Science of the Absolute Chapter 6 - Verses

 

DARSANA-MALA

 

A GARLAND OF VISIONS OF THE ABSOLUTE

 

VI. KARMA-DARSANAM (VISION OF ACTION)

 

1. atmaiva mayaya karma karoti bahurupadhrk asangah svaprakaso'pi nidrayamiva taijasah
 
It is indeed the Self, though self-luminous
And detached, that through negativity
Does action bearing many forms,
Like the dream-agent in sleep.
 
ASANGA SVAPRAKASAH-API, although detached and Self-luminous,
NIDRAYAM TAIJASAH IVA, like the dream-agent in sleep,
ATMA-EVA BAHURUPADHRIK, the Self itself, bearing many forms,
MAYAYA KARMA KAROTI, by means of its negative principle does action
 
Because the Self, like the sky, is without taint and because it is Self-luminous like the sun, it cannot be reasonably thought of as capable of any action. In reality the Self does not do any action. If we now examine what it is that acts, we have to say it is Maya, because it is of the order of inert matter. It is not capable of any action independent of the Self. Therefore, because it is only capable of acting by the presence of the Self and is not different from the Self, and because for accomplishing any action there is nothing else, what effects all the various forms of action is the Self. That is to say, it is quite legitimate to think that it is the Self that effects all actions through Maya. In the state of sleep it is within everybody's experience that the subtle dream-agent is able to accomplish all action without possessing any outward organs of action. What the dream-agent accomplishes is experienced as if it is real, as long as the dream lasts. It becomes clear when coming out of the state of sleep that the work accomplished by the dream-agent is not real, but only apparent or virtual. The term bahurupadhrik (bearing many forms) is intended here to include within its scope all possible forms of action, the purport being that there is no action that is not attributed to the Self.
 


2. manye vadami grhnami srnomitiyadirupatah kriyate karma paramatmana cittendriyatmana

"I think, I speak, I grasp, I hear."
In forms such as these are actions accomplished
By the supreme Self, (which is also)
The Self of pure reason and the senses.
 
PARAMATMANA MANVE VADAMI GRIHNAMI, by the supreme Self  "I speak, I grasp",
SRINOMI-ITYADI RUPATAH," I hear", in such forms,
KARMA KRIYATE, actions are accomplished,
CITENDRIYATMANA, by the Self of pure reason and the senses (having the form of ego-sense with motor senses)
 
When action is accomplished it is the Self that remains and as the inner organs and the motor organs accomplishes all works. That is to say, it is the one Self as the reasoning Self (cidatma) that accomplishes acts of thought by saying to itself, "I think," and in the form of speech accomplishes the act of saying, "I speak", which is action in the form of the spoken word. As the Self of the hand accomplishes the action of taking which is of the form of grasping, and as the Self of hearing accomplishes the work in the form of "I hear." By reference to actions such as "I think" etc., we have to take it that all functions such as rising, falling, contracting, expanding and moving are also to be supposed. Because there is nothing other than the Self and because it is impossible that anything that is inert can accomplish any action, it is the ultimate Self (which is of the form of the reasoning Self with the senses), that accomplishes all actions, as expressly to be understood in this verse.



3. atmaivah karmanah purvamanyat kincinna vidyate tatah svenaiva karmani kriyante nijamayaya
 
Prior to action, it is the Self (that exists);
There is nothing else at all.
Through the Self, by its own negative principle,.
By itself are accomplished all actions.
 
KARMANAH PURVAM, prior to action,
ATMA-EVA VIDYATE, it is the Self that exists,
ANYAT KINCIT NA, there is nothing else at all,
TATAH, through it,
SVENA-EVA, by the Self itself,
NIJAMAYAYA, by its own negative principle,
KARMANI KRIYANTE, (all) action is accomplished
 
Prior to action there is only the Self and nothing else. Therefore it is that very Self which accomplishes all action through its Maya. Any action accomplished posteriorly cannot possibly arise from anything else. If we say that before the tree there was the seed, is it necessary to assert again that the seed caused the tree? The Upanishads also support such a view when they say that existence was what was there in the beginning. In other words this was in the beginning the pure Self.



