A critical study of the self and the supreme
(Compilation for a discourse at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville TN, USA, January 2017)
Our knowledge of Self called Jivatma or Atman or Brahman and the Supreme called Paramaartman or Prabrhaman comes from Sruthi Prasthana (Vedanta sutra), Sukti Prasthana (upanishds and Smriti Prasthana (Bhagavd Gita) whose compiler or author is Vedavyasa.
Adisankara influenced initially by the Mahavakyas “Aham Brahmasmi”, “Tat Tvam asi” came out with the bold statement “Brahma(n) satyam” and “Jagan mithyam” The Self in us Is Paramatman and the Paramatman is the only Truth and the whole world is unreal which is true when we leave the world. Towards the end he realized the difference between the Self in him and Paramatman and so in his Atma Bodha and his last composition Bhaja Govindam strongly recommended to all to meditate on Vishnu, the sustenance aspect of Paramatman as long as we have to live through Samasara in life. Ramanuja picked up the missing link from here and came out with his Tripartite Model of Chit (soul or Atman or Self), Achit (the Non-soul or Matter) and Iswara (Paramatman or Parabrahman or Narayana). He felt Avidya cannot act on Parabrahman directly, for it is Intelligence. Nor it can operate on Self for these are outcome of action of avidya and cannot, therefore, be acted upon in anticipation. On account of these reasoning Ramanuja concluded that the theory of Maya or illusion is untenable and opposed to the spirit of Vedantasutra. As long as we are in Samasara the world is real and we have to deal with it. He drew strong support from Brahama sutras where the difference between Parabrahaman and Atman are well defined.
What remains when all traces of individuality in us are removed? It is the state of Pure Being. Moving from this unity or differentiating from this unity things acquire names and forms which sages called creation. This Unity the sages identified as Brahman. The word Brahman in Sanskrit comes from the root “brih” means to expand. Therefore we can conclude Brahman is the irreducible ground of existence, the essence of everything –The earth, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and all creations of even divines, gods and every life consisting of power. Taittareeya Upanishad started referring to Atman as Brahman based on Vedantasutra: “Atmagriheetiritaravaduttaram”--By the term “Atman” Paramatman alone is denoted as in other places and on account of the subsequent passage which runs as, “He desired may I have many”. In the present context we refer to Supreme as Parabrahman.
This Unity awareness can also be traced within oneself like in the macrocosm which sages called Aatman, the Self distinct from individual personality self. In all individuals and in all creatures this Self (always written with capital S) is the innermost essence. It is identical with Parabrahman and not with individual personality. Our real Self is not different from ultimate reality called God. Even in English GOD stands for: G for Generation (Creation), O for operation (Sustenance) and D for Dissolution.
Each Upanishad has its own style of expounding many an imperceptible Truth regarding the ultimate objects of life and Paramatman as the Supreme Cause. The main teachings of Upanishads can be summed up as follows:
1) Paramatman is the ultimate cause of this Universe and everything else is dependent upon that one Supreme Principle referred as Truth.
2) The Universe was caused in a systematic manner according to the will of the Supreme Principle.
3) The entity Jeevaatman or Self (Atman) in every being is an eternal principle without any origination or destination. It is going on through the cycle of births and deaths due to its attachments to the objects of the world from beginning-less time.
4) The Jeevaatman should become aware of its true nature and destiny and has to modify itself in such a manner that it gets rid of its association with matter.
5) Every being in this world is entitled to become liberated and merge with the Supreme Principle (Paramaatman) but it all depends on its own aspirations and efforts.
6) All sentient and non-sentient, humans, matter, time and the celestial abode are dependent upon the will of the Supreme Principle. It is therefore necessary to realize subservience to the Supreme Principle called Paramaatman, mentioned in Gita.
7) Upanishads teach the way of getting liberated from Samsaaraa in their own style. They teach that loving meditation of the Supreme Principle and complete surrender to its will are the means of Liberation (Mukti). Essentially it means Praayaschitta (repentance); Dhyaana (meditation); and Saranaagati (complete surrender at the feet of the Lord).
The special features of Vishishtadvaitic doctrine of Ramanuja can be summarized as follows;
1) Reality is knowable in all its level and aspects.
2) Knowledge presupposes a knower and an object of thought.
3) Atman is the essential nature of consciousness, qualified by attributive consciousness.
4) Substantive consciousness is self-realized, whereas the attributive consciousness reveals itself as well as other objects.
5) Substantive consciousness is a “Self-aware” or “Pratyak” principle, whereas the attributive consciousness is not aware of itself being a “Parak” principle.
6) The substantive consciousness is ever effulgent, and is unaffected by any transformation. But the attributive consciousness is subject to contraction during the state of Samasara, owing to the impact of Karma.
7) The attributive consciousness regains its original state of purity and all-pervasive nature during the state of liberation.
8) The attributive consciousness or Dharmabhuta Jnaanam is both an attribute and a substance.
9) Pleasure, pain, disease, aversion and effort are all different aspects of Dharmabhuta Jnaanam, and are implied in it.
10) Knowledge is “Brahma drishti”, as Parabrahman is the ground of all knowledge, as well as experiencer of all in the ultimate analysis.
Knowledge is an illumination of an object to the knowing self. The self is self-illuminous and is of the nature of substantive consciousness, Jnanaswarupa. The universal self as well as the finite selves are thus self-shining consciousness. They have also consciousness as their attribute. Thus Jnaanam (knowledge) is of two types namely Dharma Jnaanam and Dharmabhoota-jnaanam. Dharma Jnaanam is self-revealing, whereas Dharmabhoota-jnanam reveals itself as well as others. Knowledge is self-valid and self-revealed. The attributive consciousness is subject to contraction during the state of Samsara due to Karma, and it attains its original state of Mukti. All kinds of feeling like pleasure, pain, desire, anger, and others are all various effects of the attributive consciousness. The unseen sin or merit is again the will of the Divine to reward or punish, and these are the results of the attributive consciousness of the Divine.
The Dharmabhuta Jnaana has different states of both right knowledge and wrong knowledge in the state of Samasara, but in the state of liberation it is perfect, all pervasive and ever shining.
The utility of knowledge in the furtherance of our moral, ethical and spiritual purposes is thus properly emphasized in the synoptic definition of Jnaana as adopted by this school.
In depth exposition of Jeevatman and Paramaatman can be found in Aatma Upanishad, Svetasvataara Upanishad and Bhagvadgeetaa. Aatma Upanishad offers very simple and effective tripartite model of this transcendence. Both Ramanuja and Sankara are silent on Atma Upanishad and made use of the other two texts. The human being exists in an outer world and in an inner one, that is, in the physical body and environment, and the other in the realms of mind; yet there is something beyond both which cannot be described at all. This Upanishad thus distinguishes clearly the Jeevaatman from Paramaatman as in Svetasvatara Upanishad and Bhagavdgeetaa. It also extolls the effect of knowing that un-describable Paramaatman.
What survives when a person dies and the body is buried or burnt and continues to live on for being reincarnated? What is it that impels all the senses and the mind of a person to keep alive and active? Our sages contemplating on the same have come to the conclusion that it is the Aatman the soul or the Self as the abiding spirit behind the body and the mind of not only human but all living creatures.
This Aatman is neither born nor does it die with the birth and death of the body. It is unborn and eternal. It is different from the body, the senses, the vital airs (pancha praanas) and the ego-sense (ahamkaara) and is ever free. All the above functionaries in living beings are enlivened by it and made to work by it, for the living being. Their defects and the infirmities in the living being, or even the loss (loss of an organ or limb) can never affect the Aatman—the blind, the deaf, the lame can still function.
Yet this so called Aatman is encased and bound in the corporeal frame and has lost much of its freedom. It is called Jeevaatman or Jeeva in this state. This Jiva undergoes the inexorable consequence of its past actions called Karma. Nobody knows how the first Karma started this chain of bondage and all Upanishads and Geetaa are silent on it. Vedantasutra says the question is irrelevant as the Self itself is eternal (anaadi) and it came into existence as before. Upanishads propound the theory that creation is an eternal process without beginning or end and so no one knows when the first Karma started.
Atman’s involvement in the cycle of birth and death and its consequent suffering is termed as Samsaara. Mukti or Liberation from the bondage of Samasaara has been presented before it as its goal. This can be achieved by Bhakti or devotion and Jnaana or knowledge which includes Upaasana or Meditation. Scriptures prescribe Karma or Action as aid to this Mukti.
