Science of the Absolute Chapter 10 - Verses
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Created on Monday, 20 October 2008 18:51
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2015 21:26
Published on Monday, 20 October 2008 18:51
Written by Patrick Misson
A GARLAND OF VISIONS OF THE ABSOLUTE
X. NIRVANA DARSANAM (VISION OF EMANCIPATION)
1. nirvanam dvividham suddhamasuddham ceti tatra yat suddham nirvasanam tadvadasuddham vasananvitam
Emancipation is of two kinds -
What is pure and what is impure.
What is without incipient memory-factors, that is pure,
Likewise, what is qualified by incipient memory-factors is impure.
NIRVANAM, emancipation (i.e. absorption),
SUDDHAM-ASUDDHAM-CA-ITI, as pure and impure,
DVIVIDHAM, of two kinds,
TATRA, of these,
YAT NIRVASANAM, what is without incipient memory factors,
TAT SUDDHAM, that is pure,
YAT-VASANA ANVITAM, what is qualified by incipient memory factors,
(TAT) ASUDDHAM (CA BHAVATI), (that becomes) the impure.
The topic of this chapter is concerned with the one ultimate purpose and value which has been reviewed in all the nine previous chapters. For this reason, this version of Nirvana is of greater importance than any of the previous visions. It is with this vision that this work comes to an end. Nirvana refers to the highest point that is attainable by man. In other words, it represents the perfection of life. Although the term is used more properly in the context of Jain and Buddhist thought, those who adhere to the thought of non-dual Vedanta can also use this term as having the same connotation. The following terms are synonyms for Nirvana; nirvriti, escape or absolution; nirvritti, release, absence of functioning; nivritti, withdrawal, paramagati, ultimate goal; paramapadam, ultimate state; moksha, liberation; kaivalya, aloneness; mukti, salvation; amritam, immortality; apavargam, salvation; nishsreyas, ultimate state; sreyas, spiritual progress; santi, peace; brahmabhuyam, attaining the Absolute, brahmatvam, absoluteness; brahmasayujyam, union with the Absolute; brahmasamsparsam, participation with the Absolute; brahmanirvanam, absorption in the Absolute; paripurnata, plenitude.
The Nirvana usually described under the term jivanmukti (release while yet in life) refers to the same state. That is to say, when a man has, by means of Self contemplation, attained to (absolute) wisdom and after attaining the practice of Yoga, etc., and while still in life is able to be free from all sufferings, what refers to this ultimate goal of a spiritual aspirant is called Nirvana.
Although Nirvana refers to one and the same subject, as depending on the maturity of certain types of spiritual aspirants qualified for it, and the conditions applying to them, it has here been divided into many divisions, according to the types of expression proper to each. Initially in. this verse it has been divided into two (divisions) called the pure and the impure. What is "free from incipient memory factors" is the pure and what is "qualified by incipient memory factors" is the impure.
2. atisuddham suddhamiti suddham ca dvividham tatha asuddhasuddhancasuddhamasuddhasuddhamucyate
As pure and extra-pure, thus
Are two kinds, likewise,
The impure also as impure-pure
And impure-impure is spoken of.
SUDDHAM CA, the pure also,
ATISUDDHAM-SUDDHAM ITI, (as) the extra-pure and the pure,
DVIVIDHAM, of two kinds,
ASUDDHAM-CA, the impure also,
ASUDDHA-SUDDHAM ASUDDHA ASUDDHAM (ITI DVIVIDHAM) UCHYATE, pure-impure and impure-impure are spoken of.
It will be hereafter described in detail that pure Nirvana belongs to liberated men while still in life, and impure Nirvana belongs to those who are attached to psychic powers and who merely desire liberation. It is based on the superiority or inferiority of liberated people in life that the divisions of pure Nirvana have been made. Under the impure class of Nirvana there are only two subdivisions.
3. atisuddham tridha pascadvare caikam variyasi ekamekam varisthe'tha suddham brahmavidisthitam
The extra-pure is again of three kinds -
One is the elect, one is the more elect,
One is the most elect - while the pure
Exists in the (simple) knower of the Absolute.
