The Means of Accomplishment

Chapter III

Advaita Bodha Deepika(Lamp of non-dual knowledge) On of the few books highly spoken of by Bhagavan Sri Ramanamaharshi.


1. To the question “How can there be samsara for the Supreme Self of Being-Knowledge-Bliss?”, the sages answer “When unmanifest, the power of the Self is called Maya, and when manifest, the same is mind. This mode of Maya, the inscrutable Mind, is the sprout of samsara for the self”.

D.: Who has said that mind is indescribable?

2-3. M.: Vasishta has said to Rama. In the non-dual Consciousness the bhava which, different from knowledge that is real and different from insentience that is unreal, tending to create, projects the latencies as this thing and that thing, mixes together the conscious and unconscious, and makes them appear under the categories, “the sentient” and “the insentient”, itself of the nature of both the sentient and insentient; always vacillating and changeful is mind. Therefore it is indescribable.

4. Though itself unchanging, the Supreme Self associated with the wrongly superimposed mind, appears to be changeful.

D.: How is that?

M.: Just as a Brahmin who is drunk, behaves strangely when in the power of liquors, so too the Self though unchanged by nature, associated now with mind, appears changed as the jiva wallowing in this samsara. Hence, the Self ‘s samsara is not other than mind. The srutis say so.

5. Mind being the samsara, must be investigated. Associated with mind which according to its modes assumes the shapes of objects, the man seems to undergo the same changes. This eternal secret is disclosed in the Maitryiniya Upanishad. This also isconfirmed by our experience and by positive and negative induction.

6-7. D.: How is it confirmed by our experience?

M.: When in deep sleep the mind lies quiescent, the Self remains without change and without samsara. When in dream and waking, the mind manifests, the Self seems changed and caught up in the samsara. Everyone knows it by experience. It is evident from sruti, smriti, logic and experience that this samsara is nothing but mind itself. How can any one dispute this point which is so obvious?

8-9. D.: How does association with mind entangle the Self in samsara?

M.: Mind whose nature is always to be thinking of this and that, functions in the two modes — the ‘I’ mode and ‘this’ mode, as already mentioned in Chapter I on Superimposition. Of these two, the I-mode has always the single concept ‘I’, whereas the this-mode varies according to the quality operating at the time, satva, rajas or tamas, i.e., clearness, activity or dullness.

D.: Who has said so before?

10-11. M.: Sri Vidyaranyaswami has said that the mind has these qualities, satva, rajas and tamas and changes accordingly. In satva, dispassion, peace, beneficence, etc., manifest; in rajas, desire, anger, greed, fear, efforts, etc., manifest; in tamas, sloth, confusion, dullness, etc.

12-14. Unchanged Pure Knowledge by nature, the Supreme Self when associated with the mind changing according to the operative qualities, becomes identified with it.

D.: How can that be?

M.: You see how water is of itself cold and tasteless. Yet by association, it can be hot, sweet, bitter, sour, etc. Similarly the Self, by nature Being-Knowledge-Bliss, when associated with the I-mode, appears as the ego. Just as cold water in union with heat becomes hot, so also the Blissful Self in union with  the ‘I’- mode becomes the misery-laden ego. Just as water,

originally tasteless, becomes sweet, bitter or sour according to its associations, so also the Self of Pure Knowledge appears dispassionate, peaceful, beneficent, or passionate, angry, greedy, or dull and indolent, according to the quality of the this-mode at the moment.

15. The sruti says that the Self associated with prana, etc., appears respectively as prana, mind, intellect, the earth and the other elements, desire, anger, dispassion, etc.

16. Accordingly associated with the mind, the Self seems changed to jiva, sunk in the misery of endless samsara, being deluded by innumerable illusions, like I, you, it, mine, yours, etc.

17. D.: Now that samsara has fallen to the lot of the Self, how can it be got rid of?

M.: With complete stillness of mind, samsara will disappear root and branch. Otherwise there will be no end to samsara, even in millions of aeons (Kalpakotikala).

