Friday, June 17, 2011


(Excerpts from Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana - Book II)

[Maybe out of curiosity or to make sure that we correctly understood Advaita or perhaps to calibrate ourselves, we would like to know how a liberated man functions in the world. Passionate discussions are often held at many philosophical fora citing diverse authorities regarding the mind of a liberated man and how he could function within the phantasmagorical world albeit abiding in Brahman. Yogavaasishta is an ancient authoritative Advaitic scripture of about 32,000 verses divided into six chapters. The last chapter is Nirvana. It comes in two parts – Purva and Uttara. The philosophic teaching by Sage Vasishta till the end of the Purva part was primarily addressed to a seeker striving for Enlightenment. The most qualified and mature student Rama attains Self-realization by the end of the Purva part. But the author, Sage Valmiki, doesn’t end the text at that point. He continues the discourse of Sage Vasishta into a voluminous Uttara part where Rama’s questions are treated in a new light – befitting a Self-realized student. The second part of the Chapter Nirvana is thus a gold mine of information about the life after Self-realization.
Presented here are Excerpts from a forthcoming Book – Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana - Book II by Shri K.V. Krishna Murthy, English Translation by Dr. Vemuri Ramesam to be published by Datta Peetham, Mysore, India – ramesam]

(Excerpts from Yogavaasishta, Chapter VI: Nirvana - Book II)

1. Functioning in the World without a “me”:

Rama: Revered Teacher! Your instruction is to forego ego. You say that the ideas of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ should be given up. If we get rid of the me-mine concepts, the body and senses together with life itself may collapse having lost their relevance. In effect it is the death of the seeker. Liberation has a meaning only if the man is alive. Has the individual to be dead in order to attain liberation?

Vasishta: Rama! You seem to say that the body will be lost if mentation ends. What exactly is mentation? The idea that “I am the body” over this lump of the skin, bones and flesh is by itself a mentation. To abide in infinite Consciousness forsaking such contracted perspective is the abandonment of mentation. The notion that all the appearances including the body are real is an imagination. Considering everything that is perceived as a form of the Supreme Consciousness is abandonment of mentation. Another way to express the same is that cognition of objects is conceptualization and non-cognition is giving up of the conceptualization.

Rama: Well then Sir, who causes the body to come about and what sustains it?

Vasishta: That is called Praarabdha (Current Sufferage). It is the effect of past actions. It brings about the body. It sustains it. When once the Current Sufferage is expended away, the body will collapse irrespective of the fact whether you gave up on mentation or not. As long as the Current Sufferage lasts, nothing happens to the body even if you relinquish mentation. Also remember that mentation can be given up only by a living individual. A dead man cannot do it. As a matter of fact mind becomes placid when once you abandon conceptualization. The life span of such a Yogi will increase but will not diminish. Hence Rama, do give up all mentation without any reservation. Let no new innate tendencies (sanskaras) settle in you. Go ahead and perform fearlessly all actions that come upon you because of the effects of past actions. I say this with all my force. I said this in the past too.

Concisely expressed, conceptualization is bondage. Conceptualization implies imagination. Getting rid of imagination is liberation.

Rama: How does one do it?

Vasishta: No specific action needs to be carried out for this. Nor is there any ‘thing’ to be eschewed. Just be as you are. Consider what all you do as inaction. Inaction means non-doership, an absence of agency for action. Perform only the most essential and obligatory works as inaction. Acting thus, abide forever peacefully and happily in pristine Supreme Consciousness.   (Sarga 1).

2. Knower of Truth and Expert on Truth:

Rama: Sir! Who is a Knower of Truth and who is an Expert on Truth? Please explain the benefits that accrue from attaining the Knowledge of Truth.

Vasishta: A man may study spiritual scriptures for gainful employment just as another may learn several of the worldly trades like sculpture etc. As he is undoubtedly scholarly, he may be able to explicate and analyze well what is Truth but hardly ever would try to practice what he knows. Such a person is an Expert on Truth. He has a good grip on the Knowledge of Truth. His behavior and attitude do not, however, show any effect of his knowing the Truth. Just like the experts in other fields, he will be concerned with his name and income. Let me tell you, the only true knowledge is the Knowledge of Truth. All other subjects of study are imaginary accretions (unreal mirror reflections of Truth).

Rama: Do you mean to suggest that only a perfect Knower of Truth is truly knowledgeable and the rest of the seekers are lowly Experts on Truth?

Vasishta: Seekers are mere experts of Truth but they are not lowly. What I talked was about the pretentious and scholarly lot who never even aspire for liberation. It is such people who are morons. They are the inferior ones who really qualify to be called as the Experts of Truth. There is another type of Experts of Truth. They are the ones who implement what was learnt from the scriptures. They struggle sometimes achieving success and sometimes facing failure. They are the pious Experts of Truth. The term “Expert of Truth” connotes a different meaning in their case. It indicates their condition of being attached to Truth. They will not remain as ignorant persons, though they may not be true Knowers of Truth either, because of their bondage to Truth. Such people are not afflicted by temptation for enjoyment. Hence, a seeker should be first a pious Expert of Truth. (Sarga 21)

3. The Happiness of Liberation and The Happiness of Object Experience:

Rama: Why should we call the happiness from Liberation as self-luminous? Why can’t it be an experiential thing like the happiness from objects?

Vasishta: If a thing is to be experienced, I-consciousness has to exist prior to the experience. But liberation is obtained only after the eradication of I-consciousness. In view of the absence of I-consciousness, the experiencer, it cannot be like experiencing an object.

