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Atma Bodha Verses 11-20
Atma is all pervading therefore IT has no form or shape, therefore no conditionings… no parts, no organs, no differences (bhedam). That indescribable Atman exists in each and every appearing thing.
IT is the substratum of all… booma, refers to is ‘biggest’ but there is no comparable. That atma is Happiness, everything else that we seem to enjoy through senses is but pleasure and joy, a fraction or a glimpse of that Happiness.
That atma is in all, like thread in a beaded chain, holding all beads together, atma is the substratum of all appearances.
Due to many conditionings, One appears as many like the water in coke, pepsi, wine, beer, tomato juice etc, with additions and deletions. say he’s Christian, she’s hindu, muslim, he’s educated, male, female, poor, rich, doctor, engineer, single, married. These are the labels of the body.
All these differences are due to the conditioning, thoughts in our mind… These are words with no real existence. Atman is completely veiled by these impurities. These are the dirt that needs to be removed in their entirety for the true Self to shine forth. The example is the famous snake & rope as mentin verse seven.
The Truth, brahman is vibhuhu, is all pervading, everywhere, like space, without any shape, form or color. Everything appears due to maya (illusion), this illusion has the veiling power & projection power.
Verses 12-13-14 are very critical, with logical explanation. All verses have examples that are easily understood.
Only when we know what’s not true, we can eliminate them. Therefore these 3 verses describe what needs to be eliminated.
Brahman has no limitations like the space. In order to describe space, we need to know and eliminate what’s not space, so also, the process of negation is to be applied to realize Brahman. (Sathyam jnanam anantham brahma is only a point, not defining anything specific then IT becomes limited.) Therefore neti, its neti, process of negation is the only way to realize Brahman.
Man is not just physical body, mind too. Every being has three bodies.
Stula sariram – Gross body, visible, tangible, limited
Sukshma sariram – subtle body,
Karana sariram – causal body
Everything is made of five elements but the sense, ‘I am’ is not in all, except the human body. (stula sariram).
Everything in the universe is a mixture of five elements whether it is water or mud. Only human body has ‘I am’. Why?
What’s the difference? Pancheekritam… each body is made of five elements, created based on his karma phala, consequences of one’s past actions. It’s a combination of Space, Air, Fire, Water & Earth. (Yatha karma, yatha srutham).
Karma sanchitham… based on our karma and the combination of five elements together, we get the appropriate body to experience the good, bad. Actions, karma here means thought, word and deed. All beings whether plants, insects, animals or humans are all based on our own karma.
Body is a house to experience the results of our actions. Like if we need a heat or cold, we need go to a room where the heater or a/c is, we need to go where they are available! The experiencer is different from the room. Similarly atma takes a body, an appropriate place to experience the karma palan. (Boga ayathanam uchhate..to experience suka, dukka). This clearly means we’re different from the body, applies to all three bodies..
Scriptures say from Atman came space, from space came air, from air came fire, from fire came water, from water came earth.
A+pancheekritham, individually without combination, they’re called ‘tanmatras’. Like individual metal, not an alloy. They all appeared from atma… they mixed at a particular proportion and is called ‘panchikritham’, the grossification takes place in five definite scientific stages.
The process of Pancheekritam
There are individual elements
Each divide into two
Each one half divide into four and share the three of the second half, with three elements
Each half + four 1/8th bits, thus becomes the gross body.
This panchikritam and our prarabhda karma together form our physical bodies, also called ‘stula sarira’ to experience the results of our actions. (boga aayaathanam), body is a boga sathanam for atman, a place, a house.
Suksma sariram (subtle body) is behind stula sarira (tangible).
5+5+5+4 =19 items mixed, that means I am not IT (IT is undivided One, without a second)
Sukshma sarira, subtle body is an aggregate of the eight, namely,
(1) the five organs of action (karmendriyas),
(2) the five organs of perception (jnanendriyas),
(3) the five forms of prana, vital air
(4) the five subtle elements beginning with space
(5) the four divisions of the antahkaranam (manas, buddhi, chittam and ahamkara),
(7) desire, and
(8) the impressions of all actions,
is called the subtle body or sukshma sarira.
Karmendriyam ~ Five organs of actions refers to hands, feet, tongue(speech), reproductive, excretory organs.
Jnanendriyam ~ Five organs of perceptions/senses, ‘sabdha, sparsha, rupa, rasa, gandha’, senses to hear, touch, see, taste & smell.
Pancha Pranas PASUV (acronym) Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana, Vyana
Prana- life force (controls & regulates sense organs)
Apana- Excretory (reject unwanted items, throwing up, diarrhoea)
Samana- Digestive – makes the food ready for absorption
Udana – Capacity to evolve (learning, burp)
Vyana – Circulatory (distribution of nutrition)
not this… not this… why? Because the body is a combination of something, that’s holding them together, they can break apart, then it’s not One, permanent existence! Therefore the Self is not the stula sarira!
