will wonder if something is wrong with that person! I can’t accept the statement because there is a huge disparity between what it says and what I am at this moment. because I know it. Unless we understand the basic meaning of these Mahäväkyas. Prajïänaà Brahma Prajïänaà brahma from the Aitareya Upanishad in the Rigveda defines Truth as prajïänaà – Consciousness. Swami Vidyaranya is trying to explain to us what exactly these words connote. If you tell me that I am human. but the salient corner-stone of Hinduism.

Indra. and so the second great statement. He realises that he cannot be the mind. Ayaà Ätmä Brahma The Mahäväkya ‘ayaà ätmä brahma – This Self is Brahman. The Logical Progression The link between the Mahäväkyas can be understood better when we visualise a situation. It is right within him. This is the mukti väkya or the final declaration. already explained to him. or the intellect. to be practically experienced. The Consciousness in him is the Consciousness present everywhere. This is the profound instruction given by the teacher to the student to meditate upon. Krishna. the thunderous roar of experience. the Supreme Consciousness. I must know the deep significance of the words which are expounded in this short chapter. “Where is this Consciousness?” So he comes back to the Teacher. The Teacher says that Consciousness is not in Kashi or Rameshwar where he can go on a pilgrimage and find it. we can contemplate upon these Mahäväkyas. the upadeça väkya ‘tat tvaà asi – That you are. the Moon.’ The student goes to the banks of the Ganga. or the body. is to be found in the student’s own innermost Self. The Teacher says that the Supreme Truth.’ is from the Mandukya Upanishad in Atharvanaveda. Vishnu – they are not the Infinite Reality. He cannot be the gross (sthüla) or the subtle (sükñma) or the causal body (käraëa çaréra).’ is given out.from the sensuous appetites of the flesh and mastered the mind in preparation. The student comes to the Teacher in confusion. Siva.’ is revealed. Varuna. In his mind the question arises. or the väsanäs. February 2008 . contemplates deeply upon it and negates everything known – the Sun. and the Tapovan Prasad 10 Teacher says that this great Truth you are seeking is nothing but prajïänaà – ‘Consciousness is Brahman. After this the student goes away and once again contemplates on the statement ‘I am the Pure Consciousness’. ‘Ahaà brahmäsmi’ is an anubhava väkya. Vayu. Tat Tvaà Asi In the Chandogya Upanishad from Sama Veda. They help us in our higher flights into the realms of Consciousness. In order to meditate upon the Mahäväkyas. the upadeça väkya ‘tat tvaà asi – That thou art.

“Have you got any more doubts? What is Truth?” The student does not know how to express it. Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa Vision Thus. where there is no otherness at all. “ayaà ätmä brahma – this Atman in me is Brahman. the five koças and meditates on the fact that he is nothing but Pure Consciousness.” That ‘I’ which I thought to be the PFT. and he cries out in the ecstatic personal experience of the Self. the Supreme Reality. and the consequent agitations in my mind.Slowly he goes beyond the three bodies. is no more the PFT. thoughts). whom I earlier thought to be the PFT or the individuality in my confusion. intellect). feeler. imagination and identification with what was imagined. the Infinite Consciousness. I misunderstood myself to be a limited creature in the world. the substratum of the whole.” This is the anubhava. In nirvikalpa Tapovan Prasad 11 February 2008 . the PFT (perceiver. mind. the projection. When you have liberated yourself from all other equipments of matter – the BMI (body. thinker). due to saìkalpa-vikalpa. when he goes to the Teacher. I have realised that I am none other than the Pure Infinite Consciousness. This is the experience of nirvikalpa samädhi. at that moment ‘ayaà ätmä brahma’ is the experience in the seat of meditation. and he says: “ahaà brahmäsmi. and the OET (objects. I have no more attachment or identification with the equipments. emotions. In savikalpa samädhi the experience is ayaà ätmä brahma. because once the equipments have been tran- scended. the Teacher asks. is I myself. At that moment I came to realise that this Brahman. Then the Truth dawns on him. After that. Now the saìkalpa-vikalpa has ended because the mind has been transcended.

Anyone with a dictionary in hand and a little knowledge of Sanskrit can know the literal meaning or the väcyartha. pointing out the Supreme Truth. lakñyärtha is the indicative meaning. Naturally these words contain not only the väcyärtha. Väcyärtha and Lakñyärtha The Mahäväkyas are words arising from the shimmering heat of experience of the masters at the seat of meditation. They had the courage to put to test the conclusions they arrived at as a result of endless observations. but one can also become utterly confused. These first-hand experiences of philosophical truths resulted in the transcendental declarations called the Mahäväkyas. burnt down their limited identity as individuals and risen to the heights of Supreme Infinitude. In these few words the mighty masters tried to express what they had experienced as the Infinite Truth behind the world of meaningless quarrels and endless sorrows. nothing other than the Truth exists. but it is I myself.’ So simple! But the questions come up: What is Tapovan Prasad 12 February 2008 . including me. but also the lakçyärtha. discussions. Not that I realised the Truth and it is an object other than me. without any sense of otherness – ananyatayä. I don’t exist separately. ‘Ahaà brahma asmi – I am Brahman. Even a dictionary is not necessary to understand the superficial meaning of simple words like ‘tat tvaà asi – That thou art.’ I am not ‘me’. when they have transcended their equipments. it is ahaà brahmäsmi. Väcyärtha means the word meaning or the dictionary meaning. but I am ‘That’ and ‘That’ is God! Not only does one fail to understand the full import of the simple words.samädhi. and logical thinking. This is the crucial or final experience of all great mystic scholars.

Then he was ‘my son’. that son is this Swami sitting in front of you!” That son. Once we understand the meaning. the entity who was the child is the Swami now. now it is ‘His Holiness’. In ‘tat tvaà asi – That you are’. this Swami also has a squint eye. Thus we must try to understand the lakñyärtha. When the conditionings – the small frame and the childishness of the little boy. The life functioning in you is the life functioning in everyone present. the Consciousness that is functioning in you. this holy saint talking holy things. ‘tat’ is that Infinite Consciousness which is functioning in all equipments in the world outside. mischievous monster around the year 1922. and they are both one and the Tapovan Prasad 13 same person. mind and intellect. Thus. there is a change in various ways.Brahman? Who is this I? And asi – both of them are one. All of us talk for sometime. Thus. That child had a squint. with two verses allocated for each Mahäväkya. a terrible. is now a grown up man. whom you used to play with. These deeper indicative meanings (lakñyärtha) are pointed out in the eight verses of this chapter in the Panchadasi. the indicative meaning suggested by the words in the Mahäväkyas. doing no apparent mischief! Where there was childish ignorance. and ‘you’ refers not to this complex of body. He. where is that son of yours who went to Lucknow for studies? Where is he nowadays?” What will my father say? “That son. is now in 1964. they are each limiting and conditioning the other. How can I be Brahman? But suppose I am now sitting in my home. and at the end of it he asks my father. O friend of mine. G February 2008 . the little boy. How can Rama Reddy be Krishna Reddy? It is not possible. but it is undeniably the same person. who was a child. Certain things don’t change. now there is wisdom. and each word is loaded with deep significance. we will be able to float into meditation upon these four Mahäväkyas. and an old friend of my father comes on a visit. the beard and wisdom of the Swami – are removed. but the ätma caitanya. the Mahäväkyas are very brief and terse. “Menon. How? How can two things be one? If there are two things. So the difference is only in the conditioning.

further questions rise in the student’s mind: “If that Brahman alone is. each one championing one theory or the other to answer the various types of students.Mahavakya Viveka – 3 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA Three Streams of Vedänta As a result of the study of the Mahäväkyas. like the ocean in which the waves play. They are merely different viewpoints of the Truth. in order to help the students. when we accept that there is one Infinite Truth behind this entire universe. to suit the angle of vision of the student and make him understand the relationship of the individual to the Supreme Reality. and that the waves have no separate existence from the ocean. All of them say that it is the final goal. All of them agree that the Mahäväkyas are the pointers to the Supreme Truth. they try to expound the relationship of this Tapovan Prasad 11 March 2008 . However. just as in a political party there may be a leftist and a rightist. Remember that among the Acharyas there is no quarrel in spite of the differences. then what are these various things that I see?” In the Vedäntic school itself there are three main Acharyas. but between them there is no quarrel and they stay united for the purpose of forming the government. All Vedäntins accept the one Infinite Reality.