18. D.: Cannot samsara be got rid of by any means other than making the mind still?

M.: Absolutely by no other means; neither the Vedas, nor the shastras nor austerities, nor karma, nor vows, nor gifts, nor recital of scriptures of mystic formulae (mantras), nor worship, nor anything else, can undo the samsara. Only stillness of mind can accomplish the end and nothing else.

19. D.: The scriptures declare that only Knowledge can do it. How then do you say that stillness of the mind puts an end to samsara?

M.: What is variously described as Knowledge, Liberation, etc., in the scriptures, is but stillness of mind.

D.: Has any one said so before?

20-27. M.: Sri Vasishta had said: When by practice the mind stands still, all illusions of samsara disappear, root and branch. Just as when the ocean of milk was churned for its nectar, it was all rough, but became still and clear after the churn (viz., mount Mandara) was taken out, so also the mind becoming still, the samsara falls to eternal rest.

D.: How can the mind be brought to stillness?

M.: By dispassion, abandoning all that is dear to oneself, one can by one’s efforts accomplish the task with ease. Without this peace of mind, Liberation is impossible. Only when the whole objective world is wiped out clean by a mind disillusioned as a consequence of discerning knowledge that all that is not Brahman is objective and unreal, the Supreme Bliss will result. Otherwise in the absence of peace of mind, however much an ignorant man may struggle and creep on in the deep abyss of the shastras, he cannot gain Liberation.

Only that mind which by practice of yoga, having lost all its latencies, has become pure and still like a lamp in a dome well protected from breeze, is said to be dead. This death of mind is the highest fulfilment. The final conclusion of all the Vedas is that Liberation is nothing but mind stilled.

For Liberation nothing can avail, not wealth, relatives, friends, karma consisting of movements of the limbs, pilgrimage to sacred places, baths in sacred waters, life in celestial regions, austerities however severe, or anything but a still mind. In similar strain many sacred books teach that Liberation consists in doing away with the mind. In several passages in the Yoga Vasishta, the same idea is repeated, that the Bliss of Liberation can be reached only by wiping out the mind, which is the root cause of samsara, and thus of all misery.

28. In this way to kill the mind by a knowledge of the sacred teaching, reasoning and one’s own experience, is to undo the samsara. How else can the miserable round of births and deaths be brought to a standstill? And how can freedom result from it? Never. Unless the dreamer awakes, the dream does not come to an end nor the fright of being face to face with a tiger in the dream. Similarly unless the mind is disillusioned, the agony of samsara will not cease. Only the mind must be made still. This is the fulfilment of life.

29-30. D.: How can the mind be made still?

M.: Only by Sankhya. Sankhya is the process of enquiry coupled with knowledge. The realised sages declare that the mind has its root in non-enquiry and perishes by an informed enquiry.

D.: Please explain this process.

M.: This consists of sravana, manana, nididhyasana and samadhi, i.e., hearing, reasoning, meditation and Blissful Peace, as mentioned in the scriptures. Only this can make the mind still.

31-32. There is also an alternative. It is said to be yoga.

D.: What is yoga?

M.: Meditation on Pure Being free from qualities. D.: Where is this alternative mentioned and how?

M.: In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Sri Bhagavan Krishna has said: What is gained by Sankhya can also be gained by yoga. Only he who knows that the result of the two processes is the same, can be called a realised sage.

33-34. D.: How can the two results be identical?

M.: The final limit is the same for both because both of them end in stillness of mind. This is samadhi or Blissful Peace. The fruit of samadhi is Supreme Knowledge; this remains the same by whichever process gained.

D.: If the fruit is the same for both, the final purpose can be served by only one of them. Why should two processes be mentioned instead of only one?

M.: In the world, seekers of truth are of different grades of development. Out of consideration for them, Sri Bhagavan has mentioned these two in order to offer a choice.

35. D.: Who is fit for the path of enquiry (Sankhya)?

M.: Only a fully qualified seeker is fit, for he can succeed in it and not others.

36-37. D.: What are the sadhanas or requisites for this process?