THE SELF IS LIKE SUPREME BUT NOT SUPREME
Sa vaa ayamaatmaa brahma vijnaanamayo manomayah Praanamayh chakshurmayah srotramayah prithivee mayah aapomayahvaayumayah aakaasamayah tejomayah atejo mayah kaamamyah akaamamayah krodhamayah akrodhamayah dharmamayah adharmamayah sarvayah tadyatetad idam mayo adomaya iti yathaakaaree yathaachaaree tathaa bhavatI / Saadhukaaree saadhrbhavati paapakaaree paapo bhavati punyah punyena karmanaa bhavati paapah paapena / atho khalvaahuh kaamamaya evaayam purusha iti / sa yathaakaamo bhavati tatkraturbhavati yatkraturbhavati tatkarma kurute kurute yatkarma kurute tadabhisampadyate
This Self is like the Supreme itself. It is characterized with Knowledge (both its essential nature and as an attribute). It is having the mind as its instrument and is dependent on vital forces (Praana) , dependent on the eye, dependent on the ear, dependent on the earth, it is composed of water, of air, of ether and of fire (the five elements),. It is composed of Mahat (greatness) and Ahankara (ego) that are other than the fire. It is full of Kaama or love and it is full of resolve and faith that are different from Kama (lust). It is full of anger and is full of akrodha or kindness. It is full of Dharma or righteousness and adharama, what is non-righteousness. It is composed indeed of all things and is composed of things in this world and the other world. When it is good and it acts so it becomes. It becomes evil by doing evil. By meritorious Karma (punya) it becomes an object of Punya. One who does sinful deeds becomes a sinner. Some say that this Purusha or self is replete with desires. Whatever desire it has it resolves like that in accordance with that. Whatever it resolves it carries out it in deeds and whatweer deed it performs it attains that.
Aatma Upanishad, Svetasvatara Upanishd and Geetaa consider this Jeevaatman to be an amsa or part of Paramaatman (mamaivaamso Jeevabhootah Sanatanah) called Brahman. Brahman is described in Upanishads as Purusha to be meditated upon in his cosmic divine form to facilitate Upaasana. He is also called Saguna Brahman in its manifested (Vyakta) form to distinguish from Nirguna Brahman in its un-manifested (Avyakta) form Parabrahman. Hindu devotional school has resorted to Saguna Brahman in worshipful form through several thousand of Ishtadevatas as well as elements of nature. Aatman, Sat, Akshara, Aakaasa, Bhooma and Kshetrajna are the other appellations used for Parbrahman. Purusha as described is bright and brilliant, with all parts of his body of golden color and his eyes resembling fully bloomed lotus. Fire is the head, the Sun and Moon are the eyes, the quarters are the ears, the Vedas are the speech and earth is the feet of Parabrahman. Purusha in Purushasookta is also described as having thousand heads, thousand eyes and thousand feet, thereby implying Purusha’s omnipresent form encompassing all the five elements. Brahman is thus called Aupanishadic Purusha described as Viraat Purusha in Bhagavadgeetaa. Parabrahman is the basic cause of the universe and the cause of all causes. Parabrahman is greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest and is also the inner Self of all. The world rises out of Parabrahman, is sustained by Parabrahman and merges back in Parabrahman. Parabrhaman is beyond all wants and limitations. Parabrahman is the Lord as well as the substratum of the whole creation. Parabrahman hears, sees and knows all though none can see or hear or know Parabrahman. Parabrahman is neither male nor female. Parabrahman is indescribable. Parabrahman is the very personification of all the great virtues to their perfection. It is Parabrahman that ultimately responds to all the prayers of votaries and grants them whatever they seek. The three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) emanate from Parabrahman. Parabrahman is infinite and invisible. Though all the galaxies emerge from Parabrahman, Parabrahman is without form and unconditioned. Parabrahman is beyond all duality, beyond the reach of thinker and of thought. Parabbrahman is the ultimate goal of all and final destination of all Jeevaatmas.
Vedanta sutra3-3-16 says: “By the term “Atman” “Paramaatman’’ alone is denoted as in other places and on account of the subsequent passage which runs as, “He desired may I have many”. But Taittareeya Upanishad started referring to Atman as Brahman based on Vedantasutra: “Atmagriheetir-itaravaduttaram”
Vishishtaadvaita philosophy makes a fine difference between Paramaatman and Jeevaatman drawing its support from Bhagavad Gita and Svetasvataara Upanishad. Ramanuja quotes profusely from Shvetesvataara Upanisahd to establish difference between Paramaatman and Jeevaatman. It is surprising he did not mention about Aaatma Upanishad. Terms like “Saranam Prapadye”, “Nyaasa” and “parabhakti” imply the nature of attainment of Mukti (mukti-upaaya) as “Bhakti” and “Prapatti”. Ramanuja urges all to resort to Prayaschittaa (Expiation), Dhyaana (meditation) and Nyassa (total surrender to Parabrahman) as described in Mahanarayana Upanishad as the means for salvation. Bhagavata Purana11.11.06 says: Two birds-–living entity (Jeevaatma) and the divine controller (Paramaatma)—live in the inner psyche of body tree. Jeevaatma being attached to material Nature(Prakriti), enjoys pains and pleasures, and becomes subject to bondage and liberation whereas Paramaaatman being not attached to Prakriti, remains free as a witness and guide,(see also Rigveda 1.164.20: Atharva Veda 9.09.20; Mundaka Upanishad 3.01.01; Shvetasvataara 4.06)
Ramanuja drew everybody’s attention to Bhagavad Gita’s sloka 15-7 in which Lord said “Mamaivaamso jeevaloke Jeevabhootah Sanaatanah”—The Jeevaatman appearing as an individual in the world is My (Pramaatman’s) own minute eternal particle. He significantly pointed out that our essential relationship is not with the body-world, rather, as the Jevaatman being a part of the Lord, our essential relationship is with the Lord alone. He therefore further drew the attention of all to the parting advice of the Lord in Chapter 18, “sarvadharmaan parityajya maamekam saranm vraja”—setting aside all other paths of Dhrama surrender to Paramaatman alone. Ekam here refers to Tadekam; Na adviteeyam. Lord also gave the divine assurance that he shall protect such a person endowed with Jeevaatman, seeking Saranaagati (total submission).
Sankara said 1) Undifferentiated Brahman (Nirvisesha Brahman) is real; 2) Jeevaatman is identical with Parabrahman and 3) Jagat (world) is unreal (maya or illusory). Ramanuja on the other hand said, Parabrahman is endowed with attributes (Savisesha Brahman) and it is the only reality as organically related to both the sentient souls (chit) and the non-sentient matter (achit) both of which are very real. Contradicting Sankara, Ramanuja established that Brahmasootra advocates Savisesha Brahman and that Jeevaatman is different from Parabrahman and is real as much as the universe (jagat) is real. The oneness of Savisesha Brahman with all auspiciousness and organically related to the Jeeva and the universe are the center tenets of his Sri Bhashya.
During Adi Sankaracharya’s whirl-wind tour of India, while he debated the scholars of Vedanta he reached the holy city of Varanasi. He offered obeisance to Lord Siva at the Vishwanaatha Temple and prayed thus: “I am of the firm belief in the teaching of the scriptures that the one and the same Aaatma (Self) is imminent in all beings and there is no difference between the so called Jeevaatmaa (the Individual Soul) and Paramaatma (Supreme Soul). While I have been proclaiming this Truth in all my discourses, I have now come to stand before you as if we two are separate and different from each other. This is a serious lapse on my part. Hence I pray that I may be absolved of the sin, of which I am guilty”. He also confessed that he described Paramaatman through several hymns composed by him though he knew God is beyond mind and speech. This again he felt was a serious lapse on his part. Though he silenced the Nastikavada of atheists and the Nehalists of Buddhism who threatened Hinduism at that time with his dominating philosophy of Advaita that the same Self is within all of us, his mind was not shut from further inquiry. But unfortunately he did not live long. It was left to Ramanuja to come out with his philosophy of Vishishtaadvaita to find answers to some of the doubts that bothered Sankara towards his end.
Mahanarayana Upanishad includes three separate mantras under Virajaa homamantras showing their individuality: Aatma may sudhyataam jyotiraham virajaa vipaapma bhooyaassag swaahaa; Antaraatmaa……………..swaahaa and Paramaatmaa…………. Swaahaa || Aatma Upanishad also similarly speaks of Antaraatmaa and Paramaatmaa as you see below.
