Meenakshi Abbaraju, Thursday, January 28, 2016 3:42 pm

Aparokshanubhuti – (Part 17)

सर्वं ब्रह्मेति विज्ञानादिन्द्रियग्रामसंयम:।

यमोSयमिति संप्रोक्तोSभ्यसनीयो मुहुर्मुहु: ।।—-१०४

Sarvam brahmeti vij~nAnAdindriyagrAmasamyama

yamaH ayam iti samproktaH abhyasanIyaH muhurmuhuH —104

 सर्वं ब्रह्मेति विज्ञानात्   = by the understanding that ‘All is Brahman’;इन्द्रियग्रामसंयम: = the withdrawal of the group of sense organs; यमोSयमिति संप्रोक्त:  = this is called yama; अभ्यसनीय: मुहुर्मुहु: = should be practiced repeatedly.

The withdrawal of the group of sense organs by the understanding that All is Brahman is called yama. This should be practiced repeatedly.

The traditional meaning of yama according to Patanjali Yoga sutras is withdrawal or giving up. There a group of 5 things that yama consists of which are in the form of avoiding something. The five are as follows – 1) Ahimsa – non-violence 2) सत्यं satyam – giving up speaking untruth 3) अस्तेयं asteyam – non stealing 4) ब्रह्मचर्य brahmacharya – avoidance of illegitimate relations 5) अपरिग्रह: aparigraha – refrainment from amassing wealth.

These are the rules for a beginner. Once a person has advanced in his inquiry and understanding, he needs to look at yama differently. All these rules have already become natural to him. The new way to look at it is, the withdrawal of sense organs from the worldly interactions by constant remembrance of the fact that all is brahman. This does not mean one has to stop the work at hand. It only means one is more aware of the truth in spite of worldly conditions.

Once we remind ourselves of the higher truth the issue of unnecessary indulgence in sense pursuit does not arise. There is no withdrawal per say. There is remembrance of the higher and consequent distaste for futile undertakings.


सजातीयप्रवाहश्च विजातीयतिरस्कृति: ।

नियमो हि परानन्दो नियमातक्रियते बुधै: ।।—-१०५

sajAtIya pravAhashcha vijAtIyatiraskRitiH

niyamaH hi parAnandaH niyamAtkriyate budhaiH—105

 नियम: हि सजातीय प्रवाहश्च विजातीयतिरस्कृति: = niyama is continuous flow of similar thoughts and rejection of dissimilar thoughts; (नियम: ) परानन्द: = this is blissful; नियमात् बुधै: क्रियते = this is regularly practiced by the wise.

The continuous flow of similar thoughts by rejection of dissimilar ones is called niyama. This is blissful and is regularly practiced by wise.

niyama again, traditionally, has 5 steps practiced by beginners which are of the form of do’s. These 5 include 1)शौच: shoucha– purity 2) सन्तोष: santoshaH – contentment 3) तपस् tapas – austerity 4)स्वाध्याय: svadhyAyaH – self-study etc. 5) ईश्वरप्रणिधानं Ishvara praNidhAnam – surrender to Lord.

For the sake of advanced students Shankara has given a new definition to niyama. By rejecting any dissimilar thought and constant remembrance of the truth what one practices is niyama. The constant flow of similar thought patterns, which, point to the higher truth, are maintained. As a result, the unnecessary thought patterns are dropped off.

The unbroken chain of meditative thoughts is sustained. This operates as a bulwark against the materialistic thoughts, which have the potency to deteriorate the quality of the mind, one malignant thought a time.

तयाग: प्रपञ्चरूपस्य चिदात्मत्वावलोकनात् ।

त्यागो हि महतां पूज्य: सद्यो मोक्षमयो यत: ।।—-१०६

tyAgaH prapa~ncharUpasya chidAtmatvAvalokanAt

tyAgaH hi mahatAm pUjyaH sadyaH mokShamayaH yataH—106

तयाग: प्रपञ्चरूपस्य = rejection of unreal world;  चिदात्मत्वावलोकनात् = understanding higher nature of consciousness; त्यागो हि महतां पूज्य: = renunciation is revered by sages; सद्यो मोक्षमयो यत: = since it gives liberation quickly

Rejection of the unreal world by understanding the higher nature of consciousness is renunciation. Renunciation is revered by the sages, since it quickly gives liberation.

Renunciation is not just external. Real renunciation is that which comes out of understanding the higher. The lower naturally is discarded when the higher is appreciated. The abidance in the higher and the successive indifference for the worldly pleasures is real renunciation. This must be practiced by advanced students. Merely renouncing frivolously would only be an outward show.

The next three verses give three different definitions of munam.


यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्य मनसा सह ।

यन्मौनं योगिभिर्गम्यं तद्भजेत्सर्वदा बुध: ।।—-१०७

yataH vachaH nivartante aprApya manasA saha

yanmaunam yogibhirgamyam tadbhajetsarvadA budhaH—107

यतो वाचो निवर्तन्ते अप्राप्य मनसा सह  – that from which speech and mind return without objectifying it;

यन्मौनं योगिभिर्गम्यं = that silence which is gained by the knowledgeable; तद्भजेत्सर्वदा बुध: = the wise one should constantly be in that silence

That from which speech and mind return without objectifying it, that silence which is gained by the knowledgeable, the wise one should constantly be in that silence.