M.: The knowers say that the sadhanas consist of an ability to discern the real from the unreal, no desire for pleasures here or hereafter, cessation of activities (karma) and a keen desire to be liberated. Not qualified with all these four qualities, however hard one may try, one cannot succeed in enquiry. Therefore this fourfold sadhana is the sine qua non for enquiry.

38. To begin with, a knowledge of the distinctive characteristics of these sadhanas is necessary. As already pointed out, these distinctive characteristics are of the categories (hetu, Sv-av, kayR, Avi0, fl) cause, nature, effect, limit and fruit. These are now described.

39-44. Discernment (viveka) can arise only in a purified mind. Its ‘nature’ is the conviction gained by the help of sacred teachings that only Brahman is real and all else false. Always to remember this truth is its ‘effect’. Its end (avadhi) is to be settled unwavering in the truth that only Brahman is and all else is unreal. Desirelessness (vairagya) is the result of the outlook that the world is essentially faulty. Its ‘nature’ is to renounce the world and have no desire for anything in it. Its ‘effect’ is to turn away in disgust from all enjoyments as from vomit. It ends (avadhi) in treatment with contempt of all pleasures, earthly or heavenly, as if they were vomit or burning fire or hell.

Cessation of activities (uparati) can be the outcome of the eight fold yoga (astangayoga), namely, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi, i.e., self restraint, discipline, steady posture, control of breath, control of senses, mind collected to truth, meditation and peace. Its ‘nature’ consists in restraining the mind. Its ‘effect’ is to cease from worldly activities. It ends (avadhi) in forgetfulness of the world as if in sleep, owing to the ending of activities. Desire to be liberated (mumukshutva) begins with the association with realised sages. Its ‘nature’ is the yearning for liberation. Its ‘effect’ is to stay with one’s master. It ends (avadhi) in giving up all study of shastras and performance of religious rites.

When these have reached their limits as mentioned above, the sadhanas are said to be perfect.

45-47. Should only one or more of these sadhanas be perfect but not all of them, the person will after Death gain celestial regions. If all of them are perfect, they together quickly make the person thoroughly capable of enquiry into the Self. Only when all the sadhanas are perfect is enquiry possible; otherwise, not. Even if one of them remains undeveloped, it obstructs enquiry. With this we shall deal presently.

48-49. Dispassion, etc., remaining undeveloped, discern- ment, though perfect, cannot by itself remove the obstacles, to enquiry into the Self. You see how many are well read in Vedanta Shastra. They must all possess this virtue, but they have not cultivated the others, dispassion etc. Therefore they cannot undertake the enquiry into the Self. This fact makes it plain that discernment unattended by dispassion etc., cannot avail.

50-51. D.: How is it that even scholars in Vedanta have not succeeded in the pursuit of enquiry?

M.: Though they always study Vedanta and give lessons to others yet in the absence of desirelessness they do not practise what they have learnt.

D.: And what do they do otherwise?

M.: Like a parrot they reproduce the Vedantic jargon but do not put the teachings into practice.

D.: What does Vedanta teach?

M.: The Vedanta teaches a man to know that all but the non-dual Brahman is laden with misery, therefore to leave off all desires for enjoyment, to be free from love or hate, thoroughly to cut the knot of the ego appearing as ‘I’, you, he, this, that, mine and yours, to rid himself of the notion of

‘I’ and ‘mine’, to live unconcerned with the pairs of opposites as heat and cold, pain and pleasure, etc., to remain fixed in the perfect knowledge of the equality of all and making no distinction of any kind, never to be aware of anything but Brahman, and always to be experiencing the Bliss of the non- dual Self.

Though Vedanta is read and well understood, if dispassion is not practised, the desire for pleasures will not fade away. There is no dislike for pleasing things and the desire for them cannot leave the person. Because desire is not checked, love, anger, etc., the ego or the ‘false-I’ in the obnoxious body, the sense of possession represented by ‘I’ or ‘mine’ of things agreeable to the body, the pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain, and false values, will not disappear. However well read one may be, unless the teachings are put into practice, one is not really learned. Only like a parrot the man will be repeating that Brahman alone is real and all else is false.