Ultimate reality is Vishnu as absolute Consciousness; under illumined teacher’s guidance they become united with the Lord of Love called Vishnu who is present everywhere says Tejobindu Upanishad. The Divines won these worlds for themselves free from fear of enemies praying to Vishnu, their Chief and look up to the abode of Vishnu all the time says Veda mantras--(tad Vishnoh paramampadam)
Chhandogya Upanishad says Krishna, son of Devaki was a disciple of the sage Ghora Angirasa. The reference to Krishna in this Upanishad is as follows: Taddaitat Ghora Aangirasah Krishnaaya Devakeeputrayoktyovacha, apipaasa eva sa babhoova so antavelayaametat-trayam pratipadyeta akshitamasi achyutamasi praansa(m)sitamasi iti || The Seer Ghora-Angirasa performed this Purusha Yajnya with dedication on behalf of Krishna, the son of Devaki. That Ghora-Angirasa had not thirst, as he came upon Brahmavidya through this. At the last moment of his life he said to Brahman “You are eternal, You are full of auspicious qualities and You are subtle truth enlivening the Universe. It is obvious that Ghora Angirasa practiced this Vidya and taught this to Krishna son of Devaki.
Bhagavata purana in 10.70 records that Krishna sat up every morning for meditation merging himself with transcendental self. Again Mahabharata Shanti Parva 53, 2-3 says that Krishna was in the habit of meditating on Brahman in the hours before sun-rise.
Krishna in his human Avatar felt Paramatman is different from the Self in him and so meditated on Paramaatman as his Guru Ghora-Angirasa did.
Rama also felt like Krishna and meditated upon Aditya (Aditya Hridayam) as Parabrahman (referred in several mantras) before the final battle with Ravana.
Famous Upanishadic sentences like “taattvamasi”, “Eitadaatmamida(ga)m sarvam” and “ahamevedam sarvam” give rise to controversial interpretations among different schools of Vedanta Philosophy in this Upanishad. It is interesting to note that in Mahavakyas like “Tattvamasi” both the subject word (tat) and its compliment (tvam) refer to Brahman only though modes of interpretations are different! Etadaatmyam idam sarvam (eaasavaasyam-idam sarvam as in Isavasya) expounds that the one Paramaatman is the Aatman or inner-self in all entities. This fact of His being antaryamin in all sentient and non-sentient entities that are real and different from Him, is the essence of the teaching of all Upanishads.
Ramanuja saya Bhuma (Paramaatman) in Chandogya Upanishad is no doubt to be meditated upon as Self. But Bhuma is the Self of our self and our self is the body of that Bhuma. So Paramaatman is the Self of all Jivatmas (Antaryamin of Atman).
Athaangeeraas-trividhah purusho ajayata aatmaa antaraatmaa paramaatmaa cha iti | tvak-charma-maamsa-roma-anghushta-angulyah prishtavamsanakha-gulphodara-naabhi-medhra-katooru-kapola-srotra-brooh-lalaata-baahu-paarsvasiro-aksheeni bhavanti jaayate mriyate ityesha Aaatma||
Purusha manifests itself in three ways: As outer Self, the Inner Self and the Supreme Self. There are the organs – the skin, inner and outer: flesh, hair, the thumb, the fingers, the backbone, the nails, the ankles, the stomach, the navel, the penis, the hip, the thighs, the cheeks, the ears, the brows, the forehead, the hands, the flanks, the head and the eyes; these are born and these die; so they constitute the outer-Self.
Atha-antaraatmaa-naamaprithivy-aapas-tejo-vaayur-aakaasam-ichchaa-dvesha sukhah- duhkah kaama-moha-vikalpaan-aadi-smriti lingodaattaanudaatta--hrisva-deergah-plutah khalita garjita sphutita mudita nritta geeta vaaditra pralaya-vrijrimbhitaadibhih srotaa ghraata rasayitaa netaa kartaa vijnaanaatmaa purushah puraana-nyaaya- meemaamsa-dharma-saastraaneeti sravana-ghraan-aakarshana-karma –viseshanam karoti esha antaraatmaa
I-3 Next this inner self is (indicated by the elements) perceives the outside world made up of earth, water, fire, air, ether, desire, aversion, pleasure, pain, desire, delusion, doubts, etc., and memory, (marked by) the high pitch and accent-less-ness, short, long and pro-late (vowel sounds), the hearer, smeller, taster, leader, agent and self of knowledge vis-à-vis stumbling, shouting, enjoying, dancing, singing and playing on musical instruments. He is the ancient spirit that distinguishes between Nyaya, Mimamsa and the institutes of law and the specific object of listening, smelling and grasping. He is the inner Self.
[It is the victim of likes and dislikes, pleasures and pain, and delusion and doubt. It knows all the subtleties of language; it enjoys music, dance and all the fine arts; it delights in the senses, recalls the past; It reads scriptures and is able to act. This is the mind, the inner-Self or personality.]
Atha paramaatmaa naama yathaakshara upaasaneeyah | sa cha praanaayaama-pratyaahaara-dhaarnaa-dhyaana-samaadhi-yoga-anumaanaatmachintaka-vata-kanikaa vaa syaamaka-tanduloe vaa vaalaagra-sata sahasra-vikalpa-naabhih sa labhyate nopalabhyate na jaayate na mriyate na sushyati na klidyate na dahyate na kampate na bhidyate na cchidyate nirgunah saakshibhootah suddho niravayavaatmaa kevalah sookshmo nirmamo niranjano nirvikaarah sabda-sparsa-roopa-rasa-gandhavivarjito nirvikalpo niraakaankshah sarvavyaapee so-achintyo nirvarnyas-cha punaaty-asuddhaanya –pootaani ||
Next the supreme Self, the imperishable, He is to meditated on with (the help of) the Yogic steps--breath control, withdrawal (of sense organs), fixation (of mind), contemplation and concentration; He is to be inferred by the thinkers on the Self as like unto the seed of the Banyan tree or a grain of millet or a hundredth part of a split hair. (Thus) is He won and not known. He is not born, does not die, does not dry, is not wetted, not burnt, does not tremble, is not split, does not sweat. He is beyond the Gunas (Characteristics), is spectator, is pure, part-less, alone, subtle, owning naught, blemish-less, immutable, devoid of sound, touch, color, taste, smell, is indubitable, non-grasping, omnipresent. He is unthinkable and invisible. He purifies the impure, the unhallowed. He acts not. He is not subject to empirical existence.
The Supreme Self is glorified in scriptures. He can be realized through the path of yoga—Praanaa-yaama, Pratyaahaara, Dhaarana, Dhyaana etc. He is subtler than the banyan seed, subtler than the tiniest grain, even subtler than one hundredth part of a hair. He cannot be grasped or seen. The Supreme Self is neither born nor dies. He cannot be burned, moved, pierced, cut and dried. Supreme Self is beyond all attributes. It is the eternal witness, ever pure, indivisible and uncompounded. It is far beyond the senses and the ego. Conflicts and expectations cease in it. It is Omnipresent and beyond all thinking power. It is without action in the external world, and without action in the internal world also. It is detached from outer as well as inner Self. The Supreme Self purifies the impure is subtler than the banyan seed.
Upanishads, particularly on Svetasvataara and Katha describe the nature of Supreme Principle that do not define through positive assertions of what is Brahman but through the negative attribute, what is not. Thus over and over again, we read Supreme Principle is not this, nor this (neti neti).
The description of Parmatman as the ruler of Jivatman as well they being different from each other is contained in Upanishads and Gita are voluminous. I would like to quote few references from Bhagavad Gita, Svetasvatara Upanishad and Vedants Sutra here. More references are included in an appendix.
As you learn from various verses below from Bhagavad Gita, Paramaatman or Parabrahman is without beginning, said to be neither imperishable nor perishable. Parabrahman pervades everything and abides in it. Parabrahman gives the impression of having qualities of all the senses, yet is without the senses. Though unattached, Parabrahman supports everything. Devoid of qualities, Parabrahman enjoys them nevertheless. Parabrahman is outside as well as within all things, Parabrahman is immovable and yet movable. Parabrahman is far away is still near. Parabrahman is smaller than the smallest and bigger than the biggest……….”
Invulnerability of our real Self is vividly explained in Bhagavad Gita resourcing from various Upanishads particularly Svetaswatara Upanishad and Atma Upanishad.