4. saktirasyamanah kacid durghata na prthak svatah tayaivaropyate karma nikhilam niskriyatmani
 
From the Self, not different from itself
There exists a certain undefinable specificatory power
By that (power), all actions
Are falsely attributed to the actionless Self.
 
ATMANAH, from the Self,
SVATAH NA PRTHAK, not different from itself,
DURGATAH, an undefinable,
KACID SAKTIH ASTI, there exists a certain (specificatory) power,
TAYA-EVA, by that (power),
AROPYATE, is falsely attributed,
NIKHILAM KARMA, all action,
NISHKRIYATMANI, in the actionless Self
 
The Self has a specificatory power which is not different from itself and is undefinable. It is because of this specificatory power that all actions are attributed to the Self. Because the Self is actionless no action can be compatible with it. Then how is it we say the Self performs action? We are obliged to answer that Maya is the cause of all action and is the specificatory power of the Self. It is also incongruous to say that Maya, which is by itself non-intelligent, is the cause of action, because it is impossible that there is anything outside the Self. We are forced to admit that Maya is not different from the Self. On closer examination we see that it (i.e. Maya) is a non-existent principle. Thus when looked at in one way it has agency, and when looked at in another way it has not agency. When viewed in one sense it is existent and in another sense it is non-existent. On further analysis it is also seen to be indeterminate. When viewed in one way it is capable of occupying a place in the Self which cannot in principle give any place to anything outside it; and when viewed in another way it has no existence in the Self. In one way it is different from the Self, and in another way it is non-different from the Self taken as a whole as what is unpredicable and indeterminate. It is because of these qualities that it is undefinable and unpredicable. It is this very Self that attributes all actions to the Self which is actionless. It is also by this very Self remaining as desire (icca) wisdom (jnana) and action (kriya) that the Self is made to be an agent or non-agent of action capable of taking on all forms. When it is subject to desire the Self is the actor. In the form of wisdom it is actionless. When it is in action it can assume all forms.



5. sarvada'sanga evatma 'jnataya karma sangivat karoti na karomiti na jnah karmasu sajjate
 
The Self is always detached indeed.
One performs action as if attached due to ignorance.
The wise man, saying "I do nothing,"
Is not interested in action.
 
ATMA, the Self,
SARVADA, always,
ASANGA EVA, is detached indeed,
AJNATAYA, due to ignorance,
SANGIVAT, as if attached,
KARMA KAROTI, does the action,
JNAH, the wise man,
NA KAROM-ITI, saying "I do nothing",
NA KARMASU SAJJATE, is not interested in action
 
Here the word atma comprises both the living Self (jivatma) and the supreme Self (paramatma) without distinction. Like the supreme Self, the living Self is also always without attachment. It is because of ignoring the living Self as well as the supreme Self that it seems as if they participate in action. But wise men who have attained to true knowledge even when engaged in action know for certain that they are not performing any action at all. They never have any attachment to action. What has been praised in the Bhagavad Gita is the wise man who sees action in inaction and inaction in action. In reality there is no action at all in the Self. With those actions seeming to be present the Self has no relation. "But then where do these seeming actions exist? Who performs them? On what basis are they founded?" When such questions are asked, we say that because there is no possible place outside the Self there is no possibility of anything remaining outside it. We are obliged to admit that all actions merely seemingly exist in the Self and that the agency of all actions must be attributed to the Self. Furthermore the basis of all actions is the same Self and when it takes all possible forms it still remains as the great actor.



6. jvalati jvalano vayurvati varsati varidah dharatma san dharati khalveko vahati vahini
 
The one (Self) alone as fire (it) burns,
As wind (it) blows,
As water (it) rains,
As earth (it) supports (and) as a river (it) flows.
 
EKAH KHALU, the one (Self) alone,
JVALANAH SAN JVALATI, as fire it
burns,VAYUH SAN VATI, as wind (it) blows,
VARIDAH SAN VARSHATI, as water it rains,
DHARATMA SAN DHARATI, as earth it supports,
VAHINI SAN VAHATI, as a river it flows
 
It is the one Self that takes the form of the five elementals, each manifesting itself as the gross object by means of which all actions are accomplished.