Rama: Will a liberated man be able to experience the world or not? If he sees the world, there is no difference between an ordinary person and the liberated individual. If he is unable to sense the world, he will be equivalent to an insentient stone. In that case, we have to admit that all stones have been liberated. Will you comment on this please?

Vasishta: A liberated individual does see the world. But he does not differentiate it (look at it to be different from himself) as does an ordinary person. The world appears to him as Brahman. Hence both the shortcomings that you mention do not hold.

Rama: If the world appears to him as Brahman, how can it be untrue then?

Vasishta: I never said that the Consciousness from which the liberated individual witnesses the world to be unreal. I said that the name and form superimposed on it were untrue. I also said that the first and foremost superimposition was I-consciousness. That, in fact, is nescience (ignorance). ( Sarga 29.)

4. Even desire is Brahman:

Rama: If everything is Brahman, even desire is Brahman. Why should then one abjure wanting?

Vasishta: It is true that desire too is Brahman. But the moment you have this awareness, no desires generate in you! After all, Brahman does not arise or set! A sure sign of Self-Realization is a noticeable reduction in desires.

Please consider, who experiences the illusory world? Only a ‘person’ who is himself non-existent is deluded and feels he sees a world! The uncanny and weird thing in the illusion of the world is that there is no real one who truly experiences the phantasm of the world. In other words, the miasma takes place without any one being really existing there. It is obvious from this that the world is non-existent in Truth.

Everything is Brahman in one view. Upending the logic, we say nothing exists. Thus even desire is Brahman in one sense. There is also another view. It says, ‘Non-origination of desires is much better in order to attain the Bliss of Self.’ But what is desire? Self-Consciousness flowing outwards through the sensory spheres is desire. That is the mind. And that is the world. Countering the outward flow is desirelessness which is nothing but liberation! (Sarga 37)

A person in whom desires are annihilated is like a lamp that is extinguished. The ideas of ‘me or mine’ do not arise in him at all. (Sarga 38)

5. Can A Jivanmukta Teach:

Vasishta: You may now wonder how I am able to teach you if there is no I-consciousness in me because an individual with a sense of ‘me and mine’ cannot be a Self-realized man.

The assembled audience here imagines that I am delivering a sermon. That’s their view. But I am least concerned by their perception. From my stance, no-thing is happening here. There’s no Vasishta-body around. This body you see in front of you is a superimposition (illusory visualization by you) on the Supreme Brahman. The speech you hear too is like that. The entire world that has come about owing to nescience slowly disintegrates as you progress on the Path of Knowledge. Neither you will be there nor me at the end. Nor will this business of ongoing discourses. Only the Self-effulgence of the Supreme Brahman would be the remnant permeating everywhere. ( Sarga 39).

The strange thing here is that one who is himself Brahman does not notice any world. A person within the world cannot notice Brahman. A Jivanmukta sees both. But as the Jivanmukta progresses further on the Path, he leaves out duality completely and merges in the ineffable Brahman. ( Sarga 40).

6. The Ego of a Liberated Man:

Vasishta: The natural state of every individual is to have the Knowledge that he is Brahman. Forgetfulness of that natural state is ignorance which is not his intrinsic characteristic. People who are ignorant are swooshed into the drama of the three worlds. The mad drama ceases when they are brought back to their natural state. (Sarga 41).

Rama: How can the ego take hold of a liberated man?

Vasishta: A gross body cannot be sustained in the absence of an ego whether it is a liberated individual or an ignorant person. No super structure can stand without a support. The point to be noted, however, is that the I-consciousness troubles an ignorant person but is harmless to a liberated individual. For a liberated man like me, the experiential feeling is the same when I let go the ego in deep meditation or when I accept it in the wakeful state for transacting in the empirical world. This is a distinguishing feature of the liberated individual. (Sarga 57).

7. Why does the World Continue Even After the First Man got Liberated?

Rama: Revered Sir, if everything is Consciousness, we have to admit that the Supreme Brahman who is Consciousness appears as the individual in the world. That individual gets liberated on the realization of Truth. The first individual created was Hiranyagarbha. When he got liberated after realization of the Truth, all the individuals conceived by him should also be liberated simultaneously along with him. No ignorant people would have remained behind. Then there is no scope for further creation to take place. But we still witness creation. How does this happen?

Vasishta: Rama, say you had a dream when you were asleep. As soon as you wake up, the entire dream world of yours is liberated. But there are certain remnant tendencies in your mind. Hence you get another dream the following night when you sleep. Neither the previous night’s dream nor the new dream is real from your viewpoint. Nevertheless, the ongoing dream is real for the dream character ‘you’ in the later dream. In the same way, the world exists in a latent form as a ‘tendency’ inside Pure Consciousness.

For a person of this world, the world is real. A liberated individual says that the world is unreal; but the person of the world does not believe him. Say there are two friends who observe the full moon in the sky. They find it to be of about 20 cm diameter. One of the friends, say, has the yogic power to fly in space. He flies to the lunar body, examines up close and returns to the earth. He tells his friend that the moon is not just 20 cm in diameter but is in fact a much much larger sphere. Still, the impression in the mind of his friend that the moon is of 20 cm dia will not get erased. The friend who traveled in space and returned to earth too still sees the moon to be only of 20 cm dia but will not agree that the moon is really so small. The difference between a person in bondage and a liberated individual is about the same. Thus, Rama, Hiranyagarbha may have attained liberation; but creation seemingly continues to go on for the person in bondage. (Sarga 61).

[To be continued ….]