Location: India

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Sloka - 13 and 14

Hari OM,


pa.nchapraaNamanobuddhidashendriyasamanvitam.h .
ap.nchiikR^itabhuutotthaM suukshmaaN^gaM bhogasaadhanam.h .. 13..

pancha prana: the five pranaas(the manifestation of life in our body)
mana buddhi: mind and intellect
dasha indriya: the ten organs
samanvitam: combined
apanchikruta bhoototyatha: formed from the rudimentary elements before their panchikarana,
sookshma angam: the subtle body
bhoga saadhanam: instrument of experience

The five Pranas, the ten organs and the Manas and the Buddhi, formed from the rudimentary elements (Tanmatras) before their “five-fold division and mutual combination with one another” (Pancheekarana) and this is the subtle body, the instruments-of-experience (of the individual).

In the last sloka we learnt about the first adjunct which is the gross body which is made of the five elements. In this sloka, Acharya is explaining about the next upadhi, which is the subtle body.

The subtle body or the sukshma shareera consists of the five vital airs, or the pancha pranas, the five organs of action, five organs of perception and the mind and intellect. Acharya calls these as the instruments of experience.

The gross body which is made of the five elements is the instrument through which we experience the pains and the pleasures, the subtle body is the instrument responsible for all these senses. These are responsible for all the thought processes and hence the limited happiness, sadness and all other feelings arising due to the contact with the external world through the gross body. It is well known from experience that in deep sleep when the mind is inactive and all the senses are merged in their source, one does not feel cold or hunger or any sensation and hence there is but happiness. It is only when the mind is active and the senses are working that one can feel through the external sense organs. It is only due to the modifications of the mind that one feels attracted to an object or to the sensual pleasures. Thus the subtle body is responsible for the enjoyment of the outer world.

Hence this subtle body can be called as the seat of all desires. These also originate from the five elements and hence are impermanent and insentient. It is only when due to ignorance and ego, one mistakes them as the Self that all the dualities and hence the attachments and aversions resulting from it arises. Hence a seeker must clearly know that these are also upadhis and are only illusory limiting adjuncts while the Self which can never undergo any modifications is ever distinct from these.

Let us learn about the last Upadhi which is the causal body in the next sloka.


anaadyavidyaanirvaachyaa kaaraNopaadhiruchyate .
upaadhitritayaadanyamaatmaanamavadhaarayet.h .. 14..

Pada artha:
Anaadi: beginning less
Avidya: ignorance
Anirvachya: indescribable
Kaarana upaadhi: causal body
Uchyate: is said
Upaadi tritayaadanyam: other than the three conditioning bodies
Aatmaanam: the atman
Avadhaarayet: should understand

Avidya which is indescribable and beginning less is the Causal Body. Know for certain that the Atman is other than these three conditioning bodies (Upadhis).

In the two pervious verses, we have learnt the two Upadhis which are the gross and the subtle bodies. In this verse, we learn about the third upadhi which is the causal body. Acharya here is explaining that the ignorance is the causal body. It is the cause due to which the other two bodies exist. Only when one forgets one’s own nature that there arises limitedness. Due to this limitedness, duality and hence all the miseries arise. The mind and the intellect with their modifications create a world of duality which is superimposed on the Self. Through the gross body and inner organs, one experiences this outer world. Thus both the gross and subtle bodies exist only when the truth about the Self is not known, i.e. due to ignorance only. Hence ignorance is called as the causal body. The atman which is verily existence-consciousness and bliss can never be attached to ignorance as both are contradictory in nature. Hence ignorance is only an illusory adjunct of the Self.

A seeker may next get a doubt as to what is this avidya and if it’s essential to know this ignorance to get rid of it. Hence to answer such doubts, Acharya Sankara explains next that Avidya is beginning less and indescribable.

As we are learning through Mayavada Darpanam, ignorance is something that exists only empirically but is non existent from the absolute view. Thus it is something that neither being or non being. Hence it can never be described. The knowledge that is derived of any object is only due to the inner organs and our experiences from the outer world. Hence the process of gaining such knowledge invariably comes from the gross and the subtle body only. Thus this illusory knowledge arises only due to our experiences of the outer world of duality. But the gross and the subtle bodies are but a result of ignorance and ignorance which is the cause for the instruments of perception, feeling and thought cannot be brought fully within our experience and hence is inexplicit.

The beginning of avidya cannot be known by the mind, because it is the mind which creates the concepts of time, space. Time is only an interval between any two experiences. i.e. there should be a beginning experience also there should be a subject of experience, an object being experienced and the relation between them, i.e. experiencing. But this duality is only a product of avidya and the Self which is devoid of any limitations or duality can never undergo any experiences. Thus, it is impossible to find the beginning of ignorance and hence avidya is explained as beginning less.

Thus, the aim of a seeker is not to understand ignorance but to gain knowledge that will negate this ignorance. As we have seen, it’s futile to search for the cause of something illusory and hence even these explanations are only to ward off a seeker from searching the cause of ignorance. Swami Chinmayananda in his commentary gives a beautiful example for this. Seeking the root of ignorance is as futile as holding a lamp and searching place of darkness!!

Hence it has to be contended that the ignorance which is the cause of all the duality and the gross and the subtle body is illusory in nature and is only an adjunct of the non dual Self.

Hari OM

With regards,
Mallika R
What you have is God's gift to you and what you do with what you have is your gift to God


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