7. urdhvam prano hyadho'panah khalveko yati niskriyah nadyantarale dhamati krandoti spandati sthitah
 
The one (Self) alone, remaining actionless,
Moves (as) upward and downward vital tendencies
Within the nervous centres, indeed,
It beats, murmurs and pulsates.
 
EKAH KHALU, the one (Self) alone,
NISHKRIYAH STHITAH, remaining actionless,
PRANAH (SAN) URDHVAN, as upwards vital tendency,
APANAH (SAN) ADAH, as downward vital tendency,
YATI, moves,
NADYANTARALE, within the nervous centres,
DHAMATI KRANDATI SPHANDATI HI, indeed beats, murmurs and pulsates
 
Inside the body, although remaining in the form of vital tendencies which accomplishes organic actions such as breathing in and out, the Self remains one and actionless.



8. astijanmarddhiparinatyapaksayavinasanam sadbhavamiha yo yati sa nanyo'vikriyatmanah
 
Here (in this visible world), as what exists,
Grows, transforms, decreases and attains its end-
As subject to six forms of becoming-
(That) is no other than the actionless Self.
 
IVA, here (in this visible world),
YAH, what,
ASTI JANMAR ADHI PARINATYA PAKSHAYA VINASANAM, as what exists, is born, grows, is transformed, decreases, attains its end,
SHADBHAVAM, six forms,
YATI, what is subject to,
SAH, that,
AVIKRIYATMANAH, from the actionless Self,
ANYAH NA, is no other
 
All the things we see in the world are subject to six forms of becoming. All these things subject to transformation are also subject to destruction and therefore they are unreal. It is only because of the existence of a changeless Self composed of pure existence that there is a semblance of the reality of things and their transformations. It is by dependence on such a changeless Self that the six transformations are possible. If there is no Self there is no world. It is for this reason that it has been said the world consists of the Self with its six transformations.



9. svayam kriyante karmani karanairindriyairapi aham tvasangah kutastha iti janati kovidah
 
By means of the inner organs and the senses
Actions become Self-accomplished.
However, the wise man knows,
"I am the unattached, inner well-founded one"
 
KARANAIH-INDRIYAIH-API, by the means of the inner organ and the senses,
KARMANI SVAYAM KRIYANTE, actions become Self-accomplished,
KOVIDAH TU, however, the wise man,
AHAM ASANGAH KUTASTHA ITI JANATI, knows "I am the unattached inner well-founded one"
 
The Self does not act and, if we say it is the inner organ and the senses that act because they are inert, they cannot accomplish actions as they are only the means of action. But if we examine how actions originate, we conclude that they are beginningless and accomplished by the presence of the Self ; in reality the Self does not act at all. The Self remains apart and is well-founded. The man using the double process of dialectical reasoning (uha-apoha) knows this reality with certitude.



10. drsyatvadbhasyamaham apyato'ham suktirangavat adhyastameka evadya svopi sarvoparisthitah
 
Because of being an object of experience,
Even the "I" is a conditioning factor,
Superimposed like the mother-of-pearl gleam.
Above everything else, today and tomorrow one alone is.
 
AHAM API, even the "I",
DRISYATVAT, because of being the object of experience,
BHASYAM, is a conditioning factor,
ATAH, because of this,
AHAM, I,
SUKTI-RANGAVAT, like the silver gleam in the mother-of-pearl,
ADHYASTAM, is superimposed,
ADYA SVOPI, today and tomorrow (i.e. always),
SARVOPARI-STHITAH, fixed above all things,
EKAH EVA, even one (is)
 
What is the object of consciousness is superimposition. (This verity has already been explained.) In other words, all things that constitute objects of consciousness are unreal. Even when so considered they have their basis in something real in order to express the unreal. Here the example of silver in the mother-of-pearl is given. When there is the superimposition of silver on the mother-of-pearl, although there is no actual silver it seems to be there. In spite of this the unreal semblance of silver is really based on the reality of the mother-of-pearl. In a similar way all actions and the egoism causing them are superimposed on the supreme Self. It is the supreme Self that is alone real, remaining one and eternal. The whole world consisting of action seems to be merely a superimposition on the Self. By the expression "fixed above all things" it is indicated that the Self is pure and other-worldly, transcending time and space as well as pleasure and pain, and that it is superior to all things.