ATISUDDHAM, the extra-pure,
PASCAT TRIDHA, again is of three kinds,
EKAM VARE, one in the elect (knower of the Absolute),
EKAM VARIYASI, one in the more elect (superior knower of the Absolute),
EKAM VARISHTHE, one in the most elect (most superior knower of the Absolute),
SUDDHAM, the pure,
BRAHMAVIDICA STHITAM, exists in the (simple) knower of the Absolute.
The extra pure (i.e. the superior Nirvana) under reference here has three grades: the elect, the more elect, and the most elect. Thus those who have attained liberation while yet in life are of four kinds. Among them the pure abides in the knower of the Absolute; the positively pure abides in the elect; the comparatively pure abides in the more elect; and the superlatively pure abides in the most elect. The personal characteristics that distinguish these four jivanmuktas (those attaining liberation while still alive) will be described below.
4. asuddhasuddham virajastamo'nyatsarajastamaha mumuksau prathamam vidyat dvitiyam siddhikamisu
The impure - pure is without passion and inertia,
- the other is with passion and inertia.
The former as in one who desires liberation,
While the latter as in one who desire psychic powers is to be known.
ASUDDHA-SUDDHAM, the impure-pure,
VIRAJAS-TAMAH, is without passion and inertia,
ANYAT, the other (i.e. the impure-impure),
SARAJAS-TAMAH, is with passion and inertia,
PRATHAMAM, the former,
MUMUKSHAU, (as) in one who desires liberation,
DVITIYAM, the latter,
SIDDHIKAMESU, (as) in those who desire psychic powers,
VIDYAT, is to be known.
It has been stated that the type of Nirvana which characterizes a person who has got rid of the stains coming from inertia and passion, and whose spirit by its purity of bright and intelligent qualities (i.e. sattva guna) begins with the desire for liberation and a wholehearted aloneness towards full liberation, is named-the impure-pure. By the term mumukshau (one who desires liberation) as stated above, one has to think of a type of person whose passionate and inert tendencies have been abolished, and what remains is the bright and intelligent tendency which alone is characterized by the desire for liberation.
Although such a person is still under the sway of some sort of desire, however pure, and because his attainment of Nirvana is not yet fully perfect, it would not be wrong to class it under impure Nirvana. Though such a person is called impure-pure because of the fact that he has the end of perfection in view, and because his desire is characterized with reference to liberation it is not wrong to qualify it as also being impure. When subjected to such a close examination, there is seen to be present the impurity coming from desire and the purity consisting of the pure tendency referring to emancipation as the goal. As these two traits abide together, the combined epithet of impure-pure has been applied to this type of Nirvana.
When a person, through his long habit of contemplation or by the practice of Yoga, becomes qualified for Nirvana, the secondary signs or symptoms of the state into which he has entered are developed in. him through psychic powers, such as knowledge about past and future events or happenings. These symptoms come by themselves and indicate the degree of success of the spiritual progress of the aspirant. Patanjali says in the "Yoga Sutras" (III.38):
"These (psychic attainments) are obstacles to Samadhi. Psychic attainments (cause) excitement."
And Valmiki in the "Yoga Vasishta" also cautions:
"Again drugs and incantations can produce psychic powers, none of them favourable to the attainment of the supreme state of the Self. Is it not when the love of desires and gains have been cancelled that the great gain of the Self takes place? How can it come to a person whose mind is immersed in desire for psychic powers?"
There are also many other texts discountenancing the importance of such psychic powers. Therefore, we have to understand that these powers are not commendable because they have been vitiated by passionate and inert attitudes. They are capable of making one who has attained to a high state of Nirvana fall from such a state, after making him swerve from the path of salvation. Therefore the Nirvana of the man who desires psychic powers has been classified as impure among the impure. In other words, because the psychic powers as well as the desire for them are both impure, the Nirvana qualified by such powers or desires has been called doubly impure. There is no harm in naming this kind of Nirvana as extremely impure.
5. dagdhva jnanagnina sarvamuddisya jagatam hitam karoti vidhivatkarma brahmavidbrahmani sthitah
Established in the Absolute, a knower of the Absolute,
By the fire of wisdom having burnt everything up,
Aiming at the good of the world,
Performs action according to what is considered as right.