Mind is happy, sad, in fear, in desire, fluctuation, which are nothing but vikarams, divisions and therefore mind is not the atman. Mind is also a boga sadanam, house of experience, without the mind we cannot experience anything. The one who uses this mind is different from the mind. Mind is nothing but a bunch of thoughts..Therefore Self is not Sukshma sarira.
What can be seen is stula deham. Deham(body), that which can go through dhahanam (burning). What’s subtler than the body is linga sariram, also referred as mononmaya kosa. Both these are kosas, coverings on atma, though atman cannot be objectified.
The causal body is the cause for these two bodies, is Avidya, ignorance, the reason for stula, sukshma sarira. What’s the cause of that ignorance? Assuming there’s a reason, what’s the cause of that, what’s the cause of that, what’s the cause of that, we can keep on going. (Its called ‘ana+vastha dosham’ goes on infinitely).
Acharya says, Ignorance, Avidhya, has no beginning… A+nadi..(Adi) always exists… cannot be described, if it’s described, it’s no longer an ignorance, it becomes knowledge!
The fact that the world is seen means the ignorance exists. When we see the snake on a rope, ignorance exists, the reality (rope) is not known. When we see the rope, which is the substratum of the snake, the snake is gone, ignorance is gone! Similarly when we see the universe, we are ignorant, the substratum is not seen. (Realized souls would say, I only see brahman, there’s no world, the world dissolves just like the dissolved snake..)
Ignorance/avidya cannot be defined but is present before knowledge and is gone after knowledge, so does it really exist? Ignorance neither exists nor ‘not exists’… therefore it is anirvatchya… cause. No one can see or define ignorance, the example acharya gives here is like the Sun, that can never see the darkness. Darkness is but the absence of light, similarly ignorance is the absence of true knowledge and is the cause of stula and sukshma sarira.
Atman is beyond the three bodies. ‘Sat’ means that which exists in all three realms, times, ‘Asat’ means does not exist, ‘Mithya’ – is an appearance, maya. Atman, Self is Sat. Know THAT!
A very subtle and important concept explained in scripture is when we talk about one individual and discuss it is Vyashti, when we take collective existence, its called Samashti.
This body is made of five elements (human), that body (say a squirrel) is made of five elements, so are the worms, reptiles, lions, birds and every being on this planet, all are same five elements, nothing different. All five elements are the same therefore the entire universe is a collective existence, that’s samashti drishti… (universal collective vision)
Jagat is another word for the universe..jagat. (gatchathi iti jagat, keeps on moving, changing), something that’s understandable only by five senses is the gross world, (stula prapancham). This individual gross body is a part of that gross existence. Ignorance is the cause of this gross body and the gross universe.
Similarly, the cause of sukshma sarira, sukshma prapancham individual mind (vyashti) cosmic mind (samashti) is ignorance, also referred as ‘Karanopadhi’.
Three upadhis, stula, sukshma, karana are conditionings. The Self, as a witness, substratum, observer, that which is not connected with anything, a witness, sakshi If beyond these three bodies. That’s why it’s ‘Sat’, ever existent, does not go when the stula goes, sukshma goes.
This verse describes each & every being as a bundle of..
Three Sariram ~ the Gross, subtle, causal
Pancha Kosam (Five layers)
Food sheath (annamaya),
Vital air sheath (pranamaya),
Mind sheath (manonmaya),
Intellect sheath (vijnanamaya),
Bliss sheath (anandhamaya)
Three Realm, plane, states… (jagrat, swapna, sushupti) waking, dream & deep sleep states.
Atman is Self, Sakshi, One without a second!
Ego, Jivan is when we associate with at least one of the five kosas. For ex:
“I’m sitting here”… associated with body, annamaya kosa, anatomical
“I’m restless”..associated with mind/vital air, mononmaya kosa, physiological
“My heart beats fast, I am hungry, thirsty” ~ pranamaya kosa, psychological
“I’m coming” decision is made, vijnanamaya kosa, intellectual
“I’m delighted, excited ” anadhamaya kosa, Bliss sheath
If Atman is everywhere, how can I say, I’m sitting here?
This association with the body is a bondage. Then the question arises to the seeker, ‘when there’s this bondage, how can you say it’s nithyamuktan, a realized person?’
Verse 15 replies, with an example. A clear crystal, (spatikam) when placed on a colored cloth, takes the color of that cloth on which it is..similarly atman appears to be different due to the association with these five layers (kosas).
Atma is everywhere, this body is limited in space. Because of the association of the atman with the limited body that atma seems to be limited.
This union between the atma and kosa is bondage, when the union breaks, bond breaks… It appears to be associated with the kosas due to ignorance… it can never take the qualities of any of those.. Atma is has no attachment, (asangoyam purushaha), this association is mithya tadhatmyam, an appearance.
Every human should be able to disconnect the atman from these five kosas, need the guidance, training, efforts, & paths (sadanas). Seekers who asks questions to clarify doubts are called ‘Poorvapakshi’.