Never ever was the world born. Sri Gaudapada in the Mandukya Karika. or the great Avadhoota in the Avadhoota Gita – all of them speak from the highest pinnacle of Truth and cry out. or Ashtavakra in the Ashtavakra Gita. Only an uttama adhikäri can understand or even intellectually sympathise with the Teacher. his world of persecutors is ajäta – never born. They speak from the highest standpoint. nor ever merged – being non-existent. the Rishis and Vedäntic Masters who have realised this Infinitude proclaim ajäta väda – that never was the world born at all! This is the päramärthika satta. whose very Tapovan Prasad 12 March 2008 . without coming down to the level of our ignorance. Päramärthika Satta For the benefit of the highest type of students. or Sage Vasishtha in Yoga Vasishtha.world of plurality with the Infinite Oneness. mere imagination. This is ajäta väda. without accusing him or condemning him as a mad creature. The universe is never born. he is talking nonsense. his saìkalpa or kalpanä (imagination) that people are beating him is very real. ever existed. From his standpoint. a trick of the mind. “Can’t you understand. you are the Reality!” “Hey Maharaj! What about my body?” “There is no body. one can only tell him that there is no one other than them in that room. But from our standpoint and that of the others in the drawing room. if a mad man were to say that the others are beating him up.” From our standpoint they seem to be mad! According to them none of this was ever born. because matter itself is only our saìkalpa – there is nothing apart from our own imagination! In a quiet drawing room. It is only a play. there is no question of merging. Paramärtha (the Highest) alone is the one Reality – sattä.

no children. for the purpose of benefiting and blessing certain lesser type of students. and the dream wife can feed you. suddenly you find that you have no wife. the Teacher is trying to make the student concentrate and see the play of the Spirit. Just be! Prätibhäsika Sattä Some Teachers. To an ajäta vädé there is no matter. it has a relative reality. In order to accommodate our stupidity. and it will all disappear. And when you apprehend the play of the Spirit in the world of matter. but explain that whatever we see around us is nothing but that Reality conditioned. but also prätibhäsika sattä (reflection of the Reality). And if at all you see anything. just as the dream has a relative reality. In and through the world of forms. be aware of it totally. All the things in the dream merge and become one with the waker. while he is dreaming. because who is to move and towards what? You are already. Your mind projects the såñöi. no car. Thus these Acharyas not only accepted päramärthika sattä. there is nothing. but also prätibhäsika sattä. If you stand apart and watch the mind. because in that experience there is nothing but Absolute Infinitude alone. one finds that the dreamer and the dream world are in the realm of falsehood. even though you had a great lunch in the dream! Thus the food in the dream can be useful to the dreamer. It is real so long as the dreamer exists. reflected upon the mind. They accept the One Reality. you are Awareness itself. Såñöi dåñöi väda is for the madhyama adhikäré. accept not only päramärthika sattä. the mind will end and you remain as the Pure Awareness. This is also called såñöi dåñöi väda. he finds it is not there. the dream tiger can kill you. The Supreme Reality is manifested in the world around us in various forms. then you see it and suffer the joys and sorrows of saàsära. March 2008 .existence is a danger to the world. the dream objects have a dream reality. In the dream. To the dreamer. There is no path. and to top it all you are very hungry. the teacher concedes a relative Reality. the matter drops off. of matter. The dream food can Tapovan Prasad 13 remove your dream hunger. But on waking up. on waking up. On waking up. No doubt. the reflected Reality. the dream car can take you places.

Thus the lowest type of students with a strong attachment to the world are also given some spiritual support. So one has to come down to his level and say. purity and serenity. that they are all mere reflections of the One Existence. the dullest type of students. The children will grow to be healthy.Vyävahärika Sattä The third category is for the adhamädhama adhikärés. keeping Narayana småti in one corner of the mind. You may continue to live as before. Income-tax people will not give you any trouble. nurture and nourishment. but also a vyävahärika sattä. Narayana will send you all the protection and help. If you tell a grossly sensuous and materialistic person that neither he nor the world outside exists. kindness. will then accept some mighty unknown power beyond. the wife will continue to love you. When you are in trouble. choosing the deity in charge of that department. Playing upon them. he will just give you a stunned look. Thus the Tapovan Prasad 14 March 2008 . Here the Teachers accept not only the päramärthika sattä and the prätibhäsika sattä. and a hierarchy of gods. He cannot understand.” These are his fears. Then you will be successful in your work. then go through proper channels. He will accept it because Narayana kåpä will help him to live his wonderful life in the world! This is how Ravana and other räkñasäs were great bhaktäs of Siva. there will always be money in the bank. where there is a Narayana. and avoid failures and sorrow. tell him that with Narayana kåpä he can do anything in the world. A mind that would have otherwise been cent per cent sensual. a power that is all love. “Narayana is the final Reality. thinking that you are off your mind. cry out to Him! If a direct approach is not possible.

Such a person. these are no more – näräyaëamayaà jagat. When you turn towards Narayana. G Tapovan Prasad 15 March 2008 . and he is able to comprehend the idea. Then the glory of Narayana is explained further. then none of them would have needed any other method. We will see these varying approaches as we study the four Mahäväkyas. Remember. “When you are in the lap of Narayana and look at the world outside. Slowly we tell that person that everything in the world is a reflection of that wonderful Narayana. in the hurry-burry of living.Teacher introduces a spiritual idea into that mind crowded with animal passions. and help came. it is not that these Acharyas disagree in their viewpoints or fight with each other.” Then that person will be able to understand that there are three viewpoints. you will see that this world outside is only Narayana’s creation. The direct method would have been sufficient. He cried out with a burning heart to Narayana. and slowly lift them to the Highest. When this happens once or twice. the Teachers have to sink or dilute their philosophy to reach out to the mental level of the students. but will depend more on Narayana. He depends more on Narayana than on the objects of the world. it is just that they got different types of disciples. If all of them had mighty disciples like Sankara. feels sometimes that Narayana alone must have helped him in his troubles because he was in such a situation that nobody in the world could have helped him. No doubt he will still want the objects. explain everything gradually. But since the students are of different calibre. his faith in Narayana increases.

“O Teacher! Isn’t there anything permanent in this world? Everything seems perishable. it can take us to the Highest and so it is called great. He asks. the essential Truth is indicated in the brief statements known as ‘Mahäväkyas’. ‘prajïänaà brahma’. the student comes to the Teacher in a state of mental confusion. It is one knowledge that cannot be got from any other place. Thirdly. The body. the April 2008 Tapovan Prasad . and all things in the world around us keep changing. Secondly. since Infinitude is introduced through these statements. mind. my affection for my children. The Student’s Question Having observed the perishable nature of the world around. in any other way.Mahavakya Viveka – 4 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA I n the Upanishads. It is known as ‘abhyäsa väkya’. This Infinite Substratum is indicated through these statements and hence they are called great. intellect. or the nucleus of the Vedas. when we meditate upon a Mahäväkya. The first of these four statements. meaning a statement for repeated study and contemplation. is taken from Aitareya Upanishad in the Rigveda. and the Mahäväkya is the essential seed. Mahad means big or glorious. and väkya means word or statement – the great statement. All scientific investigations are objective. my wife’s adoration for me. What is the use of acquiring anything? My love for my wife. Mahad väkya literally means ‘big word’. whereas this is the Subjective Reality. and all the scriptural literature we have are only commentaries upon these four great statements. they are called great. on realising the meaning of a Mahäväkya. It is called a great statement because the Vedas themselves are great. we will see that there is nothing but Brahman. The essence of 8 all spiritual literature is crystallised into these terse statements.

am now a middle-aged person and will soon become an old man. There is continuity in the midst of the change. The equipments of experience in me also keep changing. This world is ever changing and consequently ever agitated. else there will be no sense of continuity. Each bucket of water. each unit. falling. and other generations take up the work and do it. but it is all moving together. each bucketful flowing for a yard or so does not make a river. since all is subject to decay. April 2008 . “I have no more fascination for objects. surging and ceasing would not have been with us. give me suffering and pain today. The child is not the youth. but there is a continuity. play on the stage of the world and die away. then the homogeneous experience of one ocean storming. and the middle-aged person is not the old man. In such a changing and impermanent world. since the very things that seemed to give me joy yesterday. then grew into a youth. the substratum upon which all these changes are taking place. What is it that gives the continuity? Each wave is different from the other waves and yet there is the substratum of the ocean that holds them all together. What is this constant factor? Generations after generations come into the world. or else it is meaningless. A river is a continuous flow of water. The very word jagat indicates an ever-changing flux. This flood of change must have a substratum. What is this changeless factor?” Thus the thinking student approaches the Teacher and questions him. and dying away. after having analysed his own experiences in the world around. no intelligent person would strive to achieve anything. rising.children’s respect and reverence for me – all are subject to change. If each wave were independent of other waves. What is that Reality behind. What is it that holds it together? A changeless substratum must support all changes. Tapovan Prasad 9 because I seem to be constantly there. is moving. giving me the apparent illusion that it is all a continuous process? I was a child once. So what is it that is holding them all together? A few buckets of water. the youth is not the middle-aged person. “Everything has changed. “All the changes are recognised by me as a continuous process.