D.: Why should he be so?

M.: The knowers say that like a dog delighting in offal, this man also delights in external pleasures. Though always busy with Vedanta, reading and teaching it, he is no better than a mean dog.

52. Having read all the shastras and well grounded in them, they grow conceited that they are all knowing, accomplished and worthy of respect; filled with love and hate they presume themselves respectable; they are only packasses esteemed for carrying heavy loads over long distances in difficult and tortuous ways. They need not be considered as regards non-dual Truth. In the same strain Vasishta has spoken much more to Rama.

53. D.: Have there been those who being well read in the shastras have not practised their teachings?

M.: Oh, many. We have also read of them in the puranasOnce there was a Brahmin, Brahma Sarma by name. He was well versed in the Vedas and the Vedanta and otherwise an accomplished man too. He would not practise what he had learnt but would give lessons in it to others. Filled with love and hate, transgressing the code of conduct by acting according to greed, and otherwise enjoying himself according to his own sweet will, after death he passed to hell. For the same reason, so many more also went the same way.

In the world we see so many learned pandits consumed by pride and malice. No doubt a study of Vedanta makes one discerning. But if this is not accompanied by dispassion etc., it is useless and does not lead to enquiry.

54-56. D.: Will discernment together with dispassion meet the end?

M.: No. In the absence of cessation of activities, these two are not enough for a successful pursuit of enquiry. In its absence there will be no desire to enquire into the Self. How can we speak of success in it?

D.: What will a man with dispassion do if he does not take to enquiry into the Self?

M.: Activities not ceasing, there is no tranquillity; being desireless he dislikes all enjoyments and cannot find pleasure in home, wealth, arts, etc.; so he renounces them, retires into solitary forests and engages in severe but fruitless austerities. The case of King Sikhidhvaja is an example of this.

57-59. D.: Then will discernment together with desire- lessness and cessation of activities achieve the end?

M.: Not without the desire to be liberated. If this desire is wanting, there will be no incentive to enquire into the Self.

D.: What will the man be doing then?

M.: Being desireless and peaceful, he will not make any effort but remain indifferent.

D.: Have there been men with these three qualities who did not take to enquiry into the Self?

M.: Yes. Dispassion is implied in all austerities; the mind too remains one pointed for tapasvis; yet they cannot enquire into the Self.

D.: What do they do then?

M.: Averse to external pursuits, with their minds con- centrated, they will always remain austere in animated suspense like that of deep sleep, but not enquire into the Self. As an instance in point, the Ramayana says of Sarabhanga rishi that after all his tapasya he went to heaven.

D.: Does not heaven form part of the fruits of enquiry?

M.: No. Enquiry must end in Liberation, and this is freedom from repeated births and deaths which does not admit of transit from one region to another. Sarabhanga’s case indicates that he could not and did not enquire into the Self. Therefore all the four qualifications are essential for enquiry.

60-61. A simple desire to be liberated unaccompanied by the other three qualities will not be enough. By an intense desire for liberation a man may take to enquiry but if otherwise unqualified, he must fail in his attempt. His case will be like that of a lame man wistfully yearning for honey in a honey comb high up on a tree; he cannot reach it and must remain unhappy. Or, the seeker may approach a master, surrender to him and profit by his guidance.

D.: What authority is there for saying that a man not otherwise qualified but intensely desirous of liberation remains ever unhappy?

62. M.: In the Suta Samhita it is said that those desirous of enjoyments and yet yearning for liberation are surely bitten by the deadly serpent of samsara and therefore dazed by its poison. This is the authority.

In the view that all the four qualities must be together and in full, there is complete agreement between the srutis, reason and experience. Otherwise even if one of them is wanting, enquiry cannot be pursued to success, but after death regions of merit will be gained. When all the four qualities are perfect and together present, enquiry is fruitful.

63-69. D.: In conclusion who are fit for enquiry into the Self?

