Wednesday February 26, 2020

Self-Enquiry leads to Self-Realization

0
//
Photo: vividlife.me

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 13

In the previous installments, we dealt with the questions: What is God? Where is God? And How to attain God? It was shown how God permeates the Universe and exists in the Hearts of all creatures as their Innermost Atman. It was further shown how, the only way to attain Brahman i.e. Moksha (liberation) was through Atma-Jnana (self-realization).

Now, let us see how to attain this realization of Atman.

People strongly identify themselves with their body and name and the sense of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ is very strong in them. People introduce themselves using their name, their gender, location, age, etc. They consider the house, the family, the money they have earned as belonging to them. This strong sense of ‘I-ness’ (Ahamkara) and ‘Mine-ness’ (Mamahkara) defines one’s identity.

But, this identity of Self with the body is not a real identity, instructs the scriptures. These are all only temporary identities superimposed on Atman that have arisen due to Avidya (ignorance) about the real nature of the Self. Adi Shankaracharya in his Nirvana Shatkam clearly says, he is not the body, mind, or Causal state. Instead, he is Atman whose nature is Knowledge-Bliss.

The Upanishads repeatedly instruct through Mahavakyas (Great Sentences) like “Tat Tvam Asi” (Thou Art That) and “Aham Bahmasmi” (Self is Brahman) that the true identity of Self is that it is Brahman and not body and mind. Therefore, the realization of Atman (Atma-Jnana) constitutes removal of false identifications of the Self with the body, so that Atman can shine in its true nature without obstructions.

So, the question arises how to attain this Self? How to remove the false identifications? In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2.4.5), Yajnavalkya instructs Maitreyi thus:

ātmā vā are dṛṣtavyaḥ śrotravyo mantavyo nididhyāsitavyo maitreyi

ātmano vā are darśanena śravaṇena matyā vijñānenedaṃ sarvaṃ viditam ||

Translation: The Self, oh Maitreyi, should be perceived/realized- should be heard, reflected, and meditated/contemplated upon. By realization of the Self through hearing, reflection, and meditation, all this is known.

Thus, the path to attain Atma-Jnana has four stages and this is referred as ‘Sravana chatushtaya’ in Vedanta. The four stages are: Sravana (hearing), Manana (reflection), Nidhidhyasa (Meditation on Self), and the fourth stage is Self-realization itself (Atma-Jnana).

Sravana refers to listening to the teachings of the Upanishads and Mahavakyas from a Guru. After, a student has listened to these teachings, the next stage is about internalizing those teachings. This is done through Manana. The student reflects upon the teachings again and again until, his doubts are cleared. He may even ask his teacher for clarification.

The sustained Manana results in a clarity in the mind regarding the teachings of the scriptures. But, this clarity or understanding is only intellectual or theoretical. To convert this indirect knowledge into direct realization (Aparoksha), one must then practice Nidhidhyasa or meditation on the teachings of the scriptures. This meditation is usually done on the essence of Mahavakyas.

It is important to note that, this Nidhidhyasa is different from mere reflection or thinking about the meaning of a verse. Nidhidhyasa is also different from Dhyana, which is usually translated as meditation. This Nidhidhyasa is actually what Adi Shankara or Ramana Maharshi call as “Vichara” (Self-Enquiry).

The Self-Enquiry or Niddhidhyasa consists in a person contemplating on the identity of Atman and Brahman, by slowly transcending the false identification with the body and mind. This may even involve the practice of Dharana (concentration on an object) and Dhyana (meditation on the object) of Yoga. In Yoga, the mind is further allowed to still itself, so that the Atman as a subject alone shines forth.

But, by Niddhidhyasa, the student goes one step further. By contemplating on Atman as being non-different from Brahman, the student after stilling the mind goes beyond the state of the subject.

This direct realization of the Non-dual Atman who is beyond the duality of subject-object is called as Atma-Jnana. And this Jnana then liberates (Moksha) such a person.