Detailed description of Jeevaatman and Paramaatman can be found in the following verses of Bhagavad Gita:
Bhoomir aapo analo-vaayuh kham mano buddhir eva cha | ahamkaara iteeyam may bhinnaa prakitir ashtathaa || 7- 4 ||
Apareyam itastvanyaam prakritim viddhi may paraam || jeevabhootaam mahaabaaho yayedam dhaaryate jagat || 7-5 ||
Bhagawaan on Paramaatma says in Gita: Earth, water, fire air, ether, mind, intellect and egoism-these make my Prakriti (Nature) divided into eight categories. This is my lower Prakriti of material nature. Different from these know that higher Prakriti of mine in the form of the individual soul (Jeevaatma) by which this world is sustained. [The eight-fold Prakriti is called lower energy of material nature (apaara Sakti, jada prakriti). It creates the material world. The other Prakriti is higher spiritual energy (Paraa Sakti, chetana Prakriti or spirit). This is referred as Consciousness, Aaatma, Self, Akshara, Purusha and Chetana. This is commonly called Purusha or Spiritual Being. Prakriti born out of Purusha is mutable. Purusha observes, witnesses as well as supervises Prakriti. Paramaatman is the combination of Apara and Paraa Saktis. Paramaatman is the silent observer (Nirguna Brahman) and functions through Saguna Brahman.]
Etad yoneeni bhootaani sarvaaneety-upadhaaraya | aham kritsnstya jagatah prabhavah pralayas-tathaa ||7-06 ||
Know that all creatures evolve from this twofold energy and I (the Parabrahman) am the source of origin as well as dissolution of the entire universe. [Jeevaatman is microcosmic role has the same characteristics as Paramaatman in macrocosmic role. Paramaatman alone is responsible for creation and dissolution at macrocosmic level.]
Ye chaiva saattvikaa bhaavaa raajasaa taamasaascha yae | Matta eveti taan viddhi na tvaham teshu te mayi || 7-12 ||
All those Saatvika (serene), Raajasika (active) and Taamasika (passive) states that are three—know them to be born of me alone (says Bhagawaan). I am not dependent on, or affected by the Gunas, but the Gunas or dependent on me (Paramaatman).
Upadrashtaanumantaa cha bhartaa bhoktaa mahesvarah | paramaatmeti chapy-ukto dehe asmin purushah parah || 13 -22 ||
The Supreme Being Paramaatman in the body is also called the On-looker, the Guide, the Nourisher, the Protector, the great lord and also the Supreme Self.
[Bhagavata Puraana 11.11.06 says: Two birds—living entity (jeevaatman) and the divine controller (Paramaatman) live in the inner psyche of the body tree. Jeevaatma being attached to material Nature (Prakriti) enjoys pleasures and suffers pains, and subjected to bondage and liberation. Whereas Paramaatman being unattached to Prakriti, remains free as a witness guide. The same views are expressed in Rig and Atharva Vedas and Mundaka and Svtetasvataara Upanishads]
Mamaivamso jeevaloke jeevabhootah sanaatanah | manah shahthaan indriyaani prakritisthaani karshati ||
In the world of living beings, a tiny part of the Supreme Spirit (Paramaatman) becomes the soul (jeevaatman), eternal in nature and drawing to itself the six sense-faculties including mind, all of which abide in Nature (Prakriti).
[The Aatman behaving as an individual in this world is an eternal part of Paramaatman alone. Significant point here is that our essential relationship is not with body-world; rather as the individual-self being a part of the Lord, our essential relationship is with the Lord alone. That is why Ramanuja moving away from Advaita philosophy propagated Saranagati drawing reference to the last sloka in the 18th Chapter of Geeta Sarvadharmaan Parityajya Maamekam Saranamvraja— Giving up all other modes of Dharma contemplate on complete subservience to Paramaatman alone.]
Though not included in ten Principal Upanishads both Sankara and Ramanuja have referred to Svetasvataara Upanishad in their Bhashya under Sootra 1-4-8 and 3-2-35. As seen above, Aaatma Upanishad and Bhagavad Gita bear the influence of Svetesvataara Upanishad. This Upanishad distinguishes the Jeevaaatman from the Paramaaatman very clearly any number of times though Bhagavadgeetaa makes such distinction on few occasions. The Supreme Principle is to be known as dwelling in the Jeevaatman as his antaryamin or innerself. The inherent auspicious qualities and glories of Easwara expounded in this Upanishad as well as Aaatma Upanishad have strongly influenced Bhagavad Gita. This Upanishad describes the accessories of Yoga as well as the practice of it which is stressed in Gita at several places. Aatma Uapanishad also mentions Yoga as an effective tool for meditation and liberation.
This Upanishad expounds the unique nature of Parmaatman. The Jeevaatman and Paramaatman are described as two birds of similar qualities perching on the same tree. Of these one, Jeevaatman tastes the sweet pippala fruit or the fruit of Karma whereas the other one is witnessing without eating. This Upanishad also focusses on the difference in the true nature of Paramaatman and Jeevaatman. This Upanishad declares that the will of Pramaatman is ever glorious, being the cause of this Universe. It is declared that the one Lord is in all as their inner-self and without knowing him there cannot be the cessation of samsaara (worldly pains and pleasures).
Tamekanemim trivritam shodasaantam sataadheeram vimsati-pratyaraabhih | Ashtakaih shadbhih visvaroopaikapaasam trimaargabj hedam dwinimittaikamoham || (1-4)
They realized Paramaatman to be of a form of the wheel, having one rim, having three constituents having sixteen ends, having fifty spokes, having twenty middle spokes, having six groups of eight each, having one bond of the cosmic form, having the difference of three paths, and having the illusion of cause of two.
[Fifty spokes are fifty letters of Sanskrit. 20 middle spokes are 12 months + five seasons + the two solicits (Ayanas) + one Samvatsara. The six groups of eight are: eight kinds of wealth, eight directions; eight guardians of directions; eight kinds of Nature; eight kinds of gods and the eight characteristics. All are withdrawn into Brahman alone. In this wheel of Brahman is the Jeevaatman moving round and round migrating from birth to birth.]
In an issue of Brahmavidya, the journal of the Adayar Library Siddhart Kak states emphatically that the description of Sri Chankra is identical to the Brahmachakra .
In Srichakra the nine triangles together are interlaced in such a way as to form 43 smaller triangles in a web symbolic of the entire cosmos or a womb symbolic of creation. Together they express Advaita or non-duality. This is surrounded by a lotus of eight petals, a lotus of sixteen petals, and an earth square resembling a temple with four doors. Thus the line configuration of Brahmachakra are viewed as triangular configuration in Srichakra.
Sarvaajeeve sarvasamsthe brihante tasmin hamso bhraamyate brahma chakre | Prithaagaatmaanam preritaaram cha matva jushtastatastenaamritatvameti || (1_6)
In the wheel of Brahman, which is great, which makes all beings live and in which all are placed at the time of dissolution does this Jeevaatman migrate. Knowing that prompter and knowing himself also different from Him and becoming an object of love of that Parmaatman on account of that he attains immortality.
[Jeevaatman is migrating in this wheel of Brahman (Paramaatman) moving round and round migrating from birth to birth. The real difference between Jeevaaatman and Paramaatman is mentioned here.]
Dwaa suparnaa sayujaa sakhaayaa samaanam vriksham parishasvajaate | tayoranyah pippalam svadvatti anasnannaayo abhichaakaseeti || 4-6 ||
Two birds of similar qualities which are inseparable from each other are perched on the same tree. Of the two, one tastes the sweet Pippala fruit and the other is witnessing without eating.
[This mantra conveys the distinction between Jeevaatman and Paramaatman. Though both of them have natural relationship Jeevaatman has the instinct to enjoy whereas Paramaatman has no such instinct or need. Pippalam means the result of Karma. The other one which is not eating the fruit is not subjected to Karma but is glorious on account of the fact it being opposed to all that is defiling. The tree is verily the body. Though Paramaatman and Jeevaatmqan are in the body one is subjected to experience the result of the Karma whereas the other, the Paramaatman is not subjected to any such experience as It is beyond Karma. It also implies since both are in the same body, while Jeeevaatman is innerself of the living being Paramaatman is the inner-self of Jeevaatmans.]
Samaane vrikshe purusho nimagnah aneesayaa sochati muhyamaanaah | Jushtam yadaa pasyantyanyameesam asya mahimaanamiti veetasokah || (4-7)
Being deluded by Prakriti, the Purusha grieves as he is immersed in the very same tree, when he sees the Lord who is distinct from him, and who is pleased and when he sees this entire world as the glory of that Lord, he becomes free from grief.