BRAHMANI STHITAH, established in the Absolute,
BRAHMAVIT, a knower of the Absolute, (i.e. a man who is emancipated while still alive),
JNANAGNINA, by the fire of wisdom,
SARVAM DAGDHVA, having burnt everything up,
JAGATAM HITAM UDDISYA, aiming at the good of the world,
VIDHIVAT KARMA KAROTI, performs actions according to what is considered as right
Here the term brahmavit (knower of the Absolute) refers to one who has attained to salvation and has no need to perform actions, but nonetheless continues to do actions without any selfish motives which are conducive to the happiness of the world. The knower of the Absolute, although he has merged his intelligence in the bliss of the happiness of contemplating the Absolute, is still in the context of Nirvana, while continuing at the same time to act in the interests of kindness to all living things. Although he is detached from all actions, he will not engage himself in wrong action. Vidhivat means what is compatible with the rules laid down for conduct. This indicates (a knower of the Absolute) will not engage in wrong action. He will however remain untouched by both good and bad action because of his neutrality to both.
In three different contexts the Bhagavad Gita refers to the fire of wisdom burning up all karma (action) which explain the position here:
"That man whose works are all devoid of desire and wilful motive, whose (impulse of) action has beet reduced to nothing in the fire of wisdom, he is recognized as a knowing person (pandit) by the wise. (IV.19).
Relinquishing attachment for the benefit of works, ever happy and independent, though such a man be engaged in work, he (in principle) does nothing at all. (IV.20).
Just as fire when kindled reduces to ashes the fuel, 0 Arjuna, likewise the fire of wisdom reduces all works to ashes. (IV.37)
(For a description of the brahmavit (knower of the Absolute) see Chapter II, verses 65-72 in the Bhagavad Gita).
The eloquent description on the part of Lord Krishna correctly answers to what constitutes a brahmavit as intended (by us) in this chapter. In various contexts found in the wisdom texts, a knower of the Absolute has been described and praised in the following ways:
"The knower of the Absolute becomes the Absolute."
"The knower of the Absolute attains the Ultimate."
Established firmly in his understanding, without having any false notions, that man who has established himself in the knowledge of the Absolute is called the knower of the Absolute. He does not become glad when obtaining favourable results, nor does he become sorry when. obtaining bad results.
6. samnasya sarvakarmani satatam brahmanisthaya yascaratyavanau dehayatrayai brahmavidvarah
(He who) renouncing all action,
Always established in the Absolute,
Continues the course of the bodily life,
In the world - (he) is the elect knower of the Absolute.
YAH, he who,
SARVA-KARMANI SAMNASYA, renouncing all action,
SATATAM BRAHMANISHTHAYA, always established in the Absolute,
DEHA YATRA YAI, continuing the course of the daily life,
AVANAU CARATI, wandering in the world,
(SAH) BRAHMAVIDVARAH, (he) is the elect knower of the Absolute.
This is the distinguishing characteristic of the man who has attained to the first stage of those who are called elect knowers of the Absolute. This type of knower of the Absolute has only that degree of responsibility about carrying the burden of the body he has come to possess because of actions from the past only till the moment such actions with their beginnings in the past have been expended thus causes the body to drop off of itself. In the Bhagavad Gita (III.17) we read:
"But for him who happens to be attached to the Self alone,
who finds full satisfaction in the Self,
For such a man who is happy in the Self as such, too,
there is nothing that he should do."
What has just been stated also answers to the description of an elect knower of the Absolute. It is this type of elect knower of the Absolute that can correctly be called a Sannyasi (renouncer).
In XII.13 to 19 of the Bhagavad Gita we read;
"He who has no hatred to all creatures, who is also friendly and compassionate, who is free from possessiveness (mine-ness) and egoism, who is equalized in pain and pleasure, and forgiving,
Such a unitively-disciplined one (yogi) who is always contented, self-controlled, firmly resolved, whose mind and reason are dedicated to Me, he My devotee, is dear to Me.
He who does not disturb (the peace of) the world and (whose peace) is not disturbed by the world, and who is free from exaggerations of joy, hate and fear, he too is dear to Me.
He who expects no favours, who is clean, expect, who sits unconcerned, carefree, who has relinquished all undertakings, he My devotee is dear to Me.
He who is the same to friend and foe, and also in honour and dishonour, who is the same in cold and heat, in pleasure and pain, and who is free from attachment;
He who neither rejoices nor hates, nor grieves nor desires, and who has relinquished (both) the beneficial and the harmful, such a one endowed with devotion is dear to Me.