he holds the mind in abeyance and turns towards the Pure Consciousness. It is prajïänaà. or Brahman – is prajïänaà. That by which one sees. psychologists and philosophers also talk about Consciousness. ‘Paramätmä’.The Teacher’s Answer The Teacher replies quietly. Consciousness. It is not just the Guru or the individual student. describes (expresses or speaks). he comes to understand that the Truth is not merely in the church. The student thus draws his mind away from all the objects of perceptions. knows the tasty and the tasteless. Physiologists. He had earlier conceived the fire or air as God. Now. Tapovan Prasad 10 Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 1 Swami Vidyaranya. SvaÖSvaÊ ivjanait tTà}anmudIirtm!. it was sufficient for the student to hear this.” This changeless substratum – call it ‘God’. probably. the Teacher says. the Koran. The Teacher explains that prajïänaà means Consciousness. It is not in the Bible. the Mahäväkya from Aitareya Upanishad in the Rigveda. hears. they will tell you to refer to a dictionary! Here Swami Vidyaranya presents a rare specimen of a definition of April 2008 . the ‘Supreme Reality’. all the emotions and thoughts. all of a sudden. He now seeks that Consciousness indicated by the Teacher as the only Pure Reality. is taken up first because it is the definition of Truth: yene]te z&[aetId< ijºit Vyakraeit c. “prajïänaà brahma. is declared to be Consciousness. ‘Prajïänaà brahma’. He goes out to contemplate on this statement. Consciousness. “prajïänaà brahma – Consciousness is Truth. but if you ask them what is Consciousness. the mosque. yenekñate çåëotédaà jighrati vyäkaroti ca. svädvasvädu vijänäti tatprajïänam-udéritam. As he contemplates. It is not in the sacred statements. At that time. smells. the compassionate Teacher. explaining what the words stand for. or the Vedas. or the temple. which envelops all this. dedicates two verses to each of the Mahäväkyas.” This statement tells the student to deny and negate everything he conceived as Truth or Reality.

Consciousness that is not available even in the Upanishads. tadeva brahma tvaà viddhi nedaà yadidam-upäsate. tdev äü Tv< iviÏ ned< yiddmupaste. Tapovan Prasad 11 So it is clear that the ‘Seer’ in me is Brahman. When the outer perceptions reach our nervous system. I will not dwell on the sound of a bus. understand that alone to be Brahman. I feel disturbed because my attention is on the meaning of the sounds. but it indicates the meaning very clearly. ékñate – one sees the objects of the world outside. yaccakñuñä na paçyati yena cakñüðñi paçyati. y½]u. Does the Teacher mean to say that the eyes are the Consciousness? Eyes are merely the external instruments through which we perceive the outer world of objects. çåëoti idaà – that by which you are hearing what I am saying now. yena – by which. but because of which the eyes are able to see. how do we gain the knowledge about the object? It is the ‘Seer’ who sees through the eyes. Here Swami Vidyaranya explains: ‘yena ékñate – that by which you see. All of us know that we see the things in the outside world with our eyes. when I hear external sounds.a n pZyit yen c]U‡i. At this moment I am fascinated by the fact that the sound reaches me and I am able to cognise it. is prajïänaà – Consciousness. What is it because of which I am able to know that the sounds have reached me? I am not interested in the meaning of the sounds now. that in you which illumines all the sense stimuli. That which the eyes do not see. At this moment. not on that which illumines the sounds. and not this that people worship here. and April 2008 . It is not a direct statement. Tad prajïänaà udéritam – that is called prajïänaà or Consciousness. all of them are not clearly stated in one single place for the student to have a cogent ready-made answer. pZyit. Consciousnesss is that by which one experiences the outer world of perceptions. Though these ideas are indicated in the Upanishads. It is said in the Kenopanishad. Prakriya granthas or introductory textbooks like the Panchadasi discuss only what is said in the Upanishads.

why it is so. etc. laddoo. that by which I know all the experiences inside and outside. It is enough that some sound has reached my tympanum. the nose. is verily prajïänaà – Consciousness. Svädu means tasty and asvädu means bitterness. Consciousness is that by which I know what I am lifting. By thus pointing out three of the instruments of perception – jïänendriyas. the verse indicates all the sense organs. We are not talking of the physiology. sourness. The emotions in the mind and the thoughts in the Tapovan Prasad 12 April 2008 . that illumines it for me. That is called prajïänaà – Consciousness. What is it that converts the message into confirmed knowledge? What is that Knowing Principle which illumines it. the structure and function of the taste buds in the tongue. and the taste buds react. So prajïänaà is not the eyes. the object and the tongue meet. We are talking of the factor that brings the experience to me. svädvasvädu vijänäti – that by which I know the taste. that by which I know that I am moving. the ears. or castor oil. or a taste that you don’t like.wonder if it is a private bus or a state-owned bus or think that state-owned buses never generally run on time. What is it that illumines the experience and makes me know if it is good or bad? We are not talking of the object – whether the taste is good or bad. Yena jighrati – that which illumines all the smells through my nose. vyäkaroti vä – or that by which I am able to speak and interact with the world. Whether it is ghee. After all. the tympanum is made up of matter. gives me the awareness or idea that there is a sound? When we chant ‘Om… Om… Om…’ we know that ‘Om’ stands for that by which we know the sound. the tongue or the power of speech. and speech that stands for the karmendriyas. when I put it on the tongue.

intellect are all illumined and brought within the pool of light of my knowledge by Consciousness. it does not matter. In the next verse he will explain the meaning of Brahman and show that the Consciousness in me is the Supreme Reality behind the whole universe. That is called prajïänaà – tad prajïänaà udéritam. it is not experienced. Once this light of Consciousness is withdrawn from us. but for the sake of the society! Whether the ash is sprinkled on all the rivers of the country. It is declared to be the Pure Consciousness which is Brahman – prajïänaà brahma. the Teacher there tries to explain this prajïänaà to the student. when this Consciousness is no more in us. So Consciousness is not the perceived world of objects. It is that by which we cognise all the experiences of the body. The entire text of Kenopanishad focuses on this. The body is disposed off not for our sake. the ash will not recognise it. they can have no experiences at all. That Pure Self. or carried in the municipal van like a dog.’ Swami Vidyaranya has explained in this verse the meaning of the word prajïänaà. when it does not illumine these equipments any more. It may be covered by the national flag and flowers. put on a funeral pyre made up of sandalwood. emotions and thoughts. dragged along the road or dumped in a pit – it is immaterial. then whatever happens to the body. or showered upon the earth. G Tapovan Prasad 13 April 2008 . mind and intellect. Once the body is dead. that Awareness or Consciousness is called prajïänaà. the Supreme Reality. mind and intellect. nor the instruments of projection – the body. The definition given in the Upanishad was ‘prajïänaà brahma – Consciousness is Brahman. that Light of understanding.

and in human beings.u mnu:yañgvaid. the Goddess of Learning. and as a result. Hence. During the time of Swami Vidyaranya. Lord Brahma has Saraswati. the Creator. cEtNymek< äüat> à}an< äü mYyip. In the Puranas. is depicted with four faces. The one Consciousness (found) in the four-faced Brahma. or all knowledge. The reference to Brahmaji includes Lord Vishnu with four arms and Lord Siva with three eyes also. caitanyamekaà brahmätaù prajïänaà brahma mayyapi. he uses the pauräëic concept of Brahma. Indra did a lot of penance and yajïas. acquired plenty of puëya (merits).Mahavakya Viveka – 5 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 2 ctumuRoeNÔdeve. the Creator. in the masculine gender. etc. He wished to become the king of gods. He is depicted with four faces because he creates all the four directions. the Creator. The Consciousness in Lord Brahma. The four faces also indicate the four Vedas. hence the Consciousness in me is also Brahman.u. is the name of a deity. cows. which is the style and language of the Upanishads. caturmukhendradeveñu manuñyäçvagavädiñu. This is Tapovan Prasad 11 because Swami Vidyaranya was addressing his own generation of students who were familiar with the word picture of the four-faced Brahma given by Vyasa Bhagavan in the Puranas. the Puranas had become very popular. horses. instead of saying Hiraëyagarbha. Brahma. Caturmukha means one who has four faces. Indra and other gods. is Brahman. as his spouse. May 2008 . It is to be noted that Brahma. and that experience was given to him. not to be confused with the word Brahman (the Supreme Truth) in the neuter gender.

whether the best of yogés. as well as the lower tendencies of the animal kingdom. meaning ‘etc. aëòaja – born of eggs. or the criminal who loots gold and ornaments or kills his own wife and children. Then comes the middle category. the denizens of heaven. are the animals. is one and the same. where the intellect and emotions do not find expression. the human beings. Christ or Krishna. plants and so on. but the electricity in the bulbs is the same. The light that illumines the president’s bedroom (uttama). and my bathroom (adhama). is one and the same. The lowest. The highest of these comprises Brahma – the Creator. indicates all living creatures. your drawing room (madhyama). and udbhijja – born from the soil. Man is posi- tioned in the middle because he can feel the inspiration and pull of the Higher. jaräyuja – born from a womb. Whether Mohammed. Indra. and the denizens of the heaven. sprouted or germinated. svedaja – born of sweat. horses (açva). adhama. The word ‘ädiñu’. the highest forms of life. the Tapovan Prasad 12 May 2008 . It includes the most insignificant worms in the world.in Indra. the minutest unicellular organisms with minimal development. Consciousness remains the same in all human beings (manuñya). These are the uttama jévé. cows (gava). is the same in all of them. In all the three categories of beings. and the intensity of the light may be different. Consciousness is one and the same – caitanyaà ekam. etc. In the same way.’. It may be illumining different things. the dynamic light of Consciousness with which they experience their different experiences. and all the other gods (deveñu). Thus Swami Vidyaranya indicates three categories of beings. the best of saints and sages. The spark of existence. the madhyama jévé.

