Thursday, January 10, 2008

Slokas 1 to 5

Hare krishna,

Prostrations to the GURU and prostrations to one and all who are but AMMA’s children.

As ordained by SATGURU AMMA ,we shall make an attempt to discuss the text “Aparokshaanubhuti “ in the coming days.

Aparokshaanubhuti is a work written by Sankaracharya. As the name of the text suggests , the purpose of this work is to gain direct experience of the self. Aparokshaanubhuti or direct experience of self cannot be attained without contemplation. Hence this text is a contemplative work, which would help a seeker attain self –realization.

There are 2 kinds of knowledge a spiritual seekers gets in the path. One is parokshaanubhuti , which is the knowledge gained by sitting at the feet of the GURU and knowing the truth of ultimate reality. This is indirect experience,by means of hearing from the GURU. When one dwells on the knowledge imparted by the GURU by sravana ,manana and nidhhidhyasana he gets aparokshaanubhuti or direct experience of the self.

The work starts with sankaracharya explaining the purpose of the work , the target audience,sadhana chatustayam needed for understanding the work, the logic put forth for explaining the nature of the world ,nature of brahmam, explaining how self is different from body ,verses for contemplation on brahmam.

Sloka 1: This work starts with Sankara offering prostrations to God and the GURU.
shriihariM paramaana.ndamupadeshhTaaramiishvaram.h .
vyaapaka.n sarvalokaanaa.n kaaraNa.n ta.n namaamyaham.h .. 1..

Meaning: I am Offering my prostrations to Sri Hari or Vishnu who destroys the passion, who is of nature of eternal bliss , who is the teacher, who is all pervading , who is the cause of the world. Govinda Ananda pada is the Guru of Sankaracharya, who is also referred to here as sri hari paramananda.

Here the cause of the world means that Hari is the substratum of the world. As the world is an illusion in the substratum of brahmam. Its not a cause as a cause keeps changing, but brahmam is changeless.

Sloka 2:
aparokshaanubhuutirvai prochyate mokshasiddhaye .
sadbhireva prayatnena viikshaNiiyaa muhurmuhuH .. 2..

Meaning: The purpose of the work is for Moksha or liberation. Seekers can attain self realization by putting an effort many many times.

Explanation: Any scriptural text would have “Anubandha chatustayam” associated with it. Which is Adhikari or “target audience .vishayam or subject, prayojanam or fruit or purpose, sambandham or relation between subject and prayojanam.This anubandha chatustayam of the work has been mentioned in the sloka above.
The Adhikari of the work are people who are purity of mind, who are the seekers of the truth.
The Subject of discussion is aparokshaanubhuti or experience of the self.
The prayojanam or fruit is attainment of moksha or liberation.
The sambandham between the subject and fruit is that, only when a seeker learns the text does he attain moksha.

After explaining the purpose of the text, the author moves now explains the sadhana chatustayam or the qualifications needed by a seekers to apprehend the text. Anyone is eligible to learn the text, but only a person endowed with sadhana chatustayam as sanakaracharya explains, only will be able to apprehending the reality and thereby attain self-realization.

Sloka 3:
svavarNaashramadharmeNa tapasaa haritoshhaNaat.h .
saadhanaM prabhavetpu.nsaa.n vairaagyaadi chatushhTayam.h .. 3..

Meaning : Doing ones own dharma ,austerities and devotion towards god a person attains sadhana chatustayam to apprehend the reality.

Explanation: Doing the activities necessary for sustenance of the life, which would help one to concentrate on spiritual progress is what sankaracharya talks about. Austerities like japa and dhyaana need to be done along with devotion to the lord, which helps a person to attain sadhana chatustayam .So once a person does his dharma, does activites like dhyaana and japa and had devition towards god, he gets sadhana chatustayam ,which makes a man comprehend the truth of brahmam.

The sadhana chatustayam consists of viveka,vairagya,sama aadi shatka sampatti(or 6 fold qualifications) and mumukshutvam. In the next sloka author explains one of the sadhana chatustayam “vairagya “.

Sloka 4:
brahmaadisthaavaraanteshu vairaagya.n vishhayeshhvanu .
yathaiva kaakavishhThaayaa.n vairaagya.n taddhi nirmalam.h .. 4..

Meaning: A person should have dispassion towards everything right from brahmam to the things of the world,this dispassion is compared with the dispassion a person would have towards the excreta of the crow. Such a vairagya is the pure vairagya that is needed for sadhana chatustayam.

Explanation: Vairagyam is of 2 types para vairagya and apara vairagyam. Apara vairagyam is the dispassion towards the world. para vairagyam is passion towards brahmam along with dispassion towards the world. Vairagyam is not same as virakti, which means aversion towards temporarily due to some bad experiences in life.
Here the author talks about para vairagyam ,wherein the person should consider things as at a higher level like brahmam till the worldly impermanent things in the same way he considers the excreta of the crow. It only means that as a person find excreta of the crow to be useless so also he should find everything in the world as unattractive. He should be to renounce anything in the world as he would ignore the excreta of the crow. This alone is supreme vairagyam.
Only through viveka or discrimination of the real and unreal , the permanent and impermanent, would a person develop dispassion towards everything in the world.