M.: Only those who have all the four requisite qualities in full, are fit, and not others, whether versed in Vedas and shastras or otherwise highly accomplished, nor practisers of severe austerities, nor those strictly observing the religious rites or vows or reciting mantras, nor worshippers of any kind, nor those giving away large gifts, nor wandering pilgrims etc. Just as the Vedic rites are not for the non-regenerate so also enquiry is not for the unqualified.

D.: Can want of requisite qualities disqualify even a very learned scholar?

M.: Be he learned in all the sacred lore or ignorant of all of it, only the four fold requisites can qualify a man for enquiry. The sruti says: “The one whose mind is in equipoise, senses controlled, whose activities have ceased and who possesses fortitude” is fit for this. From this it follows that others are not competent but only those who are possessing the four fold virtues.

70. D.: Is any distinction made amongst seekers who are competent?

M.: For enquiry into the Self there is absolutely no distinction bearing on caste, stage of life or other similar matters. Be the seeker the foremost scholar, pandit, illiterate man, child, youth, old man, bachelor, householder, tapasvi, sanyasi, brahmin, kshatriya, vaisya, sudra, a chandala or a woman, only these four qualifications make up the seeker. This is the undisputed view of the vedas and shastras

71. D.: This cannot be. How can illiterate men, women and chandalas be qualified to the exclusion of a pandit learned in the shastras? He must certainly be more qualified than others. You say that a knowledge of the shastras is no qualification but practice of their teachings is. No one can practise what he has not known. How can an illiterate person qualify himself in the requisite manner?

M.: In reply I ask you and you tell me — how does the learned man qualify himself?

D.: Because he has known the teachings of the shastras that he should not do karma for selfish ends but dedicate it to God, he will do so; his mind will be purified; gradually he will acquire the dispassion etc., needed for enquiry. Now tell me how an illiterate man can qualify himself.

M.: He also can. Though not learned now, he might have learnt the teachings in preceding births, done actions dedicated to God; his mind being already pure enough, he can now readily acquire the qualities needed for enquiry into the Self.

72. D.: In the illiterate man, should the sadhanas acquired in preceding births and later lying as latencies, now manifest themselves, why should not his learning acquired in those births similarly manifest itself now?

M.: Some of his past karma may obstruct only the learning from re-manifesting itself.

D.: If the learning is obstructed, how is not the sadhana also obstructed from manifestation?

M.: Though the learning is obstructed, the fruits of his valuable labour cannot be lost; he cannot lose his competence for enquiry.

73. D.: What would happen if his four fold sadhanas were obstructed as well as his learning?

M.: The result would be that for want of the requisite qualities neither the scholar nor the other would be fit for enquiry. Both would be equal.

74-76. D.: No. This cannot be. Though not already qualified, the scholar having known the teachings can put them into practice and gradually qualify himself, whereas the other with all his studies had not already succeeded in his preceding births, and what hope can there be now that he has forgotten what he had learnt and his sadhanas are obstructed? Obviously he cannot be successful in enquiry.

M.: Not so. Though illiterate a man anxious for liberation will approach a master, learn from him the essence of the scriptures, earnestly practise the teachings and succeed in the end. Just as a worldly man ignorant of scriptures yet desirous of heaven, seeks guidance from a master and by observance, worship and discipline, gains his end, so also by a master’s teachings even an illiterate man can certainly benefit as much as the scholar with his knowledge.

77-78. D.: Religious rites bear fruits only according to the earnestness of the man. Only if the seeker of Truth is earnest can a master’s guidance act in the same manner. Otherwise how can it be?

M.: Just as earnestness is the essential factor for reaping fruits from karma, so it is with the practice of sadhanas by the learned scholar or the master’s disciple. Karma or sadhana cannot succeed if interest is wanting in them. A scholar or an illiterate man reaps the fruits of karma according to the interest he takes in its performance. One who is not earnest need not be con- sidered in any matter concerning the Vedas or a master.