[This jeeva considers the body itself as the Aatman and as though immersing in mire suffers the sorrows caused on account of the contact with matter. Jeevaatman becomes freed from sorrow when he realizes the Paramaatman as distinct from himself and the Universe as His glory, and when Paramaatman is pleased with his action of worship.]
Ramanuja has drawn support profusely from Vedanta Sutra of Vedavyasa to boldly declare that Paramatman is even the inner controller of Jivatman while Jivatman is the Self in all beings. Here are few Mantras from Vedanta Sutra:
Taddhetuoyapadesaaccha (1-1-15); Maantravarnikameva cha geeyate (1-1-16)
As Paramaatman is declared to be the cause of the joy of Jivatman, the Anandamaya is Paramaatman. And because that Paramaatman which is referred to in the Mantra, is declared to be the Ananndamaya (Therefore Ananandamaya is different from Jivatman).
“Sarvatra prasiddhopadesaat” (1-2-1)
In the text “Sarvam kalvidam Brahma”, the term Brahma signifies Paramaatman. Because everywhere it is taught as well-known as the cause of origination, sustenance and destruction of the universe.
“Karmakartruvyapadesaaccha” (1-2-4); “smritescha”
The term Brahma here does not signify the Jivatman because there is a separate denotation of the object to be attained—(Karma) & the attainder (Karta); and on the account of the authority of the Smriti or secondary text, the one that is signified by the term Brahman is not Jivatman.
“Guham-pravishtavaatmanau hi taddrsaanaat” (1-2-11)
The two that have entered into the cave, are two Atmans (Jivatman and Paramaatman) on account of this being seen.
“Dyubhvaadyaayatanam svcasabdaat” (1-3-1)
He, who is the abode of heaven, earth and others is the Supreme Brahman on account of the terms which are unique to Paramaatman alone.
On account of the declaration of differences between Paramaatman and Jivatman in the states of deep sleep and departing from the body, the Paramaatman is different from the Jivatman.
“Asmaadivaccha tadanupapattih” (2-1-23)
And as stones and others cannot become one with Paramaatman, similarly, becoming one with Paramaatman is impossible for Jivatman.
As the terms of the mantra declare like that, the Jivatman is an amsa or part of Paramaatman.
“Jagadvyaapaaravarjam prakaranaadasnnihitaavaaccha” (4-4-170
The liberate Atman attains glory similar to Paramaatman except in the matter of activity relating to the creation and others of the world; Because the context related to the activity of creation and others of the universe belongs to the Lord and also because the liberated Atman is not associated with that context.
Summing up Ramanuja propagated Vishishtaadvaita (Qualified Monism) Philosophy, that God (Paramaatman) is only One (Devo Ekah), but soul (Self or Atman)and Maayaa (the cloud) are the two eternal affiliates of Absolute and Supreme God. Maayaa is lifeless power having the three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Souls are infinitesimal and unlimited. God is the soul of all souls. Soul (Chit) is eternally under the veil of Maayaa called Karma. Sareera (body) is destroyed only by the will of God and not by any amount of yogic practice, austerity, yaagas (sacrifices) or any other religious or spiritual practice. Soul is an eternal servant of God. Soul becomes happy and blissful only when it meets its Divine beloved God in His divine personal form. There is no other way.
Ramanuja was of the strong view that the purport of the Vedas and Vedanta is the attainment of liberation through Dhyaana (meditation), Upaasana (worship) and Bhakti (devotion). Ramanuja advised his organization of disciples to release and propagate the three great secret Mantras;
1) Om Namoh Naaraayanaaya
2) Sriman Naaraayana charanam saranam prapadye
3) Sarva dharmaan parityajya maamekam saranam vraja | Aham tvaam sarva paapebhyo mokshayishyaami maa suchah (18-66)
[I invoke the Supreme Naaraayana to take refuge at His feet leaving all other forms of Dharma (duties) and He will save me from all sins.]
[International Gita Society translates as: Set aside all meritorious and religious rituals, and just surrender completely to My will with firm faith and loving devotion I shall liberate you from all sin, the bond of Karma. Do not grieve.]
In the Gita sloka “Sarvadharman parityajya” every author has tried to translate “dharma” but have ignored not to go deep on “Mamekam” and “Mokshyishyami”.
At the time Bhagavad Gita was presented to the world in Sanskrit language people did not understand what religion is. They worshiped a number of deities for getting their various desires fulfilled instead of focusing on Bhagawan or Paramamtman as is evident from sloka 7-23 below. But out of his generosity Paramaatman goes out of the way in fulfilling those desires as expressed in 7-22. It is futile on the part of individuals go to devatas and upadevatas instead of Deva and also asking for small favors instead of seeking Mukti or liberation. Paramaatman knows what is best for us and grants those to us without asking as we understand from Veda Mantra Viswaani deva savitar duritaaani paraasuva / yad bhadram tanma asuva // So His advice is “Mamekam” Saranam Vraja” --seek refuge in Me alone. Here again why refuge? We in our struggle do not know how to download all our desires and sins. When we take refuge in him He will help us in the process. Here again as you see in in sloka 18-66 Paramatman does not make any false promise nor says he will get rid of you of all karmas. He only says in “Mokshyishyami” that he will help us in Moksha and not Mukti. Moksha in Sanskrit consists of two words Moha+Kshaya=Moksha. That is getting rid of all Maya or desires. Once you are free from desires getting rid of sins becomes an easy and sure task. So He says” Sarvapaapebhyo Mokshayiksaami”. Lord Buddha after his revelation said “the world is full of miseries. That is all due to desire”. So one should get rid of all desires first.
It is very clear the world did not have any religion at the time Gita was delivered to the world. So Dharma in sloka 18-66 can at best be translated today as meritorious and religious rituals as translated by the International Gita society. Then we can be clear as to what Bhagawan wants to convey by this sloka. Bhargava dictionary translates Religion as Dharma or Easwara Bhakti. In English language Religion comes from the base religio=reverence. Originally it was meant, the service and worship of God where GOD stands for G=Generator; O=operator; and D=Dissolver that is Paramatman. Later dictionary added the meaning Religion=institutionalized system of religious attitude. Thus they started building walled mode of worship or religious walls. Bhargava dictionary translates Religion as Dhama or Iswarabhakti. So it is not wrong to translate Sarvadharmaan as leaving all religions and traditions in the context of Devo Ekah.
It is interesting to note Sankara started these sectarian walls as “ Shanmata Sthapaka” but towards the end of his life in Bhaja Govindam went with the concept of “Devo Ekah” that is Vishnu. It is not that he turned a Vaishnavite here or Ramanuja promoted a Vaishnava God only. It is logical and practical to focus in our Samasara on sustenance aspect of Saguna Brahman that is Vishnu. Saguna (manifest) Brahman in his role of Brahma as creator has already done his job and pushed us to Samsara and rightly we do not worship him in Temples. We are handed over to Siva the dissolution aspect of Saguna Brahman who has to evaluate our performance either to hand over to Brahma again or push us up to be integral part of Brahman. This aspect is also not in our hands. Therefore our main focus only on Sustenance aspect looks significant. Sankara therefore advised us to focus only on Vishnu and meditate on Him alone in Atma Bodha and Bhaja Govindam his last composition though he held different views before and repented before Lord Viswanatha for his three sins. Ramanuja agreeing with Sankara advised all of us to surrender at the feet of Sriman Narayana in our helpless situation by Prapatrti or Saranagati.
Antavat tu phalam teshaam tad bhavaty-alpa-medhasam | devaan deva-yajo yaanti mad-bhakta yaanti maam api || 7-23
“Men of small intelligence worship the devatas, for their fruits are limited and temporary. Those who worship the devatas go to the planets of the devatas, but my devotees ultimately reach my supreme abode.” says Bhagawan.
Sa Tayaa sraddhayaa yuktastasyaaraadhanam-eehate / Labhate cha tatah kaamanmayaiva vihitaan hi taan // 7-22 //
Endowed with faith, he worships that deity, and from him gets his desires, which are indeed granted by Me alone.