To whom censure and praise are equal, who is silent (in manner), content with whatever happens to come, having no fixed abode, mentally constant, such a man of devotion is dear to Me."
The person described in these seven verses in Chapter XII called bhakti yoga (Unitive Devotion and Contemplation) refers to the elect knower of the Absolute who has renounced all undertakings in life. Because the contemplative state of this type of knower of the Absolute is free from action, public-mindedness, etc., without even the least touch of urgency to action and attachment to public life, and because he is always in the enjoyment of the bliss of emancipation, this type of Nirvana has been put in the category of an elect kind of emancipation or absorption.
7. anyena vedito vetti na vetti svayameva yah sa variyan sada brahmanirvanamayam asnute
(He who) being informed by another is able to know,
But (he) himself does not know-
He is the more elect, who always
Enjoys absorption in the Absolute.
YAH, he (i.e. the jivanmukta or man attaining liberation while still alive,
ANYENA VEDITAH, being informed by another,
VETTI, is able to know,
SVAYAM-EVA, then by himself,
NA VETTI, does not know,
SAH VARIYAN, he is the more elect,
AYAM, such a one,
BRAHMANIRVANAM, absorption in the Absolute,
The (plain) knower of the Absolute, while engaged without passion or motivated by any (personal) gain, enjoys the bliss of Nirvana while doing works beneficial to the world. As for the more elect knower of the Absolute, he, abandoning all works, accomplishes his journey here fully and consciously awake. If we now think of the second type called the more elect (variyan) knower of the Absolute, he is one without any attachment to the world and without being interested in doing any acts, nonetheless with his activities turned inwards (introspectively) and without any consciousness of outward things, silently remains in the bliss of emancipation or absorption. He attains to outward consciousness only when prompted by somebody else, and thus comes to be conscious of such matters as sounds or touch. Thereafter he again relapses into his own natural state of silence and again enters into the bliss of Nirvana. In this state of profound peace (he) enjoys uninterruptedly the bliss of the Self. This kind of Nirvana has been termed as the more elect kind of emancipation. This more elect knower of the Absolute is referred to as one who has transcended the sphere of the operation of the three nature modalities (gunas). It is this very type of jivanmukta (man attaining liberation while still alive) who has transcended the nature modalities that is described in the Bhagavad Gita in XIV 22-26.
8. svayam na vetti kincinna vedito'pi tathaiva yah sa varisthah sada vrttisunyo'yam brahma kevalam
(He who) by himself does not know anything,
And even when made to know (knows) not -
Such a one, always void of activity,
The most elect, is the Absolute alone (in itself).
YAH, he who,
SVAYAM, by himself,
NA VETTI, does not know,
TATHAIVA VEDITAH-API, and likewise even when made to know,
NA (VETTI), (he) knows not,
SA VARISHTHAH, he is the most elect,
NYAM, such a one,
VRITTI-SUNYAH, void of activity,
KEVALAM BRAHMA, is the Absolute alone (in himself).
The most elect knower of the Absolute is he who, without having any outer consciousness of things, has a mental life whereby he is always merged in the state of Nirvana. This most elect knower of the Absolute is not affected by any incipient memory factors (vasanas) which refer to his body or the physical world.
He has no alternating activities of the mind each as right or wrong volitions. All acts which arise from one's preferences or hatreds of things are always motivated by the prevalence of the three nature modalities, whether they be easy or difficult. Because of transcending the influence of the three nature modalities, this most elect knower of the Absolute is not subject to any functional activity arising in his mind. Only the basic functions of life continue to operate. Even when, by virtue of life functions persisting in him, he is seen to move, he is not aware of them. What is more, even when he is prompted by others he does not gain any consciousness of them. The normal experiences of life, such as thirst and hunger, are not felt by him. He does not even have the consciousness of possessing a body. He will not take food by himself. His earthly body has attained to natural inertness because the Self has attained to its proper state of aloneness.