Here, maunam is given the definition of brahman. The traditional meaning of ‘verbal silence’ is not the meaning here.

The first line of the verse quotes a taittirIya upanishad statement. It states that, that from which speech and brahman return without objectification is brahman. It is not possible either for words or thoughts to bring Brahman in their confines. Speech can define it not, describe it not; thoughts can comprehend it not, conceptualize it not. The very subject is brahman and can never become the object.

Brahman, is called maunam in this verse. This maunam, i.e.. brahman is attained by the wise people. The advanced seeker should always be in this silence. Constant abidance is maunam.


वाचो यस्मान्निवर्तन्ते तद्वक्तुं केन शक्यते ।

प्रपञ्चो यदि वक्तव्य: सोSपि शब्दविवर्जित:।।—-१०८

इति वा तद्भवेन्मौनं सतां सहज संज्ञितम् ।

गिरा मौनं तु बालानां प्रयुक्तं ब्रह्मवादिभि: ।।—-१०९

vAchaH yasmAnnivartante tadvaktum kena shakyate

prapa~nchaH yadi vaktavyaH saH api shabdavivarjitaH

iti vA tadbhavenmaunam satAm sahaja sa~njitam

girA maunam tu bAlAnAm prayuktam brahmavAdibhiH

वाचो यस्मान्निवर्तन्ते = words return from that; तद्वक्तुं केन शक्यते = who can describe that (AtmA)?

प्रपञ्चो यदि वक्तव्य: = if the creation has to be described; सोSपि शब्दविवर्जित: = that also is indescribable by words;इति वा तद्भवेन्मौनं सतां सहज संज्ञितम् = this is another meaning of maunam which is natural to al wise people;

गिरा मौनं = verbal silence (noiselessness);  तु = on the other hand; बालानां = is for beginners; प्रयुक्तं ब्रह्मवादिभि: = prescribed by teachers

Who can describe AtmA from which words return (without describing)? Even the creation is indescribable by words. This (understanding of the limitation of words to describe AtmA) is another meaning of maunam, which is natural to all wise people.

Verbal silence (noiseless-ness), on the other hand is for beginners prescribed by the teachers.

In verse 107 we saw the definition of maunam as brahman itself. This is the first definition.

In verse 108 combined with the first line of verse 109, maunam is described as the ‘understanding of the limitation of words in describing AtmA'. This ‘indescribability of brahman though words’ is maunam. This, is the second definition.

In the second line of verse 109, the third definition of maunam is given which is ‘verbal silence’. This is the traditional definition. The absence of sound, the state of noiselessness is silence.

Explanation of the second definition:

Creation itself cannot be described in words. Scientists talk about the Uncertainity principle. With its variety and multiplicity, nothing can be said certainly about the universe, seen and unseen. Even data that scientists collect is sometimes erratic. When words cannot describe a tangible creation, how can they describe the subject AtmA which is the core of all?

The appreciation of this fact that one cannot really talk about the self, is itself maunam.

Explanation of the third definition:

For beginners, the absence of noise is silence. This is, of course a good way to start. The clutter in the mind is usually the cause of stress. To de-stress themselves, people get into loose talk. This causes trouble again, mentally, and one gets into a loop.

We are accustomed to this definition alone. However, Shankaracharya feels this definition is for beginners. An advanced student needs more than just verbal silence.

By discernment, one needs to understand the value of verbal silence and practice it, as a tool for refinement; after which one has to graduate to the other two definitions of maunam.


आदावन्ते च मध्ये च जनो यस्मिन्न विद्यते ।

येनेदं सततं व्याप्तं स देशो विजन: स्मृत: ।।—-११०

AdAvante cha madhye cha janaH yasmin na vidyate

yena idam satatam vyAptam saH deshaH vijanaH smRitaH

आदावन्ते च मध्ये च = in the beginning, middle and end; जनो यस्मिन्न विद्यते = in which there are no beings; येनेदं सततं व्याप्तं = that by which all is pervaded; स देशो विजन: स्मृत: = that brahman is known as vijana desha

That in which there are no beings, in the beginning, middle and end; that by which all is pervaded, that brahman is known as vijana desha

vijana desha  means a place without beings. Traditionally, one is initially instructed to choose a place where there is least disturbance from others. Hence, people go to mountains etc and also choose a time of the day where there is least activity and noise.

As one has advanced, one needs to understand, that, the real vijana desha is brahman alone. It is not a particular place. Brahman itself is untouched by beings. Hence, with this understanding, one can learn to be at peace at any place at any time.

In all the three periods of time, brahman is vijana. Brahman is not located at one point. It is all pervading. This all-pervading place is what one has to resort to, cognitively. I myself am this vijana desha. Where then, is the need for me to go anywhere for solitude? I am peace. All that exists is within Me. There is nothing apart from Me.

The dream world was entirely pervaded by me, the waker. The dream objects did not affect the waker. The dream does not exist on waking up. So also, on realizing my true nature, I know that the creation does not affect me. I am brahman, the vijana desha.

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