Atma is everywhere but to identify or find IT, one has to go within. It’s not available outside..even though IT is everywhere!! IT is not associated with anything..
This verse describes the process of negation to realize the atman, Self. This is not atma, this is not atma… how to find IT? Methods described are through logic, discrimination (viveka), identify the real Self via panchkosas.
Discrimination here refers to the ability to differentiate between the permanent and impermanent, (Nithyam/Anithyam, atma/anathma) This is the first step in the path of enquiry. Examples given here are: Just like the rice is separated from husk, and onion is peeled to get to the core. Or If you have a diamond you wrap it in a tissue paper, in a wallet, inside a box, inside the safe..so also atma, the supreme is inside the kosas. The seeker needs to go beyond the visible personality layers.
When we say, ‘I’m so and so’, we associate ourselves with body, mind, intellect, panchakosam… when this association is there, we’re not aware of our True Self!
Why does the acharya describe these bodies when I’m none of these? Because what needs to be negated must be known first… (yukti is the only way..logical discrimination)… Isolate anatma from atma through logical analysis..(apara from para).
Atman is everywhere but reflects only in clear pure intellect (clear mirror) just like Sun’s brightness is everywhere but Sun’s reflection is only in a clean mirror, compared to a water in a pot, pond, lake or ocean. So also, Atman reflects only on a clear, pure intellect.
First line, atman is different from deham, indriyam, buddhi, prakriti, (body, mind, intellect and nature)
What’s atman? (3rd line in verse 18) Tat vritti sakshi… witness not associated with anything..
Because of IT’s presence alone, this body, senses, buddhi all function. They’re all matter, inert, keep on changing, could be objectified, modified (vikaraha).
Atma cannot be modified nir+vikaram, cannot be objectified, not a matter. Atman is sakshi, witness, seer but the matter is seen. The seer is different from the seen. The subject of experience is different from the object of experience. Atman is the illuminator, separate from the illumined objects.
When analyzed, Atman is the witness of good and bad, pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, the actions of physical body and mind are all aspects of our outer and inner subjective life. Atman stands aloof from the happenings of the outer cosmic and our inner worlds. Everything happens just by ITs presence, just like when the boss is in his office, all employees are focused on their responsibilities.
The atman is covered, veiled, not seen. The moon appears to be moving when in fact, the clouds are moving. So also, to a person who’s associated with body, mind and intellect, a+viveki) the Atman appears to be active, in every transaction. Aviveki is the one who’s unable to differentiate atman from anatman, permanent from impermanence.
For example A lamp reflects on a mirror and the reflected light is also bright but true light is only in the lamp.
The Knowledge that expresses out of body, mind and intellect is like the reflected brightness. The Atman is the source of everything, without IT, the entire universe will stop!
In transactional reality, we think the atma is seeing and hearing! ‘Vyapari iva’, appears to be interacting but when in reality IT is only a witness. Those who are unable to discriminate between the nithyam from anithyam..ever existent and temporal is referred here as a+ viveki, ignorant.
All the actions and movements are of the sense organs and the Self is the nourisher for all organs to manifest.
It’s like petrol, gas in your vehicle that manifests all organs to function. It has no specific destination to reach.
Similarly the Atman expresses itself through the body, mind and intellect, it’s a witness. Without this unbiased witness, detached observer, nothing would move in the entire cosmos. When you don’t know it, it’s far away and when you know it, it’s very close. It’s the witness of ignorance.
The moon seems to be moving because we look at it through a moving medium, our mind. The grounded trees will appear to be moving from a moving train, so also atman seems to be active, agitated, happy and sad when it’s all for the mind.
The question posed here is ‘how can we say only atma has Chaitanyam (Intelligence) and not the body and mind? leading to the next verse.
Everything functions, feels only because of the presence of this Atman. In IT’s absence there’s no feeling, sense of touch, including the existence of atoms & molecules. Who’s behind all these? Nothing can act without Atman.
Lets go deeper into jnanam, Knowledge. Knowledge is of two types.
Vritti jnanam (light waves)… I see a chair but the moment I see a fridge, the first seen dissipates. The second replaces the first. First is gone, maybe not immediately but eventually… we don’t remember everything that we see in a store or as we walk. Whatever appears will disappear, it’s definite.
The second is nithya jnanam, transcendental Knowledge, awareness, not aware of! This Knowledge, once achieved, is never lost.
All knowledge, jnanam is perishable except prajnanam, (prajnanam brahma). Everything is leaning on that atma jnanam, Prajnanam brahma, It is Sat, ever present, no birth or death, without an appearance or disappearance. IT’s presence alone activates all organs to function.
The entire universe appears, all the five elements are inert, Atma alone understands, recognizes, is aware of because of Atma Chaitanyam, just like the Sun is not involved in anything but its presence makes everything and being vibrant. The birds chirp, people move about, animals hunt, flowers bloom because of the presence of Sun so also the presence of Atman. Atman alone IS!
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