Today our concept of Paramatman and Atman being separate reflects in Temple Traditions. Otherwise we will not be standing before the deity or singing bhajans. In the process we are also made to recognize the existence of divinity in us and connect the same with Paramatman to ultimately get our Self or Jivatman to join and associate and integrate with Paramaatman and not get merged, get absorbed and get dissolved. Otherwise we do not have to go through Bhakti Marga or temples and need only Jnanamarga and sacrifice. Even Sankara realized this standing before Lord Viswanatha in Varanasai and confessing his three sins. We can see the Prayer to Atman and Paramaatman in Moorti upasana. The devotee first performs aatma pooja; that is he meditates on his inner aatman encased in his body. By appropriate mantras he first purifies his body including his praanas and his sense organs. But during Praana pratishths the following prayer is uttered:
Svaatvasamsttham ajam suddham tvaamadhya Paramesvara|
aranyaamaiva havyaasam moortau aavaahayaamyaham||
Oh Lord of the Worlds! You are unborn and pure. You are in my heart. I invoke You in this Moorti. Make Yourself visible to me in my concentration even as the fire in Arni wood comes out by friction. It is clear here prayer is directed to both Aatman and Parammatman. It is made clear here that Paramaatmaan is even the inner controller of Jivatman. Otherwise why these types of two different prayers?
Agnirdevo dwijaateenaam muneenaam hridi daivatam |
pratima svalpabuddheenaam sarvatra viditaatmanaam||
The ritualists have their God in the fire; but the wise folk find Him in their own heart. It is the dull-witted one that seeks God in an icon. Those who have higher understanding see God in everything. The God in the heart is Jivatman or Self or an Amsa of God who is seen in everything by the higher understanding people.
It may not be out of place to mention here that this is what made Ramanuja to decide Venkateswara who is still worshiped as Devi for four days, Vishnu for two days and Siva for one day is to be meditated upon as Vishnu. If there be a God on Earth that is Venkateswara and if there be a paradise on Earth that is Venkatadri or Tirupati! Venkateswara is Skanda that is Sanat Kumara worshiped in all religions, faiths and traditions.
The worship of Vishnu reveals the agreeable and happy aspects of Hinduism. In fact as a religion, in strict sense of the term, HINDUISM can be summarized as VISHNUISM—Louis Renon.
Om tad vishnoh paramam padam sadaa pasyanti surayo diveeva chakshur-aatatam|
tad vipraaso vipanyavo jagrivaa(ga)msaha samindhate vishnor yat paramam padam ||
"Just as the sun's rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu. Because those highly praiseworthy and spiritually awakened scholars are able to see the spiritual world, they are also able to reveal that supreme abode of Lord Vishnu." (Rig Veda 1.22.20)
Paramaatma (Supreme Spirit) says “Sivoham” I am Soonya (0 or Ananta, infinity); “Aham Brahmaasmi”, I am ever expanding; Sarvam Vishnumayam Jagat, the whole universe is pervaded by me. The Jeevaatma (Liberated Self) says: “Veda-aham-etam Purusham mahaantam” I know this great Cosmic Person.
NOTE: In Vedanta different kinds of Intelligence are mentioned --Prjnaanam, vijnaanam, Samjnaanam etc. Generally they are referred by the general term Jnaanam simply. Even Paramatman is simply referred as Atman as these two are very identical in many respects but there is a difference. Paramaatman is SATHYAM and Jivatman is Sat. Self and Paramaatman are often mentioned as Sat-chit-Ananda as it suits both. But Parmaatman is Sathyam, Prajnaanam Amalam Anantham that is Bhuma while Atman is not all that. You may kindly recall the Mahavakya Prajnaanam Brahma. Here Brahma means Brahman and not the Brahma the creator described in Puranas. Prajna consists of two syllables Pra+jna=prajna. Pra=beginning, power, source, origin, completion, perfection, excellence, purity. Jna=wisdom, knowledge of the Supreme, learning, thinking. Prajna =knowing or understanding Brahman. In the human body which is microcosm Prajnaanam is the source of awareness, consciousness or understanding the inner Self, simply referred as Jnaanam. In the Macrocosm Prajnaanam is the Supreme Self.
Brahman referred as SATHYAM consists of three syllables, sath+thi+yam=Sathyam. Sat is the immortal; thi is the mortal; and yam means “by that both these are regulated” thereby meaning Supreme Brahman. Maayaa is Mithyam, opposite of Sathyam
1) Anantha Rangacharya, Principal Upanishads Vol I. Bengaluru, India
2) Ramananda Prasad, Bhagavd Geetaa, AmericanGeetaa Society. Fremont, CA, USA.
3) Swami Ramsukhdas, Discovery of Truth, Gita Press, Gorakhpur, India
4) Krishna Warrior Atma Bodha, Theosophical Publishing House Chennai, India
5) Swami Vireswarananda, Srimad Bhagavadgita, Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, Madras.
6) Chaitanya Bharati, Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America Inc., January –March 2007
7) Ramachandra Rao, Geetaa-kosha, Kalpataru Research Academy, Begaluru, India.
8) Swami Harshananda, The Ten Cardinal Upanishads, Ramakrishna Math Chennai, India.
9) Eknath Easwaran, The Upanishads, Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, CA, USA.
10) Anantha Rangacharya, N.S., Vedanta Suitras, Bengluru, India.
(Additional slokas from Bhagavad Gita and Mantras from Svetasvatara Upanishad on parmatman)
Sarvatah paanipaadam tat sarvatokshi siro mukham |
Sarvatah srutimalloke sarvamaavritya tishthati || (Gita 13.13 & Svet. Up. 3-16)
That has his hands and feet everywhere. That has its eyes, heads and faces everywhere. That has its ears everywhere in the universe.
Sarvendriya gunaabhaasam sarvendriya vivarjitam |
Sarvasya prabhmeesaanaamsarvasya saranam suhrit || (Gita 13.14 & Svet.Up. 3-17)
It is manifest in the functions of the various sense-organs, unattached, yet sustaining everything, without attributes, yet the protector of the qualities.
Sarvabhootaani kaunteya prakritim yaanti maamikaam | Kalpakshaye punastaani kalpaadau visrijyam-aham || 9-4 ||
All beings merge into my (Paramaatman’s) Adi Prakriti (primary material nature) at the end of Kalpa (or a cycle of 4.32 billion years) O Arjuna! I create them again and again at the beginning of the next Kapa.
[It is obvious Jeevaaatman is not involved in this act]
Tapaamy-aham aham varsham nigrihaanmy-upasajaami cha | amritaam chaiva mrityuischa sad asacchahamarjuna || 9-19 ||
I (Paramaatman) give heat. I send as well as withhold the rain. I am immortality as well as death. I am also both the absolute (truth; akshara) and the temporal (asat or Kshara).
[The Supreme Being is everything.]
Divi sooryasahasrasya bhavedyugapadutthitaa | Yadi bhaah sadrisee saa syaad-bhaasas-tasya mahaatmanah || 11-12 ||
If the effulgence of a thousand suns were to appear in the skies simultaneously, it might compare somewhat with the splendor of that great form of Paramaatman.
[Mahaatman is one who is great among Aatmans or Jeevaatmans, that is Paramaatman}
Sarvatah paanipadam tat sarvato-akshi-siro mukaham | sarvatah srutimal –loke sarvam- aavritya tishthati || 13-13 ||
The Supreme Being has his hands, feet, eyes, head, mouth, and ears everywhere, because Brahman is all pervading and omnipresent.
[This verse is from Svetasvataara Upanishad without any change—3.16]
Anaadimat param brahma na sat tan-naasad uchyate || 13-12|| Sarvendriya-gunnaabhaasam sarvendriyavivarjitam | asaktam sarvabric-chaiva nirgunam gunabhoktri cha || 13-14 ||
Paramaatma is said to be neither eternal (Sat), nor temporal (Asat) is manifest in the various sense organs, yet bereft of all sense-organs, unattached, yet sustaining everything, without attributes, yet protector of the qualities. It is devoid of the three modes (Gunas) of material nature, and yet the enjoyer of the Gunas of Prakriti by becoming a living entity Jeevaatman.
[First line of this verse is from Svetasvataara Upanishad without any change—3.17. Paramaatman expands itself as the living entity Jeevaatman to enjoy three modes of material nature]
Bahir antascha bhootaanaam acharam charam-eva cha | sookshmatvaat tad-avijneyam doorastham chaantike cha tat || 13-15 ||
Paramatman is inside as well as outside of all beings, animate and inanimate. Brahman is incomparable because of its subtlety. And because of its omnipresence, it is very near residing in one’s inner psyche as well as far away-in the Supreme abode (Parama Dhaama).
