by Swami Krishnananda
Kartā bhokte tyeva mādi śokajātaṁ pramuñcati, kṛtaṁ kṛtyaṁ prāpaṇīyaṁ prāpta mityeva tuṣyati (32). After having attained this direct knowledge, the illusory feeling "I am the doer, I am the enjoyer" is cast aside.An illumined person will no more feel that he is the doer of things or the enjoyer of things. The whole universe is acting, and there is only one action taking place in the whole cosmos. Many activities are not taking place, and all enjoyments are also the enjoyments of the central will of the cosmos. Neither you, nor I, nor anybody else has any prerogative either to do a thing or to enjoy a thing.
"I have done what is to be done, I have enjoyed what is to be enjoyed, and I have obtained what is to be obtained." This kind of threefold satisfaction arises after direct experience of the Atman. Kratakritya, praptaprapya, jnatajneya – these are the three qualities of an enlightened person. Kratakritya is one who has done whatever is to be done; nothing is left now. Praptaprapya is one who has obtained whatever is to be obtained and nothing more remains in the world to be obtained. Jnatajneya is to have known everything that is to be known; there is nothing further to be known. Such illumination arises after deep experience.
Ajñāna māvṛtis tadvad vikṣepaśca parokṣa dhīḥ, aparokṣa mātiḥ śoka mokṣa stṛptir niraṅkuśā. (33). Saptā vasthā imāh santi cidā bhāsasya tāsvimau, bandha mokṣau sthitau tatra tistro bandha kṛtaḥ smṛtāh (34). These seven stages are repeated here once again: ajnana or ignorance, avarana or veiling, vikshepa or distraction, paroksa jnana or indirect knowledge, aparoksa jnana or direct experience, shoka-moksha or freedom from sorrow, and tripti or immense eternal bliss.
These stages are to be associated only with the chidabhasa, and not with Brahman. Brahman does not undergo these seven stages. The reflected consciousness which we call chidabhasa – or jiva, as we may call it – is what passes through these seven stages. All the seven stages which are mentioned are conditions of the jiva only. They are not to be attributed to Brahman in any manner.
The bondage and the freedom of the jiva are included within this sevenfold process. The first three refer to bondage; the other ones refer to liberation. Ajnana, avriti and vikshepa are the three stages of bondage, and the remaining four are the stages of gradual liberation. Of the seven stages, the first three stages are processes, stages, of bondage. The remaining four are the gradual movement towards freedom. They all belong to chidabhasa, jiva chaitanya.
Na jānāmī tyudāsīna vyavahārasya kāraṇam, vicāra prāga bhāvena yukta majñāna mīritam (35). Ajnana (ignorance) – "I do not know. It does not exist." This kind of prating of the jiva is possible only before the rising of pure discrimination. No such statement of ignorance can be made after discrimination rises.
Amārgeṇa vicāryātha nāsti nobhāti cetyasau, viparīta vyavahṛtir āvṛteḥ kārya miṣyate (36). By wrong discussion, erroneously conducting the sense organs along the wrong path, one begins to feel that this is not there, and this is not known. What is the proof that God exists? Who has seen God? These are the stock arguments of atheists, agnostics, etc. Their arguments are based on a wrong foundation of logic. The very hypothesis of their logic is wrong and, therefore, such questions arise – questions which are themselves untenable.
The wrong actions one engages oneself in – such as in the case of the tenth man, ten people hitting their heads against a wall and causing them to bleed – in the case of all people, it is intense activity in the world. Outward movement in the direction of objects – this is the vikshepa that is caused by the avarana that is veiling prior to the arising of discriminative knowledge.
Deha dvaya cidābhāsa rūpo vikṣepa īritaḥ, kartṛ tvādya khilaḥ śokaḥ saṁsāra khyo’sya bandhakaḥ (37). In the case of we individuals, vikshepa is nothing but the physical and subtle body. We are suffering due to the operation of these two bodies. The subtle body contains the mind and the sense organs. The physical body – of course we know very well what it is. The physical body has its own problems, sufferings, sorrows, illnesses; and the mind is, of course, worse than that. All the problems are created by the mind and the sense organs. The identification of the chidabhasa or consciousness with the two bodies (deha-dvaya), namely, the subtle and the physical – this identification is called vikshepa or distraction. Chidabhasa, reflected consciousness which is jiva consciousness, identifies itself with the subtle body and the physical body. It moves outward in the direction of something other than its own self. Therefore, it is vikshepa, distraction. All the bondages, thousands of sufferings that we are facing in this world arising out of agency in action and enjoyership of fruits of actions – all this grief is attributable to this chidabhasa entering into relationship with the two bodies, namely, the subtle body and the gross body.