Therefore, without this self-inquiry, no amount of study of scriptures, or practice of Yoga postures will lead to Self-realization because the theoretical understanding of the scriptures or Yoga postures cannot remove false identifications. Only when the mind stilled, and the duality of subject and object is dissolved, the true nature of Atman is revealed. Thus, self-inquiry alone leads to Self-realization.

More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 8
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 9
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 10
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 11
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 12

Next Story

Fireworks Might Extinguish the Flame of Laxmi Puja

We can have various kind of festival enjoyments on Festivals but without ever causing problem to others and the environment

0
Fireworks
There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. Pixabay

BY SALIL GEWALI

If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong. There is no mention in any corners of the voluminous scriptures of Fireworks blasting during a PUJAS that “upset” the harmony of peace and tranquility of others. To disturb others’ tranquility falls under the heading of vices. Preserving the sanctity of the environment, and more importantly, inner purity of mind and heart is the “prime doctrine” of SANATAN DHARMA which is popularly known as Hinduism. This Hindu culture now seemingly run the risk of having been defined by other communities with what is not very pleasant to hear.

Fireworks
It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment without Using Fireworks.

I’ve overheard many toxic comments against this blatant desecration of auspicious “puja celebrations”. During Holi festival, many people fear to move out of their homes, particularly in certain the plane areas in India. You might be blasted with a bucketful of dirty water by pranksters from the 5th floor of the building. Is this sadism the part of the puja and holi celebration? One is afraid, with each passing year, this festival of color of joy, though having strong spiritual significance, has only painted the very face of Hindu culture with vulgarity and depravity.

Fireworks
If one wants to connect Hindu culture with the senseless bursting of crackers, Fireworks and boisterous fun then he is absolutely wrong.

Matter of fact, peace in one’s life and his efforts to help bring peace in others’ lives is essentially the fundamental basis of Hindu culture and festivals. Practically speaking, there is no devotion to God without “peace”.  Therefore, “Shanti” (peace) is one of the most paramount peace mantras in Sanskrit, not “Ashanti” which, of late, is the hallmark of such Hindu puja celebrations. The profound objective behind this peace mantra, as propounded in Upanishads, inspired even one of the greatest poets of the 20th Century – TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land. That poem finally ends with the same peace mantra — Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Fireworks
TS Eliot who underlined it with the purpose of life which he brought out in his epic poem – The Waste Land.

It should not be misunderstood ever that Hinduism disapproves of all kinds of fun and frolic. No, it is never so.  We can have various kind of festival enjoyments but without ever causing problem to others and the environment. There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna LilaRam Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”. Ancient sages in their meditation conceived and authored a number of treatises in which we find the elaborate approaches and procedures to evolve oneself spiritually through fun-filled dances and music. There are “ragas and layas” (musical modes and rhythm), which are meant to “recharge” the mind for the meditative concentrationThe objective behind being to climb up the ladders of realization of oneness and universal uniformity.

Fireworks
There are sufficient mentions of fun and frolic, merrymaking even in the spiritual activities — like Krishna Lila, Ram Lila…; and there exist endless nritya shashtras for healthy recreation and not Fireworks. But they all are within the “purview of Dharma”.

However, there is absolutely no scope or prescription for deriving pleasure or fun by causing pain and anxieties to others? How come bursting high decibel fireworks at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM is puja? In fact, it is called “adharma” or irreligion leading to self-degeneration.

ALSO READ: How Automation Can Help Scale Continuous Testing in Agile?

Therefore, it is DIYA, as per Vedas, which symbolizes the LIGHT to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the darkness of vices, and bring forth the light of knowledge to awake the “inherent” divinity. Goddess Laxmi is the “flame” of feminine ENERGY in the infinite cosmic creation. So, indulging in earsplitting fireworks and causing continuous problem to HER creatures, and HER environment, is totally against the fundamental principle of the devotion in Hinduism. Very sadly, with the blasting of the fireworks in the name of Goddess Laxmi we have invariably set off the tank of vices alone.

Salil Gewali is a well-Known Writer and Author of ‘Great Minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali