S N Sastri, Tuesday, February 15, 2011 4:40 am

hastAmalakIyaM (2 of 3)

Part 2 –

Now a doubt arises. It has been said in the preceding verse that the same Self dwells in all bodies. If this is so, then, when one person is happy all others should also be happy and when one is suffering all others should also suffer. But this is not the case. So the Self in each body must be different. This doubt is answered in the following verse. 

mukhAbhAsako darpaNe dRRishyamAno

mukhatvAt pRRithaktvena naivAsti vastu |

cidAbhAsako dhIShu jIvo’pi tadvat

sa nityopalabdhisvarUpo’ham AtmA ||3

darpaNe– In a mirror, dRRishyamAnaH– which is seen, mukhAbhAsakaH– the reflection of a face, mukhAt– from the face, pRRithaktvena– as separate, vastu– a thing, na asti eva– does not exist at all, tadvat– so also, dhIShu– in the intellects, cidAbhAsakaH– the reflection of Pure Consciousness, jIvaH api- the jIva also, saH- that, nityopalabdhisvarUpaH– which is of the nature of eternal consciousness, AtmA– self, aham– I (am).

3. The reflection of a face in a mirror has no real existence apart from the reflected face. So also, the jIva, who is only the reflection of the Self or Pure Consciousness in the intellect (or mind) has really no separate existence apart from the Self. That Self, which is of the nature of eternal consciousness, I am.

When one face is reflected in a number of mirrors the reflections may be of different shapes and sizes, according as the mirror is plain or convex or concave. The reflection in a particular mirror shakes if that mirror shakes. The reflection is hazy if the mirror is not clean. But all these differences in the various reflections do not at all affect the face that is reflected. In the same manner the jIvas or the individual souls which are only reflections of the same Self in different minds have different characteristics, depending on the nature of each mind, but the Self which is the original does not at all take on the characteristics of the minds, but remains ever the same. The jIva, who is also in reality Pure Consciousness and therefore eternal and infinite, wrongly identifies himself with the particular mind in which he is reflected and with the physical body associated with that mind. Consequently, he looks upon himself as a limited individual and attributes to himself the joys and sorrows, hunger and thirst and old age and death, which all pertain only to the body and mind. The aim of all the upaniShad-s is to remove this wrong identification.  

Now another doubt arises. If the Atma is not affected by what happens to the body, mind, etc, then it means that there is no bondage at all. If so, what is the need for the upaniShad-s teaching about the means of removal of bondage? This doubt is answered in the next verse.

yathA darpaNAbhAva AbhAsahAnau

mukhaM vidyate kalpanAhInamekaM |

tathA dhIviyoge nirAbhAsako yaH

sa nityopalabdhisvarUpo’ham AtmA ||4

yathA– Just as, darpaNAbhAve– on the removal of the mirror, AbhAsahAnau– when the reflection ceases, mukhaM– the face, kalpanAhInaM– without any false appearances, ekaM– as one only, vidyate– exists, tathA– so also, dhIviyoge– when the mind ceases (becomes still), yaH– that which is, nirAbhAsakaH– without any reflection, sa nityopalabdhisvarUpo’ham AtmA– as before.

4. Just as when the mirror is removed  the reflection of the face ceases to exist and the face alone remains without any false appearances in the form of reflections, so also, when the mind (the reflecting medium) ceases to exist, the AtmA is free from all wrong notions caused by the reflection. 

The jIva is the reflection of brahmanAtman (Self) in the mind. Just as the reflection of a face in a mirror is not real and has no existence apart from the face itself, the jIva has no reality apart from brahman whose reflection the jIva is. But because of ignorance of his real nature, namely that he is in reality none other than brahman, the jIva identifies himself with the body-mind complex. It is this identification which is the cause of all suffering. When, as a result of the realization of his real nature as brahman, the identification with the body-mind complex comes to an end, all sufferings cease. This realization of one’s real nature and the cessation of identification with the body-mind complex is what is spoken of as ‘the mind ceasing to exist’. The cessation of the mind thus means only the loss of the mind in its present form with its accumulated vAsanA-s or impressions left by past actions and thoughts, which are the cause of likes and dislikes and all their disastrous consequences. When these vAsanA-s are eliminated, the mind becomes pure and the jIva realizes his real nature as brahman. He then dissociates himself completely from the body and the mind and is no more affected by what happens to them. This is the state of jIvanmukti or liberation even while living.


The following description of jIvanmukta in jIvanmuktiviveka of svAmI vidyAraNya is relevant in this context. 

The jIvanmukta is one for whom this phenomenal world, in which he moves and acts, has ceased to exist. In the case of an ordinary person, his mind reacts to the various forms in the world and gives him knowledge of their variety and their differences from one another. But the mind of the jIvanmukta does not get so transformed and so he does not see differences, but sees all forms only as brahman. In deep sleep the mind does not undergo any transformation, but the seed for transformation remains. So sleep cannot be equated with the state of jIvanmukti. The jIvanmukta remains unaffected by both pleasure and pain. He is not elated by something good happening, nor is he depressed when a calamity occurs. He does not crave for anything, but subsists on whatever comes of its own accord. Though his senses function and can experience everything, his mind is absolutely calm and does not react to anything. Though his eyes see everything before him, his mind does not judge them as good or bad, favourable or unfavourable and so he is free from agitation and attachment or aversion. The senses themselves do not cause any harm. It is the mind which judges what is experienced by the senses and develops likes and dislikes in the case of an ordinary person. Since the mind of the jIvanmukta does not make any such judgment, he is free from all attachment and aversion. Because of the absence of transformation of the mind, the jIvanmukta is free from vAsanA-s. His mind always remains pure. He never looks upon himself as a doer of actions since he does not identify himself with the body-mind complex which alone performs all actions.

Consequently he is neither elated nor depressed by the good or bad results of the actions. Others do not have any reason to fear him, because he never insults or harms others in any way. He is also not afraid of any one. He remains unaffected even if some wicked man insults or harasses him. He does not distinguish people as friend or foe. Though full of learning, he never exhibits it. His mind is absolutely free from worldly thoughts and is always fixed on contemplation of the Self. He remains cool even in matters concerning himself, just as a man attending a marriage or other ceremony in another’s house remains unaffected by the gain or loss of that other person. This coolness is due not only to his freedom from worry, but also to his awareness of the fullness of his own Self. These are the characteristics of the jIvanmukta.

Some (such as the CarvAkas and Buddhists) consider the mind itself to be the Self or AtmA. This view is refuted in the next verse.

manashcakShurAder viyuktaH svayaM yo

manashcakShurAder manashcakShurAdiH |

manashcakShurAder agamyasvarUpaH

sa nityopalabdhisvarUpo’ham AtmA ||5

yaH– That which, svayaM-itself, manashcakShurAdeH– from the mind, eye and other organs, viyuktaH– different, manashcakShurAdeH– of the mind, eye and other organs, manashcakShurAdih– the mind, eye, etc.,  manashcakShurAdeH– to the mind, eye and other organs, agamyasvarUpaH– not accessible, sa nityopalabdhisvarUpo’ham AtmA– as before.  

5. I am that Self which is of the nature of eternal consciousness, which is different from the mind, eye and other organs, but is itself the mind of the mind, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear and so on. It is however inaccessible to the mind and sense-organs.

The Self is different from the mind and organs, that is to say, from the gross and subtle bodies. The external objects are experienced by the mind through the sense organs. The mind and the sense organs are clearly seen to be different from the experienced objects. By the same reasoning, the Self which illumines the mind and the organs must necessarily be different from them.

It is only by the light of the Consciousness that is the Self that the mind and organs, which are themselves insentient, perform their functions of thinking, seeing, hearing and so on. This is why it is said in this verse that the Self is the mind of the mind, eye of the eye and so on. This is based on the kenopaniShad which says:–

He (the Self) is the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of speech, the vital air of the vital air and the eye of the eye (1.2).

The mind and the organs of sense can experience only external objects. They cannot know the Self. The mind has by itself no consciousness, but appears to be conscious only because of the reflection of the consciousness of the Self on it. The sense organs also derive their apparent sentiency only from this reflected consciousness. This being so, it is obvious that the mind and organs cannot know the Self.

Part 1, Part 3

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