Thus the most elect knower of the Absolute is no other than a person who, while remaining in a body having minimum life functions, is himself merged in the highest bliss of Nirvana. This bliss is of eternal and everlasting purity. Without any possibility of ever returning to life, he attains to the term of what all activities are meant to reach. In other words, he is the Absolute. As the Upanishads declare: "He does not come back". "On attaining that there is no return at all, that is my supreme abode." In such words what has been extolled in the wisdom texts (sruti) and even in the obligatory texts (smriti) refers to this most elect knower of the Absolute. It is this same aloneness (i.e. supreme purity of the Self) which has been referred to by Patanjali as consisting of the equality of purity between the intelligent element (buddhi) and the Self (atma). Here the purity of the buddhi should be understood as the state of non-action attained by transcending the three nature modalities. Thus when the intelligent element attains an equality of purity with the Self, the aloneness from the establishment of the Self in its own true form results. This aloneness is the same as the ultimate emancipation or absorption (paranirvana) or the most elect of all Nirvanas. There is no Nirvana higher than this. There is no living man of Nirvana who is more elect than this most elect knower of the Absolute. Such a state is a very rare one to attain.
The term sada-vritti-sunya (always void of activity) can also be read as sada avartti-sunya (always without return). Then we get the meaning that such a man does not come back to earthy life anymore. This interpretation is also permissible.
9. heyopadeyata nahyasya'tma va svaprakasakah iti matva nivartteta vrttirnavarttate punah
Of this (world) there is certainly nothing to be accepted or rejected,
As for the Self, it is self-luminous.
Having understood (thus), one should withdraw (from all functionings),
Thereafter, function does not repeat (itself).
ASYA, of this (world),
HEYA UPADEYATA, rejection or acceptance,
NA-HI, certainly there is not,
ATMA-VA, as for the self,
SVA PRAKASAKAHA, it is self-luminous,
ITI MATVA, having understood thus,
NIVARTTETA, one should withdraw (from all activity),
NA AVARTATE, does not repeat (itself).
Because the world is not real there is nothing to be rejected nor accepted. It is the Self that is real. Therefore it is the Self that we should attain to. One should know in the first instance that the Absolute is true and the world is false. Thereafter one should meditate on the fact that the Self is self- luminous.
10. ekameva'dvitiyam brahmasti nanyanna samsayah iti vidvannivartteta dvaitannavartate punah.
The one Absolute alone there is without a second,
Nothing else there is, no doubt herein.
Having thus understood, the well-instructed one
From duality should withdraw, (he) does not return again.
ADVITIYAM, without a second,
BRAHMA EKAM-EVA (ASTI), one Absolute alone (there is),
NA ANYAT ASTI, nothing else there is,
(ATRA) NA SAMSAYAH, (here) is no doubt,
ITI MATVA, having thus understood,
VIDVAN, the well-instructed one,
DVAITAT, from duality,
IVARTTETA, should withdraw,
SAH) PUNAH NA-AVARTTATE, (he) does not return again.
The words "one Absolute only without a second" is a teaching found in the Chandogya Upanishad. Its meaning is that the Absolute is without any difference between entities of the same kind.. To say that there is only one Absolute and that there is no other Absolute like it, is the negation of difference between entities of the same kind. To say that besides the Absolute there is no second entity at all constitutes the non-difference between entities of different kinds. That the Absolute has no changes within itself such as origin, growth, transformation, etc. is what amounts to saying there is no internal difference in the Absolute. In the above dictum the term ekapi (one) refutes any difference. The term advitiyani (without a second) underlines the absence of the difference between different kinds of entities. The term eva (itself) is meant to underline the absence of any difference within itself of the Absolute.
Even in the Taittiriya Upanishad we see it often repeated that, "He, the Absolute is only one." With the help of the meditation on these truths, one should abolish all doubt and attain firm certitude about the unique status of the Absolute. The one who has attained to the state of Nirvana is the real learned one. He will nevermore have the confusion arising from duality. He will be finally released from the suffering arising from dualistic belief. Then, by itself, that kind of happiness which is of a never returning order happens and no more suffering can take place.
In the Katha Upanishad it is also stated that a wise man is never born nor does he ever die. The released man enters into such an eternal state forever.
The Mandukya Upanishad says that when the vision of the ultimate Self takes place, the knots of the heart are severed, all doubts are cut off, and all actions weakened. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad we also read, "for them there is no return."
In the Chandogya Upanishad it says, "He attains to the world of the Absolute (and) this is Nirvana." The same type of wise man is mentioned similarly in many parts of the wisdom texts. He enjoys the ultimate bliss of Nirvana which is ever auspicious, most bright, and desirable.