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A new Advaita forum has been opened exclusively to discuss Advaita Vedanta in terms of questions and answers. The purpose of the discussion is to arrive at clear understanding of Advaita using scriptures as pramaaNa or means of knowledge.  From time to time questions will be raised and answered to stimulate the discussion. In addition, some on going talks will be posted for listening and for contemplation.

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Hari Om!


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: Knowing which I will know Acharya Sadanandaji  ( 2862 )
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« : December 02, 2009, 04:03:49 PM »

By Acharya Sadanandaji

tat tvam asi - II
knowing which I will know everything

The 'tat tvam asi' or 'you are that' statement is pronounced in Ch. Up. 6th Chapter by father-teacher Uddaalaka to his son-student Swetaketu. The purpose of the teaching is to establish the declarative statement made by the teacher that knowing one thing; one can know everything else "eka vijnaanena sarva vijnaanam bhavati". This cannot be true in objective sciences where one cannot know anything fully and completely, even if one tries. In any science, our experience is that one becomes super specialist in narrower and narrower field of investigation. The nature of the objective knowledge is such that more one investigates the more it reveals. Hence as we learn more and more, we become more and more aware of the vastness of the knowledge and start discovering that what we know is insignificant compared to what we do not know. Our ignorance grows faster than the knowledge.  One the other hand, an Upanishadic student approaches a teacher and daringly asks, Sir, please teach me that knowledge knowing which I will know everything "kasmin no bhagavo vijnaate sarvam idam vijnaatam bhavati" Mu. Up.

Here Uddaalaka's statement also amount to the same: knowing that one thing, one will know everything. He illustrates this with an example saying knowing gold, one essentially knows all the products of gold.  That means he has the substantive knowledge of all the ornaments made of gold, that are created and yet to be created. In essence, if we know the material cause, all products of that material are as well known, since the cause pervades the effects. Gold pervades the gold-ornaments. Taking examples of ring, bangle, bracelet, etc, we have established that all are nothing but gold itself with various names and forms. Hence ring, bangle, bracelet are only names for convenience or for transactional purposes, but in reality, there is no ring, no bangle or no bracelet. What is there is only gold. Thus ring, bangle and bracelet have transactional reality but not absolute reality. Transactional reality or vyaavahaarika satyam is called mithyaa. Mithyaa means they do not have independent existence away from their substantive, gold. Every mithyaa will have satya or reality as their substantive. Hence they are called superimpositions on the reality. Thus ring, bangle, bracelet, etc are names and forms superimposed on the substantive gold. If I am ignorant of the substantive and take the superimposed attributive names and forms as real, then there is an ignorance caused error of judgment on my part, and the error is called error of superimposition or adhyaasa. There is no pramANa for adhyaasa, protests a dvaitin, while committing himself that very error of superimposition by identifying himself with his body, mind and intellect. Upanishad utilizes the familiar example to emphasize the fundamental problem in life.

1. Gold does not undergo any transformation; it only appears in different forms. In Vedanta it is called vivarta or apparent transformation, in contrast to pariNAma involving a change in the substantive, like milk becoming curds or yogurt. Inherent properties change only when substantive changes "upayannpayan dharmo vikaaroti hi dharmiNam" says Sureswara. Similarly Brahman, the material cause for the universe does not and in fact, being infinite, cannot undergo any modification or transformation. Apparent transformations are only apparent and not real. From gold point, gold remains as gold without any transformation. It can say it is my nature to exist in variety of forms for which people give different names. That is only my vibhuuti or glory. Thus the whole creation is only an apparent transformation with attributive differences in the created entities with names and forms, with Brahman underlying the essence of the creation. From Brahman point there is no creation, apparent or real. Only from the point of jiiva identifying with local BMI looks at the world separate from him. For him only there is a creation and Vedanta says if you are seeing creation then that is only apparent and not real.

2. Appearance of many products each with of their attributes that differ from those of others is the essence of creation.  Hence all objects of creation are nothing but material cause itself with different names and forms. The names and forms are only transactionally real but have no absolute validity, similar to ring and bangle, etc. That is called mithyaa. Hence scriptures use the word "vaachaarambhanam vikaaraH": transformation only at the level of speech, that is, naamkevaaste - a name for a form. For this, scripture is the only pramANa.

3. Ego and the resulting samsaara are caused by ignorance of the underlying substantive, changeless reality and taking the apparent plurality with divergent attributes as reality, causing attachments and aversions or raaga and dvesha. Hence Vidyaaranya says in dRikdRisya viveka

asti bhaati priyam ruupam naamam chetyamsapancakam|
adyatrayam brahmaruupam jagadruupam tato dvayam||

Every entity in the world has five characteristics: existence, cognoscibility, attractiveness, form and name. Of these five, the first three belong to Brahman and the other two belong to the world. Thus world is nothing but Brahman as substantive but with names and attributes. All other nouns assigned to the world are like ring and bangle are mithyaa only. Similar to what we said about ringly gold, bangly gold, all the objects are adjectival Brahman as for example, this body-Brahman, food-Brahman, drink-Brahman, eater-brahman and eated-brahman, etc as every thing in the universe is name and form superimposed on the substantive Brahman; and that is exactly how Krishna describes taking Vedic ritual as example:

brahmaarpaNam brahma haviH, bramhaagnou brahmaNaahutam|
brahaiva tena gantavyam brahmakarma samaadhinaa||4-25

In essence, everything is nothing but Brahman.  Hence Upanishad says "sarvam khalvidam brahma neha naanaasti kincana" -  "all THIS is indeed Brahman. In this universe there is no plurality whatsoever".