Sloka 5:
nityamaatmasvaruupa.n hi dR^ishya.n tadvipariitagam.h .
eva.n yo nishchayaH samyagviveko vastunaH sa vai .. 5..

Meaning: Atma alone is nityam and all that we see in the world is unreal.Having this conviction is vivekam.

Explanation: Sankaracharya explains vivekam in this sloka. Knowing that atma or self is the only is permanent and all that is seen in the world as impermanent is called vivekam. Except brahmam , everything else is ureal, things seem to exist but do not really exist.
The world seems to exist for us until death, but it really doesn’t exist. Having this knowledge of the only real entity present is called vivekam.Unless a person has strong conviction about the reality ,the ultimate truth, he cannot attain vairagyam or mumukshutvam. Unless he know the what is real he doesn’t develop disppassion towards the impermament and strive for the eternal brahmam.

Hare krishna

1 comment:

vedanta said...


Prostrations to all.

Few things to keep in mind -- though the ultimate reality of Consciousness is beyond any name and form, yet we need to give it a name in order for us to remember & point it out. The standard that is followed for the reality in English is BRAHMAN and not BRAHMAM -- this has many reasons associated with it. The first and simple reason being that in english Brahman is most commonly used and hence using any other word would lead to confusion. The second reason is using the sanskrit noun which is BRAHMAN (shabdha). Hence please make sure we don't confuse ourselves as well as others while using Vedantic terms.

It is easy to attack the above point by telling that everything is Brahman and hence why do we need to maintain norms. Yes, everything is Brahman. But does that help us in following it to perfection? No - we will claim our father and mother to be Brahman thereby succumbing to their forcing in worldly pleasures but we will not consider words of wisdom or from someone whom it comes to be Brahman. As long as we have differentiations for worldly things, we need norms to be met so that we don't use kutarkas to support our statements and views. This brings one incident to my mind wherein one friend started arguing that the partner though is against the Vedas and Upanishads is helping in the spiritual path because all paths lead to Brahman. Add to it the quotation of Kena Upanishad stories at the end of the Upanishad. That person obviously saw what he/she wanted to see thereby twisting Vedantic statements to suit themselves -- Kena Upanishad very first speaks about Brahman as beyond everything and known only by he who ardently seeks it -- that which is beyond everything can never have any path associated with it.

Thus kutarkas like the above has to be avoided - the first step towards this is to follow general norms. Hence please request to use the word BRAHMAN to denote the ultimate reality of Consciousness.

There are 2 kinds of knowledge a spiritual seekers gets in the path. One is parokshaanubhuti , which is the knowledge gained by sitting at the feet of the GURU and knowing the truth of ultimate reality. This is indirect experience,by means of hearing from the GURU. When one dwells on the knowledge imparted by the GURU by sravana ,manana and nidhhidhyasana he gets aparokshaanubhuti or direct experience of the self.

Anubhuthi means experience and jnaana means knowledge. 2 knowledge isnt paroksha anubhuthi and aparoksha anubhuthi but paroksha jnaana and aparoksha jnaana. The word anubhava would also be fine but anubhuthi is something more internal or while one is experiencing it -- please try to use proper sanskrit words than loosely using them.

Meaning: The purpose of the work is for Moksha or liberation. Seekers can attain self realization by putting an effort many many times.

The sloka meaning isn't "can attain self realization by putting an effort many times" but it is "should put effort again and again in order to attain self realization". sadbhih eva -- through sadhakas alone, prayatnena - by putting effort, vikshaneeya - should practice, muhurmuhuh - again and again. FOR WHAT? For aparoksha anubhava which alone is moksha.

Aparoksha anubhava is the noun for indirect experience. When we speak about an experience (as an action), the word to be used is aparoksha anubhuthi (i dont know whether this is verb or adverb as my english is very weak).

Lastly, thanks to Aparna for starting discussion on one of the best works for practice and implementation of Vedanta. It is easy to learn few scriptural texts and use it for one's own purpose like the above mentioned friend did as kutarka. But it is really tough to implement even a single subject like Viveka, vairagya etc. We will claim to go to Ramakrishna Mission daily, learn scriptures, read bhaja govindam from our childhood, go to Paramartha's and other swami's classes but yet we will have implemented nothing at all. Unless we implement Vedanta in life, we will not gain aparoksha anubhava which is moksha or eternal bliss. We may claim to be enjoying all bliss being surrounded by husbands, wives, children, parents, siblings, friends etc. yet we will be no better than pigs with their entire family in filth!

This is one of the short works of Sankara which will help us in implementing Vedantic concepts. A person who learns this work and implements at least a percentage of concepts in the work will very soon attain aparoksha anubhava (not my word but Sankara's words about the work). Once again thanks to Aparna for giving us all the opportunity to implement Vedanta in life thereby making it a blissful one.

There is a commentary of Vidyaranya on Aparoksha Anubhuthi and published by Mahesh Research Institute (Varanasi). Will try to chip in important points that Vidyaranya mentions in the commentary so that we get a complete overview of the work.

There is also a few mp3s in of discussions on aparoksha anubhuthi. Interested seekers can go through the same as well.

Prostrations to all.


Let a moment not pass by without remembering God