79. A scholar or an illiterate man, if he has not already qualified himself as aforesaid, but is now desirous of liberation, should in right earnest practise the sadhanas so that he may qualify himself now at least. He will later be fit for enquiry. So no distinction can be made between a scholar and an illiterate man.

80. D.: If so, regarding fitness for enquiry into the Self, how does a scholar differ from an illiterate man?

M.: The difference lies only in the learning and not in the practice of sadhana or enquiry.

81-82. D.: No. This cannot be. Though learning does not make any difference in sadhana, it must certainly weigh in favour of the scholar in the pursuit of enquiry.

M.: Not so. Shastra is not the means for enquiry. The means consist of desirelessness etc. Only these can qualify a man for enquiry and a learning of the shastras does not make any difference. Therefore a scholar has no advantage over an illiterate man in the field of enquiry.

83-85. D.: Granted that dispassion etc. form the means for success in enquiry, even with the necessary sadhanas the enquiry into the Self must be pursued only in the light of the shastras. Therefore the study of the shastras should be indis- pensable for the successful pursuit of enquiry.

M.: Nonsense! No Shastra is required to know the Self. Does any one look into the Shastra for the Self? Surely not.

D.: Only if the Self is already known, Shastra will not be required for enquiry into the Self. But the seeker being deluded has not known his true nature. How can an illiterate man realise the Self without studying the shastras which deal with the nature of the Self? He cannot. Therefore the shastras must be learnt as a preliminary to realisation.

M.: In that case the knowledge of the Self got from the shastras will be like that of heaven mentioned in the Vedas, i.e., indirect and not directly experienced. This knowledge corresponds to hearsay and cannot be direct perception. Just as the knowledge of the form of Vishnu always remains indirect and there is no direct perception of the four armed being or again the knowledge of heaven can only be indirect in this world, so also the knowledge of the Self contained in the shastras can only be indirect. This leaves the man where he was, just as ignorant as before. Only the knowledge of direct experience can be true and useful; the Self is to be realised and not to be talked about.

86-88. D.: Has any one said so before?

M.: Sri Vidyaranyaswami has said in Dhyana Deepika:

The Knowledge of the figure of Vishnu gained from shastras that He has four arms, holding a disc, a conch, etc., is only indirect and cannot be direct. The description is intended to serve as a mental picture for worship and no one can see it face to face. Similarly to know from the shastras that the Self is Being-Knowledge-Bliss amounts to indirect knowledge and cannot be the same as experience. For the Self is the inmost being of the individual or the consciousness witnessing the five sheaths; it is Brahman. This not being realised, a superficial knowledge is all that is gained by reading the shastras. It is only indirect knowledge.

D.: Vishnu or heaven being different from the Self can only be objective whereas the Self is subjective and its knowledge, however gained, must be only direct and cannot be indirect.

M.: Although spontaneously and directly the Vedanta teaches the Supreme Truth, “That thou art” meaning that the inmost being of the individual is Brahman, yet enquiry is the only sure means of Self realisation. Sastric knowledge is not enough, for it can only be indirect. Only the experience resulting from the enquiry of the Self can be direct knowledge.

89-90. Vasishta also has said to the same effect. Shastra, Guru and upadesa are all traditional and do not straightway make the seeker directly realise the Self. The purity of the seeker’s mind is the sole means for realisation and not shastra nor the guru. The self can be realised by one’s own acute discernment and by no other means. All shastras agree on this point.

91. From this it is clear that except by enquiry the Self can never be realised, not even by learning Vedanta

92. D.: The Self must be realised only by a critical study of the shastras. Otherwise what can be the enquiry into the Self but a critical and analytical study of the shastras?

93. M.: In the body, senses etc., the concept “I” persists. With a one pointed mind turned inwards to look out for this “I” or the Self, which is the inmost Being within the five sheaths, is the enquiry into the Self. To seek elsewhere outside the body by an oral recital of Vedanta Shastra or a critical study of its words, cannot be called enquiry into the Self which can only be a thorough investigation into the true nature of the Self by a keen mind.

94-96. D.: Can the Self not be known by reading and understanding the shastras?