‘within’ means more May 2008 . the silly fools. The idol helps me to withdraw my mind from other dissipating thoughts. noble and glorious or ignoble and unrighteous. in all of them Consciousness is one and the same. When the upädhis are removed. It is also called viçva Tapovan Prasad 13 darçanam. and this is called Brahman. His pure nature. But at this moment. However. an external symbol. seeing the viräö rüpa of the Lord. I am told to hold on to the idol. pure Brahman is recognised. experienced. including the idol. People go all the way to Tirupati for brahma-darçan on a Friday. Now the Teacher says that it is this same Consciousness that illumines the experiences of all living creatures. melts into the one Pure Consciousness. so the thoughts. In Vedanta. You have to pay a hefty sum for that darçan. when the deity takes a bath. whether the actions are good or bad. The Upanishads tell us to leave the equipments of body and mind. A very daring statement indeed! Only mystic scholars who have experienced this Truth can say it with such conviction. or the mute animals – in all of them Consciousness is one and the same. so the actions. prajïänam was described as the Pure Consciousness that illumines all my experiences. and enter deep within ourselves – abhyantara – to discover the Ätman. and the OET (objects-emotionsthoughts) also disappear. and as the thoughts.lowest of the low. the equipments of BMI vanish. though other spiritual masters have endorsed it in the course of time. the highest devotion. since I cannot conceive the caitanya alone. without His ornaments and attire. renounce the BMI (body-mindintellect) in order to see His viçva rüpa. As the väsanäs. everything. which are merely upädhis. In the first çloka. The actions may be good or bad according to the väsanäs they have acquired in the past and the lower tendencies they have cultivated by wrong thinking. When I concentrate on the idol and surrender myself. In that still moment of utter bhakti. Thus the Siva-tattva or the Vishnutattva is realised. it shows that you have to make a lot of sacrifices. We can be proud that historically it was first stated in the scriptures in India. The caitanya (Consciousness) in the Lord and the caitanya in me are one and the same.

mental. As a living human being. only by becoming aware of the Consciousness in me can I realise Brahman. Everything else changes. All of May 2008 Tapovan Prasad . the pivot around which all things happen. while nothing else pervades it: ‘éçäväsyam-idað sarvaà yatkiïca jagatyäà jagat1 – all this that moves in this universe is pervaded by God. all the three states (avasthäs) of waking (jägrat). This one Consciousness that is the same everywhere is called Brahman. The second verse states that the illumining factor in every living creature is one and the same. This Consciousness. is this Consciousness which knows all changes. but in all changes there is a Knower of the change. So if I realise this Conscious1 Ishavasya Upanishad. Though Brahman is all pervading. avidyä pervades all of them and. the centre of the universe.pervasive – the präëamaya koça (vital air sheath) is within the annamaya koça (food sheath). the axle around which the whole universe revolves. and hence remain the objects. Hence the Consciousness in me is also Brahman – prajïänaà brahma mayyapi. this changeless entity is the same in each one of us. the ultimate Reality. all the païca koças function. Kathopanishad explains that the changeless in the midst of all change. being subtler. the sentient in the midst of insentient things. finally. that which illumines every experience in my bosom is prajïänaà. the manomaya koça (mental sheath) is within the präëamaya koça. and intellectual activities take place. It is the fulcrum around which all my physical. I shall realise Brahman. the objects I perceive are not Brahman. the vijïänamaya koça (intellectual sheath) is subtler still and more pervasive. meaning it is more pervasive. my instruments of experience (BMI) are not Brahman. So also. dream (svapna). and deep sleep (suñupti) alternate. all joys and sorrows are experienced. According to the first verse. but the Consciousness in me is Brahman.’ This Consciousness is called Brahman. I am conscious of the things inside me and outside me. while all the changing phenomena are perceived. Consciousness alone is the subject. and it is known as Brahman. the Ätman that is at the core pervades everything else. 1 14 ness. This Knowing Principle that makes us aware of the changes is something other than the change.

in the first two verses. By learning to see it in myself. and that is known as Brahman. a form is conceived in the intellect. but the Consciousness behind them remains one and the same – caitanyaà ekam. the objects in front of us may be different. So there are no colours or light in his world. one changeless entity. In all the seven seas of the world the water is the same. I would have understood the composition of all oceanic water. In the same way. the Mahäväkya from the Aitareya Upanishad in Rigveda . Who illumines that touch? The same Consciousness that lit up the colour and form for me illumines the form alone for him. illumined by. If I take a few drops of water from the Arabian Sea. This Light of Consciousness by which I know what I know. my mind may be tuned to philosophy. Similarly there is one Infinite Consciousness present in all forms in the world. is the Light of Consciousness by which you know what you know – it is the same in you and me. but all of them are illumined by the one sunlight. It is present in me too. and learn the composition of that water.prajïänaà brahma – is explained clearly.them are known by. whether criminal or divine. everywhere. touching them. What you see will depend on the type of instrument with which you are seeing. and so all that you see appears green. your intellect may delight in medicine and yet another in law. Thus our instruments of experience may be different. the objects that we see may be different. whether in deities or human beings. But he comes to Tapovan Prasad 15 know the shape of things by feeling them. whether in the Guru whom you revere or in you yourself. I can learn to see it everywhere. This one Infinite Consciousness is called Brahman. But the light in which we are seeing is one and the same – the sunlight. In a blind man the instruments of eyes do not function. at all times. the Light of Consciousness. G May 2008 . Consciousness is the same and present everywhere. Our instruments of experiences may be different. When he touches an object and thus sends a stimulus to the mind. The arrangement of furniture in each house may be different. put it in a test tube. You may be wearing green glasses. Thus.

’ This is called anubhava väkya. When the seeker flows and glides into the mystic experience of infinity and cries out in wonder thus. Thus. in the world of OET (objects-emotions-thoughts). paripürëaù parätmä’smin dehe vidyädhikäriëi. and was not aware of my true Self as the Pure Tapovan Prasad 9 Consciousness. Now the Teacher takes up the next Mahäväkya from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in Yajurveda: ‘ahaà brahmäsmi – I am Brahman.Mahavakya Viveka – 6 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 3 pirpU[R> praTma=iSmn! dehe iv*aixkairi[. mind and intellect. buÏe> sai]tya iSwTva Sˆ)…rÚhimtIyRte. conditioned by them all. buddheù säkñitayä sthitvä sphurannahamitéryate. the intellect and their functions.am. “I considered myself till now this conditioned entity. ‘asmi’. the mind. what does he mean by ‘aham’? He has hatched out of his limited equipments and realised the Highest. the word ‘I’ is being defined. Conditioned by the BMI (bodymind-intellect). I have now woken up to find myself the Infinite Brahman. The all-full Supreme Self that shines as the witness of the intellect in this body fit for Knowledge is called ‘I’. ‘Brahma’. In this verse. Does he use the ‘I’ to mean the limited individual June 2008 . It is the final thunderous roar of experience when the student cries out. From this individual known to me all my life and probably for millions and trillions of past lives.” There are three words in this statement: ‘aham’ – I. I thought of myself as the PFT (perceiver-feeler-thinker). this arrogant physical ego that I considered myself to be. I played the part of the PFT. conditioned by the demands of my body. I was aware of only the body.

changeless. The Upanishads declare that this infinite Consciousness is unborn. the worker/boss in the factory or office? At this moment. or objects (vastu). ever-dying. they mean something different from what we mean by the term ‘aham – I’. They are poles apart. the all-full? It is a day and night difference. which is capable of the highest Knowledge (vidyä- Tapovan Prasad 10 June 2008 .’ we feel that either he is mad or we have not understood him in the right sense. Paripürëa means the all-full. time (käla). allpervading. the eter- nal. We know that we are born. the sorrowful. How can the imperfect. undying. the perfect. the finite. the intellect. unconditioned (aparicchinna) by place (deça). the perishable.’ In order to show that it is never conditioned. if the Teacher says ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’ or the mystic sages come to this conclusion in their anubhava (experience). the mind. Parätmä. meaning the Supreme Self. Hence. full at all times. we are ever-changing.entity. resides in this body (asmin dehe). What exactly they mean is indicated in this verse. Therefore. when we say ‘I’ we mean this limited individuality. So this Supreme Truth does not belong to the Einsteinian world of time and space where an object cannot exist without time and space. unconditioned – One without a second. that is me. mind and intellect. the wife/husband of so and so. the changing. limited by the body. We are sad and miserable with one agitation or the other. the limited. when the Teacher says ‘ahaà brahmäsmi – I am Brahman. conditioned by the various relationships. is conditioned by my body. the word paripürëa is used. the son of his father. At this moment we feel that ‘The Ätman. This ‘I’ (aham) can never be the all-pervading infinite Reality. the miserable dying thing be the infinite. It is paripürëa. This is very clear.