[it will not be wrong to think that while Jeevaatman is the inner-self of all beings Parmaatman is the inner-self of Jeeevaatman itself as it is the eternal part of Paramaaatman (mamaivaamso jeevabhootah sanaatanah) ]
Avibhaktam cha bhooteshu vibhaktam cha sthitam | Bhoota bhartri cha tad-jneyam grasishnu prabhavishnu cha || 13-16 ||
It is undivided in beings and yet it remains as if divided; that Knowledge is the sustainer (Vishnu) of beings as also the destroyer (Siva) and creator (Brahama)
Jyotishaam-api Taj-jyotim tasah param-uchyate | Jnaanam Jneyam jnaanagamyam hridi sarvasya vishthitam || 13-17 ||
Paramaatman, Supreme person is the source of all lights. He is said to be beyond darkness (of ignorance nor Maayaa). Paramaataman is the Self-knowledge, the object of Self-knowledge, and seated inner psyche (or the casual heart of consciousness) of all beings, Brahman is to be realized by Self-knowledge (Bramavidyaa).
Purushah prakritistho hi bhungte prakritijaan gunaan | kaaranam gunasango asya sad-asad-yo ni janmasu || 13-21 ||
Purusha (Spiritual Being) experiences the three modes (Gunas) of material Nature (Prakriti) by associating with Prakriti. Attachment to the Gunas (due to ignorance caused by previous Karama) is the cause of birth of the living Jeevaatma in good and evil wombs.
[Purusha associates with the six sensory facilities and ego of Prakriti and becomes attached, forgets His real nature, performs good and evil deeds, loses independence and transmigrates as a living entity (Jeevaatma)—Bhagavata Puraana 3.27.01—03]
Ya evam vetti purusham prakritim cha gunaih saha | sarvathaa vartamaano -api na sa bhooyo abhijaayate ||
They who truly understand Supreme Being (purusha) and the material nature (Prakriti) with its three modes Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are not born again regardless their ways of life.
Anaaditvaan nirgunatvaat ekastham anupasyati | sareerasthopi Kaunteya na karoti na lipyate || 13-31 ||
Because Paramaatman is devoid of origin and beyond the scope of the constituents of Nature (gunas) it is immutable (unchanging and un-decaying); although abiding in the body (which is a product of Nature) it neither does anything, nor it is defiled (stained by the fruits of such action--Karmaphala).
[The presence of Jeevaatman is experienced only in the body].
Yasmaat ksharam ateeto-aham aksharaad api chottaamah | ato asmi loke vede cha prathitah purushottamah (15-18)
Because the Supreme spirit (Parmaatman) transcends the perishable, and is superior to imperishable (Jeevatman), it is known in Vedic texts as well as in the world as the Superior Person (Purushottama).
Viswatas-chakshuruta Viswatomukho viswato-baahuruta viswatas-paat |
Sam baahubhyaam namati sam patat-traih dyaavaprithavee janayan deva Ekah || 3-3 ||
Parmaatman has his eyes in all places; He has his faces in all directions; e has his arms in all directions; e has feet in all directions. The one Paramaatman creating heaven and earth makes the Jeevaatman associated with arms and feet.
[Parmaatman has a divine auspicious form which is eternal and which has infinite eyes, faces, hands and feet as described for Virat Purusha in Bhagavadgeetaa. He makes the Jeevaatmans endowed with arms and feet.]
Sarvatah Paani paadam tat sarvatokshi-siro-mukham | sarvatahsrutimalloke sarvam-aavritya tishtahti || 3-16 ||
Paramaatman has its hands and feet everywhere. That has its eyes, heads and faces everywhere that has its ears everywhere in this Universe. It stands pervading everything.
[This mantra is just repeated as a verse in Bhagavadgeetaa 13-13]
Sarvendriya gunaabhaasam sarvendriya-vivarjitam |
Sarvasya prabhum-eesaanam sarvasya saranam suhrit || 3-17 ||
[The first line of this mantra is the first line of Geetaa’s verse 13-14]
Paramaatman has luminescence of knowledge caused by all the sense organs. It is also bereft of all indriyas. It is the one that bestows the fruits of worship. It is the controller of all. It is the well-wisher of all and also the object of attainment of all.
Navadwaare pure dehee hamso lelaayate bahih | Vasee sarvasya lokasya sthaavarasya charasya cha || (3-18)
The Jeevaatman who is embodied wanders being deluded in the city of nine gates. But the Lord (paramaatman) of this Universe of both moving and non-moving entities is beyond that Jeevaatman.
[Jeevaatman and Paramaatman are of quite different in natures. The Jeevaatman is identifying itself with the body which is thoroughly different from Paramaatman, which is like a city with nine gates and so migrates from body to body. Hamsa here means the migrating Jeevatman.]
Apaanipaado javano graheetaa pasyatyachakshuh sa srunotyakarnah | sa vetti vedyam na cha tasyaasti vettaa tamaahuragryam purusham mahaantam || 3-19 ||
Without hands or feet Parmaatman is swift in movement and he grasps. He sees without having eyes. He hears without ears, He knows what ought to be known. There is none who is a knower of Him. They say he is the first cause and the great self.
[Even in the absence of feet, hands and others He is capable of doing those functions and he is not fully known by others. He is omniscient and called great soul who is the first cause of this universe. While Purusha is Jeevaatman Mahan Purusha is Paramaatman.]
Maayaam tu prakritim vidyaat maayinam tu maheswaram | tasyaavayavabhootaistu vyaaptam sarvamidam jagat || (4-10)
Prakriti (nature) should be known as Maayaa (illusion). The great Lord is the mover of Maayaa. This entire Universe is pervaded by the Jeevaatmans who are his parts.
[Maheswara is Paramaatman. The Jeevas are called avyavas or amsas (parts) of Paramaatman.]
Na tatra sooryo bhaati na Chandra taarakam nema vidyuto bhaanti kuto ayamagnih | tameva bhaantam-anubhaati sarvam tasya bhaasa sarvamidam vibhaarti || 6-14 ||
The Sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars. The lightning does not shiner either. Wherefrom the fire (Agni) do so? All these shine after Paramaatman the ever shining. All these shine out on account of Paramaatman’s effulgence.
Sa viswakrit viswavidaatmayonih jnyah kaalakaalo gunee sarvavidyah | pradhaana kshetrajnyapatir-gunesah samsara-mokshasthiti –bandhahetuh || 6-16 ||
Paramaatman is sole creator and has gained everything. Paramaatman is the indweller in Jeevaatman. Pramaatman is the omniscient, the ordainer of time, the repository of all auspicious qualities, the promulgator of all kinds of knowledge, master of matter and Jeevaatman, the one who is perfect with six qualities (Bhagavan) of Jnaana and others and the one who is the cause of release from Samsaara, sustenance of samsara and bondage in Samsaara.
[If Kshetrjna is Jeevaatman, Parmaatman is Kshetrajna-pati, master of Kshetrajna. The six gunas are Jnaana (knowledge), Sakti (power), Bala (strength), Aisvarya (wealth), Veerya (valor) and Tejas (effulgence). He is continuously the cause of freedom from the shackles of worldly pains and pleasures (samsara) and its sustenance but cause of its bondage at the time of Pralaya or cataclysm.]
Brief Note on Hindu Concepts of Consciousness
Consciousness has been developed to an incredible degree in the Hindu culture. It is a Science and more than that it is a beautiful way of life to be one with the consciousness of the Cosmos. The statement of the Vedas that Parabrahman desired to transform itself into many, and that Brahman is Awareness, could have led to the discovery that matter is basically energy or awareness. Brahman is Consciousness, prajnaanam Brahma and Sarvam Kalvidam Brhama, All is Brahman alone--say the Upanishads. Einstein in his Theory of Relativity says this Nirguna Brahman Awareness (Nirguna Brahman) is Energy (Saguna Brahman) while defining Matter is nothing but Energy. Thus he joins our group of Brahma Rishis in realizing Brahman in all things and also come to the conclusion Religion and Science can conflate contrary to the orthodox religious thinkers accuse Science is at war with Religion; Similar thinking is also there with Scientists of atheist outlook. Einstein wisely said Religion without science is blind and science without religion is lame.
By Swami Krishnananda, Ramakrishna Math)
Ramanuja accepts as ultimate three kinds of entities, Matter (Achit), Soul (Chit) and God (Iswara). Though equally real, matter and soul depend on God and constitute His body or attributes, the relation being conceived as that between body and soul. Individual souls and matter form the body of God and He is the Soul of souls and matter. God is the central Reality of soul and matter, and neither can exist without Him. They exist in Him and are absolutely inseparable. Thus thesae realities are all ultimate and eternal, each having its own distinctiveness.