M.: No. For the Self is Being-Knowledge-Bliss, different from the gross, subtle and causal bodies, witnessing the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. Always to exercise the vocal organs in reading the shastras, or with a thorough knowledge of grammar, logic and diction to critically examine the scripture and make out its meaning, cannot reveal the Self which is within.

D.: How can it be realised?

M.: By the mind to examine the nature of the five sheaths, by experience to determine them, then to discard each of them step by step “this is not the Self — this is not the Self”, and by mind thus grown subtle to look for the Self and realise It as the witnessing Consciousness lying beyond the five sheaths — forms the whole process. The Self cannot be seen without. It is over- spread by and lies hidden in the five sheaths. In order to find It, the intellect must be made to turn inwards and search within, not to look for It in the shastras. Will any man in his senses search in a forest for a thing lost in his home? The search must be in the place where the thing lies hidden. In the same way the Self covered over by the five sheaths must be looked for within them and not among the shastras. The shastras are not the place for It.

97. D.: True, the Self cannot be found in the shastrasFrom them a scholar can learn the nature of the five sheaths, intellectually examine, experience and discard them, in order to find and realise the Self. How can the other man ignorant of the nature of the Self or of the five sheaths pursue the enquiry?

M.: Just as the scholar learns from books, so the other learns from the master. Later, enquiry remains the same for both.

98-99. D.: Does it follow that a master is necessary for an illiterate man and not for a scholar?

M.: Scholar or illiterate, no one can succeed without a master. From the beginning of time, unable to realise the Self without a master, the seekers even learned in all the shastras always sought a master to enlighten them. Narada went to Sanatkumara; Indra to Brahma; Suka to king Janaka. Unless the master is gracious to him, no man can ever be liberated.

100-101. D.: Has any one illiterate been liberated by Guru’s Grace only?

M.: Yes. Yagnavalkya helped his wife Maitreyi to be liberated. Many other women ignorant of the shastras e.g., Leela and Chudala were also liberated while alive. Therefore even those ignorant of the shastras are qualified for enquiry into the Self.

102-108. It must now be obvious that the make up of the best qualified seeker consists in dispassion, resulting from discernment of the real from the unreal, so that he discards all enjoyments here and hereafter as if they were poison or vomit or blazing fire, retires from all activities to remain quiet like a man in deep sleep, but finding himself unable to remain so owing to unbearable pains, physical and mental, as if the hair of his head had caught fire and was burning, he cannot feel happy nor bear the agony even a minute longer and burns in anguish feeling “When shall I be free? How and by what means can I be liberated?”

For the best seeker all the qualifications must be full up to the above said category “limit” (avadhi). For the next in scale, the good seeker, the qualifications are developed only to the “effect” stage; for the middling, only to the “nature” stage; and for the lowest, only to their “cause” stage. These stages determine the success of the seeker’s efforts.

109. Immediate success attends the efforts of the best qualified; some time elapses before the next in grade succeeds; a longer time is required for the middling; and only a prolonged and steady practice can enable the low-grade seeker to succeed.

110-112. Their perplexity of minds does not allow the last two grades of seekers to take to enquiry. Their minds are more readily composed by yoga, which is more suited to them than enquiry. The first two grades of seekers readily profit by enquiry which is more suited to them than yoga.

113-114. In Dhyana Deepika, Sri Vidyaranyaswami has said: “The path of enquiry cannot lead to success to the seekers whose minds are confused. To bring down the false notion of their minds, yoga is necessary. The minds of those who are fully qualified, are not confused but remain one pointed; only the veiling power of Ignorance still hides the Self from them; they await only awakening. Enquiry is the process of awakening; therefore it best suits them.”

115-118. Yoga can be successful only after a long, steady, earnest, diligent and cautious practice without needless strain.

D.: Why should one be so heedful about it?