he has to purify his mind (antaùkaraëa çuddhi) through worship (upäsanä). and when he has brought his sense organs and the organs of action under control. An individual becomes fit for the highest experience only when he has withdrawn and given up the passion for the world of objects. is fit for this Knowledge – ätma vidyä.dhikäriëi). Väsanäs can be exhausted through devotion and action. becomes clear and capable of contemplation. or any other Tapovan Prasad 11 June 2008 . the most highly evolved creature. not many are capable of this experience of the Self. near the kidneys. They do not have the intellect to discriminate the good from the bad. Therefore a calm mind means that the väsanäs are exhausted. Only a human being is capable of evolving to a state where the mind can receive the highest Knowledge that will end all avidyä. Only a human being. the Supreme Reality – whether behind the heart. the non-apprehension of Reality. under the pancreas. when we have purified the mind through bhakti yoga and karma yoga. the Ätman. and when he has brought his sense organs and the organs of action under control. A pure mind has fewer agitations and remains calm. One may wonder where in this body resides the Self. Animals cannot do this. Further. the intellect An individual becomes fit for the highest experience only when he has withdrawn and given up the passion for the world of objects. making it calm and quiet. and thoughts are created from väsanäs. Among human beings also. above the head. Calmness of mind is generally disturbed by thoughts. the roof and crown of creation. Thus.

the Supreme Self.’ The principle of Consciousness is not affected by these thoughts in your mind. Each one acts according to the allotted function. but something else also. and the quality of the activities depends on the types of väsanäs that rule over them. the subtlest.4 12 Tapovan Prasad June 2008 . can be known with each thought it illumines – pratibodha viditaà matam 1 . The witness or the säkñé remains apart from the thing that is witnessed. Consciousness is a witness of the sense objects. Had I shown this plate to you in utter darkness. All the worlds of matter draw their nurture and nourishment from this Infinite Consciousness. but also the light that is illumining it.part of the body. remains merely a witness – säkñé mätra. and the thoughts in the intellect. Kenopanishad. Let us go a step further – in place of the plate. Consciousness is not gross. The intellect is subtler than the mind. you would not have been able to identify it. the emotions in the mind. The thoughts them1 selves are not Consciousness. By its very presence it illumines them all – svasännidhya mätreëa. The Consciousness. mind and intellect. just as the sun is not involved in the tragedy or comedy that is played out on the earth in its presence. the Light that illumines our thoughts. I am restless or miserable. minus the object. it is very subtle and pervasive. keep your thoughts. this paripürëa 2 This Light of Awareness is not to be confused with physical light. but all your thoughts are illumined by the Consciousness. What you are seeing is the plate plus light. Similarly. the mind is subtler than the sense organs. I am unhappy. So what you are seeing now is not only the material of the plate or the form of the plate. a witness of even the intellect. It does not get involved in the activities of the body. This plate you see is not only the plate. the paripürëa parätmä. The witness of an accident is not involved in the accident. Thoughts keep moving: ‘I am happy. Kenopanishad says that Consciousness. 2. this Light2 of Consciousness. It is not involved in your joys or sorrows. It remains as the witness of all the activities in this physical body. So what is light? Light is what you are seeing. the activities of the sense organs.

The physical actions may be good. one’s own Tapovan Prasad 13 The mind can dance according to the intellect. We become fit to perceive the Consciousness. the Ätman. we may even try to destroy the sun itself! The sun doesn’t care. the Ätman shines as the witness – säkñitayä sthitvä sphuran. all our activities would come to a standstill. Similarly. bad. he is inert like stone or mud. The physical actions may be good. The sun does not interfere. it has already spread out its light and energy lavishly. Whether we know it or not. The sun shines from far away. each one of us acts according to one’s own free will. If that illumination is gone from the individual. The intellect can dance according to its väsanäs. Also. by training the sense organs. When these equipments of experience are tuned up properly. Drawing our energy unconsciously from the sun. the Supreme Self.parätmä. With the energy that we get from it.. we draw energy from the sun. This point is explained beautifully by Sri Sankaracharya in Atma Bodha.. says neither ‘yes’ nor ‘no’. or indifferent according to the väsanäs. We move around engrossed in our activities only because of its presence. the mind. If the sun were not there. väsanäs. But all through this. and the sun does not want us to acknowledge it either. or indifferent according to the väsanäs. But all through this. we need not sit in one place to receive it. we apprehend the June 2008 . Sunlight is available to every individual to carry out his actions in the world outside. We are not even aware of it as the source of all our energy. and the intellect – asmindehe vidyädhikäriëi. the Self in us. the Ätman shines as the witness. It does not come individually to each person with a packet of energy! Sunlight is equally available for all to draw upon. bad. The mind can dance according to the intellect. but it is not involved in the individual’s activities. remains the uninvolved witness of all our activities – physical. As we wake up in the morning. mental or intellectual. the Consciousness in us.

This is the meaning of ‘aham’ in the Mahäväkya ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’. unconditioned by anything. or intellectual entity in us. In the context of this Mahäväkya. ‘I am a communist. the Light of Consciousness. illumining even your thoughts – this principle of Consciousness in you known as the Ätman is what is referred to as ‘I’ – ahamitéryate.’ But. mental. in fact.’ G Tapovan Prasad 14 June 2008 . Generally we use the word ‘I’ (aham) to indicate the physical. pürëa. which remains as a witness in this physical body. is called ‘aham’ in the grand statement ‘ahaà brahmäsmi. a socialist or a religious person. the Self in me.’ We refer to our intellectual convictions when we say.Infinite. It is the very Consciousness. in the presence of which all our activities take place. I am tired’ with reference to the physical body. It is pürëa – all-full. We say ‘I am hungry. this Ätman. finite and ever sorrowful. the Illuminator of the thoughts. Thus the Mahäväkya uses the familiar word ‘I’ to refer to the Supreme Consciousness in me. the Witness behind the intellect (buddheù säkñé) – not the thoughts. this Truth in you. is unconditioned by anything. the paripürëa parätmä that illumines each thoughtwave in us. Thus this great Reality.’ The Consciousness conditioned by the convictions cries out that ‘I am this or that. This pürëa ätman within me that illumines my thoughts must be the Brahman even in me – prajïänaà brahma mayyapi. ‘I’ is not the ordinary limited individual – mortal. That paripürëa parätman. this parätmä which is all-pervading. We denote the mental entity by saying ‘I am angry’ or ‘I am in love. the Self. but the Knower of the thoughts.

Mahavakya Viveka – 7 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 4 Svt> pU[R> praTma=Ç äüzBden vi[Rt>. yet that knowledge may not be reflected in his behaviour. A person may have studied all this. One does not improve automatically just by becoming a Mission member or going to a Guru. what would be our experience after realising it. Here (in the Mahäväkya ‘aham brahmasmi’). the word ‘asmi’ indicates the oneness of ‘I’ and ‘Brahman’. Then it indicates the Truth. Take the example of a doctor’s prescription. he cannot see any improvement. shows the path to reach it and the pitfalls on the way. but we 10 July 2008 There is a famous statement in Vedanta: jïäpakameva çästraà. Similarly. how it can be maintained and improved. asmétyaikya-parämarçaù tena brahma bhavämyaham. it gives the Veda – knowledge. svataù pürëaù parätmä’tra brahmaçabdena varëitaù. Reading the prescription daily will not cure the disease. and Tapovan Prasad . It makes you aware of your wrong way of living because of which you are getting minimum happiness in life. Such information is necessary. the Supreme Self that is all-full in itself is represented by the word ‘Brahman’. they do not create (enlightenment). or is striving to know Brahman. Brahmavidyä cannot create a brähmaëa – one who knows. Unless the reader regulates his activities according to the instructions. na tu kärakam – Scriptural texts give only information about the Reality. Çästra is only vedanéya. The Upanishads and the Gita tell us about the goal. A health magazine contains no health. how to reach the goal. It merely gives information about good health. ASmITyEKypramzR> ten äü ÉvaMyhm!. hence I am Brahman.