Ajñānam āvṛtiś caite vikṣepāt prāk prasiddhyataḥ, yadda pyathā pyavasthe te vikṣepa syaiva nātmanaḥ (38). A very important question is raised here. Ignorance and veiling have caused the vikshepa, or the distraction. You have to listen to me carefully. This is a very moot question. Ignorance or ajnana, and avarana or veiling, are the causes of the third stage, which is vikshepa or distraction. Now, what is this distraction?
It has been explained in the previous verse, the thirty-seventh verse, that the identification of chidabhasa consciousness with the subtle body and the gross body is called vikshepa. Now, who is it that is experiencing the ignorance and veil? Is it this distracted consciousness? The distracted consciousness is actually the jiva consciousness. It has arisen as the third entity here, in the process of the seven stages. So how can the third entity become associated or become the cause of the earlier two stages, ajnana and avarana? It is not Brahman's ignorance, and it is not Brahman's veiling. It must be somebody else's. That somebody is not to be found here. Who is this somebody?
The child that is not yet born cannot be the cause of our sorrow; only after it is born some difficulties may arise. Why should we attribute anything at all to it when it is not even born? The birth of the vikshepa takes place as the third process, the third link in the chain of these seven categories. Now, the question is raised here: Who is it that is experiencing the ignorance and the veil? Not Brahman, not even the vikshepa, and not jiva because jiva has not yet been born. Who is the ignorance or the covering veil? To this the answer is given in this verse.
We have to conclude that these earlier two stages of ignorance and avarana, or veil, are stages of the vikshepa or the jiva only. They are not stages of anybody else, because who is the ‘anybody else’? The only other one is Brahman. So we cannot attribute these stages to Brahman. We have to attribute it only to jiva, notwithstanding the fact that it is a posterior eruption in the seven stages. How do we explain this quandary? How are we attributing a prior thing to a posterior thing?
For this, the answer of the verse is though the vikshepa, the jiva consciousness, has manifested itself in a conscious form as a third stage, in a rudimentary form it existed in the earlier stages also. Even before we actually feel the sickness in our body, we are sick inside without our knowing it. There is an illness which arises from the deepest recesses of the koshas. The avarana, which is the anandamaya kosha, itself creates some disturbance. We cannot know it because there is no direct consciousness. Merely because we are not conscious that we are ill, it need not mean that we are not ill. The consciousness that we are ill arises afterwards when the illness projects itself outwardly into the conscious levels of the subtle and the gross bodies.
When the fruit ripens, we find that the peel becomes reddish. It does not suddenly become red just like that. It has been growing gradually from inside. Ripening was taking place from the very root itself, but we could not see it. When it was greenish outside, we concluded that the fruit was unripe. The ripening process started gradually from inside until it became manifest outside on the peel. Then we say it has ripened. Similarly, when we actually feel pain in the physical body, we say we are sick. But even without feeling pain we might be sick inside for other reasons of which we may not be conscious because the illness has not become an object of our consciousness.
So the answer to this peculiar question is that ajnana or avarana – ignorance and the veiling – should be considered as part and parcel of the jiva only as prior conditions of its manifestation. Even before the child becomes conscious, it exists in the mother's womb in a rudimentary form. Unconscious states cannot be regarded as somebody else's states. They are also states of the jiva. It becomes conscious later on; that is a different matter. The unconscious conditions are also its states, though they are not direct objects of perception. So the first three stages, which are the causes of bondage, belong to the jiva only – not to Brahman.
Vikṣepot pattitaḥ pūrvam api vikṣepa sanskṛtiḥ, astyeva tada vasthātavam aviruddhaṁ tatas tayoḥ (39). Even before the vikshepa manifests itself, the samskara or the vasana or the potency, the latency of the vikshepa, existed earlier in the form of this ignorance and avarana. So the individuality consciousness of bondage has two phases – the conscious phase and the unconscious phase. The unconscious phase is prior to the conscious phase; and that is there without one being aware of it. When we become aware of it, it has already manifested itself in active form.
Brahmaṇyā ropita tvena brahmā vasthe ime iti, na śaṅka nīyaṁ sarvaṣāṁ brahmaṇye vādhi ropaṇāt (40). We should not raise a question, "Why should we not regard it as a part of Brahman's experience?" Everything is rooted in Brahman; that is true. When the snake is superimposed on the rope, the snake may also appear to be moving. We can see it moving because we have superimposed all the qualities of a snake on it. Otherwise, it cannot be a snake. And we may even feel the bite of it if we have concluded that it is really a snake and we trod on it. But actually, the rope never bit us. It did not move. It was our imagination. Therefore, these characteristics of the seven stages, attributable to the jiva, should not be superimposed on Brahman. It is a different subject altogether. Brahman is unattached, and the stages belong only to the jiva.