kaThopaniShad Series Part – 33
In the previous mantra it was shown that the Atman is distinct from the sense/motor organs. One should not conclude that the Atman is to be realized as existing outside (the body). In order to clarify this and show that the Atman is the Supreme Entity beyond all others in creation the following is taught:
इन्द्रियेभ्यः परं मनो मनसः सत्त्वमुच्यते ।
सत्त्वादधि महानात्मा महतोऽव्यक्तमुत्तमम् ॥ ७ ॥
इन्द्रियेभ्यः परं beyond the senses मनः is the mind मनसः beyond the mind सत्त्वम् उच्यते is said to be the intellect सत्त्वात् अधि higher than the intellect महान् आत्मा the great Atman महतः and even than the great Atman अव्यक्तम् उत्तमम् the Unmanifest is higher.
Beyond the senses is the mind, beyond the mind is the intellect, higher than the intellect is the Great Atman, higher than the Great Atman is the Unmanifest.
The senses are the ones directly connected, through interaction, with the objects of the world. So, the mention of the senses includes the idea that the senses are of the same category as the objects. Beyond the senses is the mind stuff. And the intellect is the one that is higher, in status, hierarchy, than the mind. The intellect is the subtle entity called ‘mahat’ The ‘mahat’ principle, also known as hiraNyagarbha, is the totality of all the individual intellects in creation and since it is ‘huge/large’ that way, it is called Great Atman. This principle is the product of the Unmanifest principle. In other words, the mahat can be said to be the first entity in the manifest world. Therefore, beyond the mahat is the Unmanifest.
अव्यक्तात्तु परः पुरुषो व्यापकोऽलिङ्ग एव च ।
यं ज्ञात्वा मुच्यते जन्तुरमृतत्वं च गच्छति ॥ ८ ॥
अव्यक्तात् तु beyond the unmanifest परः पुरुषः is the Supreme puruSha व्यापकः is all-pervading अलिङ्ग एव च bereft of all indicatory marks यं ज्ञात्वा realizing Whom मुच्यते is released जन्तुः the born entity अमृतत्वं च and immortality गच्छति attains.
Beyond the Unmanifest is the Person, all-pervading and imperceptible. Having realized Him, the embodied self becomes liberated and attains immortality.
Higher than the Unmanifest is the puruSha, the Supreme Self, called brahman or Atman. This puruSha is all-pervading. Even though ether is admitted to pervade everything in creation, yet being a product in creation, ether too is limited in that sense. The puruSha is the Cause of even the ether and everything else in creation and therefore is the absolutely all-pervading principle. One special feature of this puruSha is that there is no indicatory mark which can be used to locate/identify Him. For example, the intellect, etc. can be said to be the indicatory marks for inferring that there is a sentient entity. Such a mark is not present in the case of the Supreme brahman since It is bereft of all such faculties like the intellect. By saying this, the mantra is stating that brahman is devoid of all sAmsAric attributes.
By realizing this puruSha as not different from oneself, the aspirant is released from the transmigratory bondage. From what is he released? It is from the ‘knot’ comprising of avidyA, etc. that binds him. What is special is that even while alive he becomes freed from these bonds. Upon the fall of the body on death, the entity called a jIva and jIvanmukta, liberated while alive, is now one with the Immortal Supreme brahman. It is this Supreme brahman that is devoid of all indicatory marks. And therefore alone, the vedAntic mokSha is extremely unique in that it gives no scope to ‘know’ it objectively.
How then is it possible to apprehend/know/realize the puruSha that is devoid of any indicatory marks? The following mantra addresses this question:
न संदृशे तिष्ठति रूपमस्य
न चक्षुषा पश्यति कश्चनैनम् ।
हृदा मनीषा मनसाभिक्लृप्तो
य एतद्विदुरमृतास्ते भवन्ति ॥ ९ ॥
न संदृशे not to the object of vision तिष्ठति is available रूपम् अस्य Its form न चक्षुषा not with eyes पश्यति sees कश्चन anyone एनम् Him हृदा by the intellect मनीषा understanding मनसा by the mind अभिक्लृप्तो He is revealed य whoever एतत् विदुः knows This अमृताः immortal ते they भवन्ति become.
His form is not an object of vision; no one beholds Him with the eye. One can know Him when He is revealed by the intellect free from doubt and by constant meditation. Those who know this become immortal.