M.: When the attempt is made to fix the mind in the Self, it gets restive and drags the man through the senses to the objects. However resolute and learned the man may be, his mind remains wayward, strong, mulish, and hard to restrain. Wanton by nature, it cannot remain steady for a moment; it must run here, there and everywhere; now it dwells in the nether regions and in a trice it flies up in the sky; it moves in all the directions of the compass; and it is capricious like a monkey. It is hard to fix it. To do so, one must be heedful.

119-121. In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna asked Sri Bhagavan: ‘O Krishna! Is not the mind always capricious, disturbing to the man and too strong to be checked? It is easier to hold the air in the fist than to control the mind’.

In the Yoga Vasishta, Sri Rama asked Vasishta: ‘O master! Is it not impossible to control the mind? One may sooner drink up the oceans or lift up Mt. Meru or swallow flaming fire than control the mind.’ From the words of Rama and Arjuna, and our own experience, there can be no doubt that it is exceedingly difficult to control the mind however able and heroic one may be.

122-124. D.: Control of mind being so difficult, how can yoga be practised at all?

M.: By dint of practice and dispassion, the mind can be brought under control. The same has been said by Sri Bhagavan to Arjuna and by Vasishta to Sri Rama. Sri Krishna said : “O Son of Kunti! There is no doubt that the mind is wayward and difficult to control. Nevertheless by dint of practice and dis- passion it can be controlled.” Vasishta said: “O Rama, though the mind is hard to control yet it must be subdued by dispassion and effort even at the cost of wringing your hands, clenching your teeth and holding down the senses and limbs; it must be accomplished by will power.”

Therefore intense effort is necessary for the purpose.

125-127. The honey bee of the mind ever living in the lotus of the heart turns away from the sweet honey of unequalled Bliss of the Heart lotus, and desirous of honey bitter with misery, collected outside as sound, touch, form, taste and smell, always flies out through the senses. Though by dispassion the senses are forcibly closed and the mind shut in, yet remaining within, it will be thinking of the present or recollecting the past or building castles in the air.

D.: How can even its subtle activities be checked and itself completely subdued?

M.: Checking its external activities and confining it within, this bee of the mind must be made to be drunk with the honey of the Heart lotus, i.e., the Bliss of the Self.

128. D.: Please explain this yoga

M.: With an intense desire for Liberation, reaching a Guru, hearing from him the non-dual Brahman shining forth as Being- Knowledge-Bliss of the Self, understanding It though indirectly yet as clearly as one understands Vishnu etc., turning the mind one pointedly to this Brahman, without taking to enquiry by reflection (manana) always meditating on the non-dual Self of Being-Knowledge-Bliss, attributeless and undifferentiated, is called yoga. By its practice the mind becomes tranquil and can gradually go to samadhi. In samadhi it will experience the Supreme Bliss.

129-130. D.: Has any other said so before?

M.: Yes. Sri Bhagavan has said: The yogi who, controlling the mind, always turns it upon the Self, becomes perfectly calm, and ultimately gains Me i.e., the Bliss of Liberation. The mind of the yogi who always practises yoga, will be steady like a flame protected from the breeze and without movement will pass into samadhi.

131-133. Similarly by enquiry, the mind readily gains peace and samadhi.

D.: What is this enquiry?

M.: After hearing from the Guru about the nature of the Self which in the shastras is spoken of as Brahman or Being- Knowledge-Bliss, to gain a clear indirect knowledge, then according to upadesa and by intelligent reasoning to enquire and find out the Self which is Pure Knowledge, and the non- self which is objective and insentient like the ego, to discern and sift them, then directly to experience them as different from each other, later on by meditation to extinguish all that is objective, and to absorb into the Self the residual mind left over as non-dual, ends in the direct experience of Supreme Bliss. Here it has been described in brief, but the shastras deal with it elaborately.

134. This chapter on Sadhana has dealt with these two means, Enquiry and Yoga, for making the mind still. According to his merits an intelligent seeker should practise either of them.

135. This Chapter is meant for the earnest student in order that he may study carefully and analyse his qualifications to ascertain what he already has and what more are wanted. After properly equipping himself he can find out which of these two methods suits him and then practise it till success.


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