knock at the gates of Truth and enter to be one with it. the ego. peace and perfection. the audience is the sense objects. In the olden days there was only one light illumining everything in the hall. The intellect dances in a thousand ways to the tune of the sense organs for the enjoyment of the prabhu. the light continues to shine by itself – svataù. The accompanists are the sense organs. Consciousness is described as the light in the theatre that illumines the audience. if the light fails. we can live a dynamic. the word ‘aham’ (I) does not refer to the limited. Hence the word ‘aham’ here indicates the light of Consciousness that illumines everything in this world for us – even our own thoughts and emotions. The lakñyärtha or the indicated meaning is the Pure Consciousness in me that illumines even the thoughts of the intellect. So if the light fails. this preparation has to be the individual’s contribution. full life which will take us to greater heights of glory. Thoughts are only the objects illumined. ‘I’ – the light that illumines them – is not connected with the objects at all. In this Mahäväkya. ultimately making us realise ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’. The Pure Consciousness in me is a witness to my dancing thoughts (säkñitayä sthitvä2). Though one has been gifted with a human body. The individual has to make the effort to prepare himself to receive the knowledge. 2 3 Mahavakya Viveka. the Ätman.have to make the effort. the prabhu (patron. Verse 3 11 Ibid Panchadasi. Ch. the dancing girl is the intellect. conditioned entity of the body-mind-intellect which is the literal meaning or väcyärtha. Vedänta Sästra explains that by tuning up our personality. The light that falls on a plate and illumines it is not conditioned 1 by the plate. generally the king in those days). However. 10 July 2008 Tapovan Prasad . the dancing girl and the accompanists. If the plate is moved away. The previous verse mentioned: ‘dehe vidyädhikäriëi’1 – in this body that is fit to receive the knowledge. This is explained in the näöaka dépa prakaraëa3 with the metaphor of the dance hall. the prabhu is the ego. The light that is illumining them all at once is the Pure Consciousness. the show comes to an end.

It is unconditioned and all-pervading like space. is the Consciousness present everywhere. my emotions. time and objects (deça käla vastu aparicchinnaù). that is. It is svataù. which illumines at once the intellect. by itself (svataù). let us see how the word Brahman is described in this verse: svataù pürëaù parätmä – the Supreme Reality (parätmä). in the light of which all my thoughts become evident and clear for me. This light of Consciousness. the mind. complete (pürëaù). Nothing can condition (limit) it. The third word is ‘asmi’ (am). the Supreme Reality – ‘I am Brahman’. exists by itself. the eternal and infinite Reality behind the whole universe. meaning without the help of anything else – itara sahäya anapekñya. and the objects around me. its väsanäs. the ego and the world of objects – this Light is called aham here. Brahman – the Supreme Consciousness. Everything exists in it. Thus. in the presence of which the intellect dances. Brahman is the one Infinite Consciousness present everywhere. space and causality. It is beyond the intellect. This is how the word Brahman is used here – atra – that is in the Mahäväkya ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’. the Self. is one and the same with. It indicates the oneness (aikya parämarçaù) of aham (I) and Brahman.the girl cannot dance. It is complete by itself. Brahman is the total Consciousness present everywhere. unconditioned by space. nor can anyone enjoy it. which by its own nature is unconditioned by time. So the light of Consciousness functioning in me is nothing other than. It refers to the Ätman. Now. The Pure Consciousness in me. by this knowledge (tena – anena jïänena) presented Tapovan Prasad 12 July 2008 . the Consciousness. ‘Aham’ is the light of Consciousness in me lighting up the limited world of my thoughts.

agitated. By studying the Çästra. This Pure Awareness or Consciousness in me (aham) is the Pure Infinite Consciousness in the bosom of everybody else.in the Mahäväkya. etc. Jïäpakameva çästraà. ‘I’ in this case refers to the ego awakened to the higher plane of Consciousness. he does not refer to his dream self. However. Swami etc. Tapovan Prasad 13 Thus. the more the knots tighten. By merely reading. The more we struggle to come out of it. A dreamer who is suffering in the dream with his dream wife. mind and intellect. bound to the world outside with our attachments. anxious and so on. I will do it. or listening to discourses. fat. ‘ahaà brahmäsmi’ is a further explanation of prajïänaà brahma – the Mahäväkya from the Rigveda explained in the first two verses. then the Consciousness present in me is also Brahman – prajïänaà brahma mayyapi. At this moment I am identified with the physical body and associate myself with adjectives like lean. it is the awakened ‘I’. and intellectual entities in us. when he says ‘I’ after waking up from the dream. Identifying with the physical body.’ This experience at the time of meditation is called anubhava väkya. in the ultimate analysis. etc. na tu kärakam – the scriptures can only give information. I have fever. Identifying with the mind and its condition. the man of wisdom understands that ‘I am Brahman’ – brahma bhavämi aham. also says ‘I’. tall. one may feel that one has understood the Mahäväkyas. emotional. The Infinite Consciousness. I say that I don’t know. we may get the assurance that we are divine. One may even agree intellectually with the writer or the speaker. That does not remove our sorrows. they cannot make you Brahman. I am agitated. yet continue to be unhappy. mind and intellect. Identifying with the intellect. the Consciousness present everywhere. is Brahman. plays the part of the physical. conditioned by the body. There it was said that if prajïänam. I am doubtful. This logical conviction is followed up with the direct experience that ‘I am Brahman. This is due to our identification with the body. worried. July 2008 . dream children and the sorrows in the dream. ‘I’ does not refer to the individual entity that we think ourselves to be at present. pain.

But if we act in the world outside driven by the väsanäs. more and more väsanäs are created. Thus tuned up. We become aware of the light of Consciousness to the exclusion of all thoughts. When we try to focus on the light of Consciousness that illumines the thoughts. the väsanäs cannot get exhausted unless we act in the world outside. The body and mind have to be tuned up (vidyädhikäriëi). vairägya (dispassion).We can redeem ourselves only through self-effort. Those who have cultivated these qualities and turned the mind inward may continue to interact in the world outside. ready to receive the supreme knowledge. The mind cannot be tuned unless the existing väsanäs are exhausted. Tapovan Prasad 14 July 2008 . The tuning is done by cultivating viveka (discrimination). No new väsanäs are created. when the ego and ego-centric desires are eliminated from us as a result of acting in a spirit of dedication and surrender in the world outside. a body ready to receive the Brahma Vidya. you see not just the thoughts. and through karma yoga – acting and fulfilling our duties in the world in a spirit of dedication. the väsanäs get exhausted. the väsanäs get exhausted. ñaòsampatti (the six treasures or qualities) and mumukñutvam (desire for Liberation) that we have studied earlier. In that hushed moment of contact with the Pure Consciousness. It can be done only in this body (asmin çarére) and not after death. while remaining aware of the greater Reality all the time. emotions and perceptions. making this a vidyädhikäriëi çaréra. According to the third chapter of the Gita. but that which illumines the thoughts. the Awareness in me will be recognised as the Awareness present everywhere. the mind becomes purer. Thus through bhakti – devotion. The mind becomes purer. our attention is not on the thoughts.

Swami Vidyaranya takes up for discussion the Mahäväkya ‘tat tvam asi’ from the Chandogya Upanishad in Samaveda. Aaruni had sent his son Shvetaketu to the Gurukula to be educated. the Puranas – I have learnt everything.’ Later the names and 1 Chandogya Upanishad. before all creation. There the Mahäväkya is embedded in a story. When the boy returned. The father started from the beginning: ‘sadeva saumya idam-agra äsét1 – in the beginning. “Did your teacher tell you about that ‘Knowledge’ by knowing which all that is unheard becomes heard. “Son! You must have studied everything there. 6. The father asked casually one day. all things unfelt become felt.Mahavakya Viveka – 8 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA fter explaining the Mahäväkyas from Rigveda and Yajurveda. all that is not known becomes known?” The son’s attention was caught immediately.2. “Yes. he went around with a bloated head thinking that he had understood everything.” Gently the A father asked. Existence alone was there.1 Tapovan Prasad 7 August 2008 . He regretted that it was not taught and requested his father to give him that Knowledge. the Upapuranas. The fourteen Sastras.” The son replied proudly.

Similarly. but they can exist only in the ocean. The shape of the wave. So I exist. He asks the student to open it up layer after layer. tat tvam asi – That thou art! You are not my son. you are not the body. into its inter-molecular spaces. That is the primary shoot. it gives only the information. foam and ripple rose only from the ocean.” Sastra is only jïäpakam. The ocean will exist even if they are not there. Existence is the common denominator. dear son. Existence alone was there. Then the father explains it in nine different ways with different examples. the animal exists. the stone exists. ‘That thou art. the moon and the stars exist. the plume and the radical. And the teacher says: “O Shvetaketu. Tapovan Prasad 8 August 2008 . you exist. The ocean existed before all these forms came up. though it is not seen as such. That ‘nothing’ he says is the banyan tree. the cotyledons. He finds no salt there. Through this the father teaches him the lesson that Existence permeates everything. but the salt that has gone into the water. but only water.’ Shvetaketu is told to put some salt in the kamaëdalu filled with water and check it the next day. before creation. Next he explains it with the example of the tiny seed of a banyan tree. Realise it. till there is nothing more to peel. the mind or the intellect. At each point the teacher drives home the essential truth ‘tat tvam asi – That thou art. the tree exists. it cannot transform you. he exists. bubble.forms (näma-rüpa) were created. You are that Reality alone. Thus nine different examples are given. The water tastes salty whether from the top or the bottom portion. That insignificant imperceptible thing is the source of the mighty banyan tree. the sun.’ You are not the water. not kärakam.