The upaniShad-s are never tired of saying that the Supreme Reality called brahman/Atman/puruSha and any other names is not an object of the organ eye. By barring the organ eye, the other organs such as the skin, nose, ear and tongue are also barred from the capacity to apprehend the Self. Also, no being, whether human or otherwise, can get to ‘see’ the Self. Yet the upaniShad-s constantly urge upon the seeker to realize the Self. How is this possible? It is the intellect that comes to use here. It is the intellect which controls the mind which does the thinking function, which is the instrument in knowing the Self. The intellect has to be free of any occupation, functioning, related to the non-Self. It is when such an intellect is employed in the knowing of the Self does the mind get the confirmed vision of the Self. It is thus the Self that is beyond all sense organs comes to be known, grasped, realized. Those who thus succeed in realizing the Self, brahman, become immortal, that is, they are freed from the cycle of transmigration.
How is that specific condition of the intellect achieved? For this purpose the method, yoga, is stated:
यदा पञ्चावतिष्ठन्ते ज्ञानानि मनसा सह ।
बुद्धिश्च न विचेष्टति तामाहुः परमां गतिम् ॥ १० ॥
यदा when पञ्च the five senses अवतिष्ठन्ते stand still ज्ञानानि with their knowledge मनसा सह along with the mind बुद्धिः intellect च also न विचेष्टति does not move ताम् that आहुः they say परमां is the गतिम् supreme state
When the five instruments of knowledge stand still, together with the mind and when the intellect does not move, that is called the supreme state.
When the five sense organs (ear, skin, eye, tongue and nose) which are generally employed to grasp their respective objects (sound, touch, form, taste and smell) are restrained from functioning, along with the mind, which also goes out with the sense organs in the function of grasping their objects, is restrained from engaging in thinking etc. and the intellect which is the determining faculty does not function in its activities, then such a state is said to be the ‘supreme’. That is, such a state is the most conducive to realize the Self. It is to enable the aspirant to attain this state of mind that all spiritual practices starting from devotion to a God, disciplined life style, control of sense and motor organs, practice of silence, adherence to speaking the truth, non-injury, study of spiritual literature, etc. are prescribed. When the aspirant takes to these practices assiduously he attains that state of mind which cooperates in the gaining of the vision of the Self. Again, we must remind ourselves, that such a vision is not of any form but of the formless, all-pervading, non-object but the very subject that is the aspirant’s innermost Self.
तां योगमिति मन्यन्ते स्थिरामिन्द्रियधारणाम् ।
अप्रमत्तस्तदा भवति योगो हि प्रभवाप्ययौ ॥ ११॥
तां that योगम् is yoga इत्ति मन्यन्ते thus called स्थिराम् firm इन्द्रियधारणाम् restraint of the senses अप्रमत्तः vigilant तदा भवति is one then योगः हि for yoga प्रभवाप्ययौ both swells and recedes.
This, the firm Control of the senses, is what is called yoga. One must then be vigilant; for yoga can be both beneficial and injurious.
That firm restraint of the senses, mind and the intellect is called ‘yoga’, union, which is actually disjunction. The non-yogic state is one that is endowed with the gamut of problems and pains of the world. For, all pain and trouble accrue to man only by contacting the world of objects through the senses, mind and intellect. When these instruments are held in restraint voluntarily, it gives the yogin the taste of freedom from the worldly afflictions, even if it is for a short while. It is in this state that the Self is as though freed of the ignorance-born superimpositions. This state is said to be the firm restraint, establishment, of the senses/mind/intellect.
While in this state one becomes unerring, alert, that is, free from inadvertence. The yogin who is ever laboring to attain the state of mental peace, by leading a disciplined life, gets to attain his goal in this state of restraint called yoga, defined above. For, when the intellect, etc. are restrained, there is no room for erring. Therefore, even before sitting in that state, there is the injunction to eschew error by being ever vigilant. Or, one can even say that when one attains to that state of restraint then alone one becomes free of error, becomes vigilant. Why does the upaniShad specify this? It is because the nature of yoga is such. Yoga is subject to rise, growth, and decay. That is, owing to various conditions, external and internal, both within and outside the control of the yogin, yoga crystallizes to give a favorable condition or an adverse situation.