Tuesday March 19, 2019

Self-Enquiry leads to Self-Realization

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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

Westerners Adopt Indian Practices, Deny Giving Due Credits

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument.

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Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to protect our own heritage and Dharma. Hindu Council Of Australia

By Shashi Holla (WA) and Surinder Jain

Colonial or a white supremacy mind set may be clever enough to adopt Hindu practices but denies giving credit where it is due. Stealing Hindu Intellectual Property, they do not hesitate to rename and repackage so that they can sell it back to India for immense profits. Off course, they will leave no chance to tell Indians to stop their superstitious ways and to adopt the new scientific knowledge which “they” have “invented”.

Following has been already digested or appropriated by West. Some of the Western academics don’t believe that they belong to India.

Yoga Nidra   AS  Lucid Dreaming

Nadi Shodhana AS Alternate Nostrils Breathing

Vipassana  AS Mindfulness.

The latest addition to this list is

Pranamyam AS Cardiac Coherence Breathing

Several researchers have reported that pranayama techniques are beneficial in treating a range of stress-related disorders.[29] But the latest attempt has taken the appropriation too far. An American magazine “Scientific American” in its article titled “Proper Breathing Brings Better health” termed “Pranayama” as cardiac coherence breathing. (15 January 2019). The article gives us an idea about how West is so sophisticated in stealing knowledge from ancient cultures particularly Hinduism.

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Man doing Yoga. Wikimedia Commons

Prāṇāyāma is mentioned in verse 4.29 of the Bhagavad Gītā.[11] According to Bhagavad-Gītā As It Is, prāṇāyāma is translated to “trance induced by stopping all breathing”, also being made from the two separate Sanskrit words, prāṇa and āyām.[12] Pranayama is the fourth “limb” of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[14][15] Patanjali, a Hindu Rishi, discusses his specific approach to pranayama in verses 2.49 through 2.51, and devotes verses 2.52 and 2.53 to explaining the benefits of the practice.[16] Many yoga teachers advise that pranayama should be part of an overall practice that includes the other limbs of Patanjali’s Raja Yoga teachings, especially Yama, Niyama, and Asana.[18]

“Pranayama” a department of Yogic science practiced and documented 5000 years back ( even 15,000 years back) by Rishis is not even acknowledged by the author of the article. If one read the article they vaguely suggest that breathing exercises also existed in China, Hindu and in Greek culture.  This is how appropriation of ancient techniques takes place by West.  As Sankrat Sanu an entrepreneur, researcher and writer put it in his tweet “after erasing the origin they claim it as their own invention, attack original traditions as Superstition”.

As famous Indian American Author Rajiv Malhotra summarizes: “The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”. Its time Indians in general and Hindus in particular should be vigilant and should have an academic mind set to respond to such misadventures to  protect our own heritage and Dharma.

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The article standardizes cardiac coherence breathing as Chinese, Hindu, Greek and various traditions as equal origins, and then modern West turns it into science”.  Pixabay

There is an argument by some Hindu liberals thinking “what the problem in it”? They think our knowledge is globalized by West in the same way we consume inventions of the West. But it’s a very naïve argument. West has created an eco system and mechanism in which their knowledge system is Well protected and patented by international norms. Unless West does not give a new name and fits into their framework native wisdom is not recognized in academia and media. Whereas Hindus were generous in sharing their health techniques freely from millennium never thought they will struggle in proving things which belong to them. In fact in a westernized framework of Yoga and other techniques Indian scholars, insiders and practitioners are blatantly ignored. So our own knowledge will be repackaged and exported back to us at an extra price and conditions.

Also Read: Climate Change Will Melt Vast Parts of Himalayas: Study

Many of our practices are being called to be Biofeedback systems. According to WikipediaBiofeedback systems have been known in India and some other countries for millennia. Ancient Hindu practices like yoga and Pranayama (breathing techniques) are essentially biofeedback methods. Many yogis and sadhus have been known to exercise control over their physiological processes. In addition to recent research on Yoga, Paul Brunton, the British writer who travelled extensively in India, has written about many cases he has witnessed. (Hindu Council Of Australia)