’ There was nothing either like it or different from it or other than it – sajätéya vijätéya svagata bheda rahita vastu. But ‘sat’ – Pure Existence that was there before all creation – was one without a second. This implication of ‘advitéya’ (one without a second) should always be remembered. where Aaruni begins to teach his son Shvetaketu: ‘sadeva saumya idamagra äsét. the eyes and the hands etc. And therefore he came back to the teacher nine times. as between man and man. pure Existence. Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 5 @kmevaiÖtIy< st! namêpivvijRtm!. and it is so even now. without a second. Limited things will have these distinctions. without names and forms. We can compare and contrast them with other things. s&òe> pura=xuna=PySy ta†®v< tidtIyRte. But his mind was not pure enough. The first part of this verse is a direct echo of the mantra in the Chandogya Upanishad. One alone. the teacher here Tapovan Prasad 9 August 2008 . ekamevädvitéyaà sat nämarüpavivarjitam. one without a second. the student went back and contemplated on it. ekameva advitéyam – In the beginning there was Existence alone. Sajätéya means the distinction within a species. ‘sat’ was there before creation. In order to elucidate the idea further. såñöeù purä’dhunä’pyasya tädåktvaà taditéryate. vijätéya is the distinction between two species like man and buffalo. the essence of his own Self. svagata bheda is the distinction within oneself like the head and the legs. It is called ‘tad’ or ‘that’. therefore he could not fathom that subtle Consciousness. The teacher explained patiently until he realised the Truth.Therefore each time the teacher gave an example.

Before creation. to the dreamer. Even while you are seeing the ghost and getting frightened. I have not changed. was one without a second before creation (såñöeù purä). Superimposition means projecting something on another thing. Pure Existence. not yet created. I am nothing but the unemployed person starving by the roadside. I cannot enquire the name of a child that is yet unborn. This trick of the mind is called adhyäsa. The forms come into being only after creation. the dream is real. Tapovan Prasad 10 August 2008 . Thereafter. A name is necessary only when the object is already there. the mind projects something else there. remains changeless – the post alone. This is because the world of names and forms is only a hallucination or a projection (saìkalpa-vikalpa) of the mind. and even now (adhunä api) it is the same. the post.explains it as nämarüpa vivarjitam – without any distinction of names and forms. Therefore the mind construes (saìkalpa) a ghost and suffers its sorrows (vikalpa). Thus nämarüpa vivarjitam means that the world of names and forms was not there. Even while I am dreaming that I am the greatest man in the world. and nothing else is real. Only after the birth of the child. we can give them names. the reality behind it. language was not necessary because names were not there. the name is given. the Reality is not recognised because the projection veils it. The entire world of names and forms (nämarüpa jagat) is only an adhyäsa – a superimposition. This Consciousness. And when the forms come. this ‘sat’. this ‘pürëa vastu’. there was no ‘other’ to communicate with. While the dream lasts. But alas! the post is not recognised. When the intellect is clouded and cannot understand a thing in its real nature. What I am in the waking condition will not change by the dream condition.

if the saìkalpa-vikalpa of the mind are quietened. The individual who is thus the author of the saìkalpa and the sufferer of the vikalpa is called the individualised ego – you and I. one alone without a second. quietened completely. regulated. It is impossible to create something out of nothing. it implies something that existed before. we can experience Pure Existence as it was before creation. quietened Even now.and we recognise only that which we have projected. if the causes for the projection of the world of plurality – the mind and the intellect in us – are controlled. not being aware of the pure Consciousness in ourselves. Let us see it from another angle. completely. This is called ‘tad’– taditéryate. If creation is there. Thus. without names and forms. Even now (adhunä api). by not recognising. And this jagat (world) which is ever changing gives all kinds of sorrows to individuals. if the causes for the projection of the world of plurality – the mind and the intellect in us – are controlled. the mind. regulated. and transcended. in its confusion. Even now. without a cause an effect is Tapovan Prasad 11 August 2008 . there must have been something out of which creation came into being. Pure Existence remains the same – tädåk-eva. and not things as they are in reality. Even before creation. the PFT (perceiver-feelerthinker) and OET (objectsemotions-thoughts). Its nature (asya tädåktvam) remains the same as it was before creation. and transcended. we can experience Pure Existence as it was before creation. projects a world of names and forms – the BMI (body-mind-intellect). we can recognise the Truth in the hushed state.

in that space. So if we remove the names and forms. Then. is indicated by the word ‘tad’. The teacher. Similarly. We say that there is no space inside the hall. ‘you’ and other things also exist. started the discourse by saying that there was nothing but ‘Sat’ or Existence before names and forms were projected.’ ‘The table is here. before names and forms were differentiated. there was only space where this hall exists now. the building was made. there was only space. there must have been Pure Existence. though ‘I’. Because of the building. outside there is space. Pure Existence alone will be there. when the teacher says ‘tat tvam asi – That thou art. it etc. For example. This Pure Existence which was there before creation. If all these – I. This ‘isness’ or ‘areness’ – this ‘Existence’ must have been there before anything was created. G Tapovan Prasad 12 August 2008 . Therefore in the conclusion. before creation. how did the names and forms come into being? All of us say that things ‘are’. When the name and the form of the plate are gone. This outer or inner space was not there before the building was made. the existence or ‘isness’ alone remains. The building and the hall in the building exist in space.impossible. – are removed.’ the word ‘That’ refers to the Pure Existence with which the discussion started. This world is made up of names and forms. And that space was not eliminated when the building was made. Aaruni. If nothingness alone was there earlier. which now expresses through creation.’ We experience the existence of things. and that Existence is there even today. you. the space which was one is now recognised as inner and outer space. ‘The plate is there. what is left? An unscientific thinker would say that ‘nothing’ is left.

Çrotuù means the individual who is listening. and the word ‘are’ (asi) points out the oneness. is the Reality. So the oneness (of the individual Consciousness and the Supreme Consciousness) is to be experienced. it is that which transcends (atétaà) his body (deha) and sense organs (indriya). Here the sense organs include the outer (bähyendriya or bähyakaraëa) and the inner (antarendriya or antaùkaraëa) equipments. That essence in the listener which transcends his body and the sense organs is referred to by the word ‘you’ (tvam).’ refers to the Pure Consciousness in the disciple who is listening to him. The Teacher points out that the word ‘you’ in the Mahäväkya ‘tat-tvam-asi – That you are. the disciple in this case. the Supreme Truth. When the Consciousness functions through the body. @kta ¢aýte=sIit tdEKymnuÉUytam!. çroturdehendriyätétaà vastvatra tvaà paderitam. Pure Consciousness. and which transcends the BMI (body-mind-intellect) of the listener. The essential element in the listener without which he cannot exist. we become aware of the outer world of objects. when it functions through our mind. we Tapovan Prasad 6 September 2008 . ekatä grähyate’séti tadaikyam-anubhüyatäm.Mahavakya Viveka – 9 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 6 ïaetudeRheiNÔyatIt< vSTvÇ Tv< pdeirtm!.