It is difficult to find an English equivalent for the Sanskrit term Vishishtadvaita. It is usually translated as “Qualified Non-dualism”. This conception may be illustrated by taking a common example like a mango. Here the color, the taste, the smell, the flesh, the shell and the fiber which constitute the whole fruit can be distinguished as being different from one another. Though each element in the fruit has its own distinctive attributes, the synthetic whole is regarded as mango. What is common to all the different parts of the fruit has its own inseparable existence. Of the various parts which form the mango, we can regard any particular one as the substantive (Vis (Visheshya) and the rest as attributes (Visheshanas). Likewise, if God the chief factor comprehends in Himself matter and the Souls, the Reality may be regarded as advaita, one without a second. God, the substantive factor, directs and predominates over the attributive factors. Though the world of matter and souls have real existences of their own, they are entirely subject to the control of God in all their conditions. Here the “qualified non-dualism” is not a synthesis of the distinctions between the attributive factors and the substantive factor, but that God, who is the Soul of all souls and matter, is one. It is the non-dualism of the qualified whole. By this definition, the identity and difference of matter and souls with God are maintained. By their very nature, the souls and matter are neither identical with God nor with one another. Perhaps it may not be incorrect if we interpret the Vishishtadvaita as signifying that whatever exists is contained within God, and so the system admits no second independent factor. According to Advaita Philosophers identity is primary and difference secondary but according to Ramanuja difference is primary and identity is secondary.
Ramanuja accepts only two categories—Substance (Dravya) and Non-substance or Attribute (Adravya). The non-substance is tenfold: five qualities of Panchabhutas-earth, water, air, fire and ether, three Gunas—Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, Potency (Sakti) and Conjunction (Samyoga). Substance is that which has modes or which undergoes change. God and souls, viewed as the substantive factor, are immutable. The Dravyas, which are divided into classes as Jada (matter) and Ajada (immaterial), are six; The Jada comprehends Nature (Prakriti) and Time (Kala), and the Ajada includes Attributive Consciousness (Dharmabhhootajnaana), Super Nature (Suddhasatva), Soul (Jiva) and God (Iswara). Jada is that which is devoid of pure Sattva.
PRAKRITI: This is the substratum of three Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Prakriti is not independent of Gods, but constitutes His Body as His Mode. The entire universe evolves out of Prakriti under the will of God and is entirely under His control. Prakriti is the seat of soul and, indirectly through it, of God. The relation between them viz.,matter and soul or, Prakriti and its evolutes is Aprithika-siddhi (inseparable relation). The evolutes of prakriti provide appropriate bod8ies to souls according to their Karma.
JIVA: Like Prakriti soul is also is a mode of God. It is entirely dependent upon Him, though distinct from Him. It also constitutes His body, since He is the Soul of all soul and inner- controller (antaryamin). It is of the essence of Consciousness and Bliss. It is not a fabricated complex, but an eternal reality, a Karta (doer) and Bhokta (experiencer). The souls are many and there is no difference among them as far as their essential nature is concerned. The soul is monadic in nature. In natural state its attributive consciousness expands and is able to apprehend everything. But in Samsara, as a result of its past Karma. Its consciousness contracts, though never absent. The contraction of consciousness and bliss is itself Samsara and expansion of the same through constant communion with god is itself Mukti (Liberation). The souls are of three kinds: Those that are ever-free and never experience bondage (Nitya); those that have attained release from transmigration (Mukta); and those that are still in Samasara.
ISWARA: God is the absolute Reality, endowed with all auspicious and excellent attributes that are unsurpassable. He too is of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss, all-powerful, all-pervading and all compassionate. He is the inner ruler of matter as well as souls. God with His souls and matter as His body constitutes an organic unity, sustaining and cionterolling them nfor His purpose. Since God cannot be separated from His modes or attributes. He is determinate and not indeterminate. God possesses two states as cause and effect. In the state of cosmic dissolution (Pralaya), which occurs at the end of a Kalpa , matter ansd saouls exist in a subtle state possessing none of the qualities which make them objects of experience or cognizing subjects. From this subtle state, v creation evolves by the will of God. Subtle matter develops into gross form, souls expand their consciousness, entering into connection with the bodies appropriate to their past Karma. In this gross condition Brahman is said to be in the state of effect. Thus God is the material cause as well as the efficient cause of the universe. This change of body from subtle to gross state does not affect the nature of Go, because it is G His body that undergoes modification, while as the soul of the cosmic body, He remains unchanged. Thus the self-determining Iswara is the Absolute of Ramanuja.
In Panchratra theology of Ramanuja God manifests Himself in the five forms. The first is the Highest (Para). In which Parabrahman or Narayana, He dwells in the domain of Nitya-vibhuti. The second form of manifestation is known as Vyuha which is four-fold: Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, these being forms assumed for the purpose of worship by the devotees, instruction, creation etc. The third is Vaibhava in which the Supreme manifests Himself in Avataaras. The fourth manifestation is Antaryamin, in which he dwells in the heart of all embodied beings as their benefactor. The last is called Archa in which the deity dwells in consecrated images. In all these manifestations the chief purpose is to help the erring souls, by His unsurpassable love and compassion.
The world of physical objects exists independent of consciousness, and the subject, or self-conscious Atman is different from the object. The real subject of every judgment is different from the Supreme Being who is the indweller and inner-self of all things. He is the ultimate knower. Brahman is the knower in us as our inner-self, and is the ground of all knowable in the ultimate analysis. Brahman is Prajnaanam or Supreme consciousness. Prajna consists of two syllables Pra+jna=prajna. Pra=beginning, power, source, origin, completion, perfectness, excellence, purity. Jna=wisdom, knowledge of the Supreme, learning, thinking. In the Macrocosm Prajnaanam is the Supreme Self.
Atman is substantive (Dharmajnaanam) and attributive consciousness (Dharmbhutajnaanam) as well. This attributive consciousness is Svaymprakasa (self-illuminous) and has the characteristic of illumining objects. It is not self-realized like the Atman. It is like physical light which can only “show but cannot know”. This attributive consciousness is eternally pervasive to the Nityas and Muktas as well, as the Supreme Being. But for others, during the phenomenal state of Samsara, it is subject to contraction due to Karma. It is eternal but contracts and expands like substance due to Karma, so is a substance also. It is both Dravya and Guna. The Atman is of the essential nature of consciousness, qualified by attributive consciousness. Substantive consciousness is self-realized whereas the attributive consciousness reveals itself as well as other objects. The substantive consciousness is ever effulgent, and is unaffected by any transformation. But the attributive consciousness is subject to contraction during the state of Samasara, owing to the impact of Karma. The attributive consciousness is both an attribute and a substance. Pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, and effort are all different aspects of Dharmabhootajnaanam, and are implied in it. The attributive consciousness regains its original state of purity and all-pervasive nature during the state of liberation.
Bhakti, according to Ramanuja is not mere devout meditation but a loving contemplation of God. It is continuous process of meditation till the final goal is achieved. The ever-growing continuous meditation till promoted by subsidiary means, including discrimination (Viveka), mental detachment (vimoha), practice of meditation (Abhyasa), performance of the five great sacrifices (Kriya), practice of such virtues as truth, non-violence etc., Kalyana (well-being), and cheerfulness. Thus promoted, the meditation becomes so perfecta to result in a vivid perception of the Supreme. The final intuition of the Supreme is not at all a means, but an end itself. The final liberation, which results only after physical dissolution is constant communion with God which is the consummation of Karma, Jnaana and Bhakti.
[Advaita says the Self (Jivaatma) merges, gets absorbed, and gets dissolved in Paramaatman. According to Sri Bhashyam what happens is that Jeevatman joins and associates and integrates with the Paramatman. It still exists as an entity but united with him inseparably and indistinguishably.]
Prapatti—Prapatti, on the other hand, is absolute self-surrender to the supreme involving complete conformity, avoidance of opposition, the confidence of protection, the choosing of the Divine as the savior, and surrender of one’s self to God in all meekness. This implies complete surrender of “I” and “mine’ to God. This sincere and complete transfer of spiritual responsibility to the Supreme liberates an aspirant at once from human efforts and foibles and creates the condition for the flow of the divine grace. When one sacrifices his ego at the altar of the Supreme, The Lord Himself steps forward to receive him. Prapatti is usually prescribed as the direct means for those who feel incompetent in the classical pathway of meditative Bhakti and too impatient to wait for the perfection of Bhakti. It may be noted here that Bhakti and Prapatti are not antagonistic to each other as some people think. In Bhakti there is always an element of surrender and surrender involves an aspect of Bhakti. The predominance of one or the other element in spiritual practice determines whether the path of Bhakti or Prapatti.