When we transcend our own body. newly married. For one and half years. This Infinite Consciousness. the light of Consciousness that illumines all our thoughts. In ahaà brahmäsmi. was posted in the warfront. son etc. ‘aham’ or ‘I’ was defined as the witness. Similarly. or the physical equipment. That Pure Existence. X will also be a father. mind and intellect. Now the Teacher clarifies further that the word ‘you’ does not refer to the social identity. the God from whom all creations arose. All the created things and beings are merely expressions of that Pure Existence. In the first Mahäväkya. ‘tat’ was explained as that Pure Existence which was before all Creation. is indicated by the word ‘tat’ or ‘That’. the individual and the social identity are not different in a person. they are the same. we become aware of our thoughts. we don’t mean two different entities. the Reality. and remains the same even now. the word ‘asi’ or ‘are’ means that ‘tat’ (That) and ‘tvam’ (you) are one and the same. In the statement ‘tat-tvamasi’.become aware of our emotions and when it functions through the intellect. and the Consciousness in you are one and the same. the word ‘you’ (tvaà pada) means that vastu or Reality in the student which transcends all his outer instruments of perception and the inner instruments of experiences. In the previous verse. husband. An army officer. we can apprehend the Pure Consciousness that functions through our equipments. the Pure Consciousness. In this context. this enlivening spirit in the individual has already been explained as the Pure Consciousness – prajïänaà brahma mayyapi. he and his wife communicated with each other Tapovan Prasad 7 September 2008 . When we indicate someone and say his name. Mr. These creations do not at all condition the Consciousness that plays in and through them.

the captain started crying aloud in grief. When the train steamed into the station. was there to receive him. Then slowly he remarked. With a serious look. “After all.only through letters. “Smile a little! How can your wife be a widow when you. jumped out of the train. Mental hallucination because of the lack of correct thinking was the cause of the captain’s grief. he was granted leave. When we realise that the reality in us is the Reality which was there even before creation. “How is Sulochana?” The friend did not respond immediately. The captain took the train for the return journey with great joy and enthusiasm. who would have imagined this to happen to her when she is so young!” The captain could barely control himself. Finally. ”She has become a widow. the captain picked up his luggage. “What happened to her?” The friend said sadly. he burst forth. we are also weeping. Similarly. the husband. and that we are not contaminated in spite of the creation of the world Tapovan Prasad 8 September 2008 . he was leaning out to spot his kith and kin. and soon a crowd began to gather around them. “What happened?” The friend said sorrowfully.” Listening to this. Though the captain noticed this. not knowing our true nature as the infinite Self. the friend decided to call off the show. in his joy and eagerness. he merely asked him to take the luggage and proceed. His old classmate. His eagerness was so great that he could not even sleep at night. The friend looked very morose. are still alive?” He had thoroughly enjoyed the prank and the captain’s lack of common sense. Realising that things were likely to get out of hand. who enjoyed playing pranks at the expense of others. Seeing him. “Ah! Poor girl!” The captain was really concerned now. and ran to meet him. This attracted the attention of others at the railway station.

In the above story. With the word ‘anubhüyatäm – may you come to experience’. 2. the captain and the husband of Sulochana are one and the same. I think of myself as the individual ego.”1 Understanding is only an intellectual appreciation. The moment I understand the advaita concept that this Consciousness in me is nothing but His grace. but the captain forgot this fact momentarily and thought she had become a widow. That which illumines the thoughts is the Reality. In Kenopanishad. I find everything to be ephemeral (anitya). Hence understand that the essence in you is the essence everywhere. I pray to God. the Teacher indicates that all that has been explained so far is just information. The remedy lay in the removal of his misunderstanding and the knowledge of oneness – tattvamasi! In the same way. “If you say you have understood. cognise the world of plurality outside me and suffer. you have understood nothing. The role of the Sastra and the Teacher has ended with the explanation of the meaning of ‘tattvamasi’. Now it is for the student to experience it. beg of Him to remove my sufferings. When the dvaita bhävanä (sense of duality) came. and that God and His grace are not separate. Hence the Teacher here exhorts the student to experience the oneness of the Truth in him with the Truth behind the whole universe. impure (açuddha) and inauspicious (açiva). 1 Tapovan Prasad 9 September 2008 . he started weeping for her. the world becomes nitya çuddha mukta (eternal.of plurality. 1 Kenopanishad. all sorrows come to an end. pure and free) here and now. just another thought added to create more agitations in the intellect. the Teacher says.

we perceive various emotions and feelings. touch. With the mind. Through the sense organs. it means not only the objects perceived through the sense organs. The world (jagat) that we know is made up of all these perceptions. The intellect comprehends various thoughts. Mountains. the names and forms are perceived at the physical level – the sound. dåçyamänasya sarvasya jagatastattvaméryate. No experience in the world is permanent. Mahäväkya Viveka – Verse 8 †ZymanSy svRSy jgtStÅvmIyRte. but actually the ocean is also ever changing. the sun. we have already examined the meaning of the terms ayam and ätmä in detail. ideals and abstract concepts. but also all that is apprehended by the mind and intellect. That Brahman is of the nature of the self-shining Self. smell.Mahavakya Viveka – 11 SWAMI CHINMAYANANDA I n the Mahäväkya ‘ayaà ätmä brahma’. brahmaçabdena tad brahma svaprakäçätmarüpakam. The word jagat means everchanging. the earth and the ocean may seem relatively permanent. The essence of the entire visible world is denoted by the word Brahman. The next verse defines the word ‘brahma’. taste and form. äüzBden tdœ äü SvàkazaTmêpkm!. Dåçyamänasya sarvasya means all that is seen or perceived. and so are the Tapovan Prasad 6 November 2008 . ideas. In the larger sense of the term.

mountains and other natural phenomena. I have limited emotions. and the total world of thoughts. thoughts change. and limited thoughts. Together they become my limited world. the one factor of Consciousness in the midst of inert. No individual sees all the things in the world. The total universe is the totality of all the perceptions. but as students of Vedanta. Ideals change. and they form your tiny little quarter plate of the universe Another person has a third idea of the universe. Even our instruments of perception change. The world is but a welter of changes and this realm of change is called jagat. Note that it is the totality. emotions change. It is the presence of this changeless factor that makes all experiences possible. emotions and thoughts of all living creatures. It is the nitya vastu (eternal thing) in the midst of the changing phenomena. I see only a limited number of objects. emotions and thoughts. the perceived world changes. The friend today becomes the enemy tomorrow. including our own perceptions. the changeless factor in the midst of all changes is Brahman. have different thoughts and emotions. You see different things. And this totality is called jagat. This totality is called jagat. the total world of emotions. In other words. insentient Tapovan Prasad 7 November 2008 . The tattva or reality behind this entire universe is denoted by the word ‘brahma’. Thus everything in the world is constantly changing. ’ This world is constituted of things that we perceive – the total world of objects. Generally the word ‘jagat’ is merely translated as ‘world’. in its absence no experience is ever possible for anyone. we must remember the definition given by the Rishis: ‘jagati iti jagat – that which is ever changing is jagat. A staunch socialist today may become a power crazy person tomorrow. ideas change.

the 1 Kathopanishad. in all places and historical periods.matter. The one constant factor among all these changes is the Light of Consciousness. in sorrow. happiness and unhappiness are all merely the objects of my Consciousness. In joy. we find that in our childhood we were aware of the childhood joys and sorrows. Ayaà ätmä brahma – This ätman in me is the Brahman everywhere. in our young age we were aware of the experiences of youth. youth. Childhood. That is meditation. 2. I know that I was a child once. This is the tattvam. and the tragedies of old age. we are aware of joy. This Brahman. 13 disappointments of middle-age. then became a young man. logically. old age. in disappointment we are aware of it – this awareness is the common factor everywhere. and have grown old now. 2. It is also the essential and real nature of all living creatures. the very nature of our own Self (svaprakäça-ätmarüpakam). we are aware of it. the vivacity of youth. behind the entire world of change perceived by all the living creatures. and in old age we are aware of the experiences of old age. in every experience. It is this that is indicated by the word Brahman (brahmaçabdena éritaù).1 Seek it within yourself. That alone could be me. Tapovan Prasad 8 November 2008 . at all times and conditions. the Reality. the substratum. It is very difficult to pinpoint this changeless factor in oneself though each one of us is so sure of the existence of ‘me’. Who is the ‘I’ that knows all these changes? When we analyse. is self-effulgent. This common denominator is the fulcrum that is constant in every one. the Reality that we have been discussing. It is Consciousness that illumines the revelry of childhood.

the cream of the Upanishads. The student is told that the Consciousness by which he becomes aware of everything is God. Brahman is Consciousness (prajïänam). From the standpoint of a seeker. If I eliminate all the objects from my mind. How can he say that he is God? And yet. The student is understandably bewildered. in these four Mahäväkyas. Then he comes back and asks the Teacher where and how he can contact God. the student understands that this Ätmä is Brahman – ayaà ätmä brahma. the arrangement is slightly different. as if He is far away. The first Mahäväkya: ‘prajïänam brahma – Consciousness is Brahman’ is the definition of the Truth. the essence of the advaita experience of all mystics. How can I. He goes away to think and meditate about this because his idea of God and religion was very different. (Concluded) Tapovan Prasad 9 November 2008 . ‘tattvam-asi – That you are. the words tumble out: “ahaà brahmäsmi . a limited creature. So the Consciousness in me that illumines all my experiences must be God. The order of presentation in the Panchadasi is according to the sequence of the Vedas – Rigveda. be God? Slowly he puts the two Mahäväkyas together. Thus. The Teacher wants to confirm if he has truly understood. when the mind is quietened in the seat of meditation. is summarised. The Teacher says. and Conclusion again goes back to meditate.’ That God you are talking of now. This is his experience (anubhava). After this he goes to the Teacher again. The student is dumbstruck. is none other than you.Thus. Samaveda and Atharvanaveda.I am Brahman!” The Teacher understands that this is the thunderous roar of Realisation. pure Consciousness alone will remain. Yajurveda. and the teacher says that I am God. The Consciousness in me is the Consciousness everywhere.