Suppose if ring or bangle or bracelet goes to their guru and ask sir please tell me where I can find Gold-God, because of which the whole universe of ornaments came, by which they are sustained, and into which they go back, as I want to attain or merge with that Gold-God. Does the ring or bangle or bracelet have to do some karma yoga or service to Gold or do some meditation or upaasana on Gold, so that Gold-God can, out of compassion, appear in front of the ring, bangle or bracelet or do they have to take-up some sanyaasa or become parivraajaka for them to discover or realize the truth about themselves, because that is what scriptures have said or aachaaryaas have said, etc. The teacher will say you do not have to look anywhere else or go anywhere, because - tat tvam asi - YOU ARE THAT. Of course, ring, which has been accustomed to think itself to be a ring and brain-washed for generations that it is only a ring, is not ready to accept that it is gold. Sir, how can I be that gold-God? I am only a ring with all the limitations in the world with ID, OD, and width and ellipticity, born on such and such a date, suffering so much, imprisoned in the fingers of this person, etc. while gold is all pervading ever present reality without any limitations of IDs and ODs.  The teacher will have to teach the ring that it has to renounce its notions about itself: I am not the ring, with all those qualities of the ring, but I am that because of which I exist as a ring and without that there is no ring at all. Upanishad says that all pervading gold that everyone is seeking is the very core of the ring, bangle or bracelet, discover that Gold-god in the very heart or your inner essence, devoid of all IDs ODs etc. "yo veda nihitam guhaayaam parame vyoman". (I am only dramatizing the processes with no offence is intended for anyone). Reality is as simple as that and one cannot escape from it even if one wants. How far the ring has to go to discover the gold, that far I have to travel to discover Brahman. The obstacle in my seeing such an obvious truth is due to my lack of proper vision. I am looking everywhere while the truth is daringly present right here and now. Hence Krishna calls this as kingly secret because no one believes it even if one is told. The problem resides in the fact that although I am a conscious entity, I identify intensely with superimposed inert entities that I am not ready to accept that I am devoid of any inertness. I am not ready to accept that like ring, bangle and bracelet, there is no validity for the forms and names other than for convenience, the essence of each is the very material because of which they are what they are and without that they have no independent existence.

Hence if we make an identity statement that  ring = bangle = gold, for the equation to be valid, we discard their superficial differences in terms of forms or other attributes that distinguish ring from bangle and gold and only look at the essential or substantive content and recognize their identity as they are made of the same substance, gold. This discarding the superficial attributes but equating at substantial level to validate the identity relation is technically called bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNa.

This is illustrated by a classical example. The teacher says soyam devadattaH: This is that Devadatta. Here there is an identity statement implied:This devadatta = that devadatta. This devadatta is right here and right now with attributes distinctly different from that devadatta whom we met many years ago and at different place. The BMI of this devadatta are quite different from the BMI of that devadatta, when he was looking very young and cute. Hence identity of this and that devadattas is not obvious since the attributes of this devadatta and that devadatta are distinctly different. But when the teacher says this is that devadatta, for the statement to be valid, I have to strip out all the contradictory attributes between this devadatta and that devadatta and only equate the essential individual who is different from his attributive BMIs. Therefore the identity is not at superficial BMI level but at substantive level of individual, who remains the same in spite of changing attributive BMIs. Discarding the superimposed attributes and equating the essentials that really count in the identity equation is bhaagatyaaga lakshaNa.

Going back to Uddaalaka's teaching in the Upanishad, he first goes into details of creation emphasizing the material cause for the creation is existence-consciousness. Existence alone was there before creation - sat eve idam agra asiit, which is one without a second: ekam eva advitiiyam. Then the teacher says, this existence before creation visualized the whole creation or essentially had a grander plan - tat aikshata. First, visualization implies the existence is a conscious entity, since conscious entity alone can visualize. Also it emphasizes that creation is not a random process by whims and fancies of the creator. Hence even the Lord has to plan how to create. Hence Upanishad says - he visualized. In Tai. Up. a similar statement is made, there it says he contemplated - sa tapo2tapyata| sa tapastaptvaa - to indicate that the creation is not just a random phenomenon but well thought out planned creation following the blue prints provided by the previous karmas performed by jiivas, in the past creation. Hence creation-sustenance-dissolution is cyclic process without a beginning and end. Thus creation was there in potential form (as in blue prints) before it got manifested into grosser forms. The grosser sequence of creation is emphasized in the Upanishads in terms of how first five subtle elements formed and from which, by process of panchiikaraNa involving five fold division and recombination, grosser forms are produced. Thus the whole universe manifested starting from one existence-consciousness into apparently many, just as one gold becoming many ornaments. Just as gold pervades all the ornaments, the material cause - sat-chit - pervades the whole creation consisting of both bhuuta and bhoutika, all living and non-living entities. After going through several details, Uddaalaka wraps up the teaching with the famous statement: aitadaatmya idagam sarvam tat satyam, sa aatmaa, tat tvam asi, Swetaketu. This statement is repeated nine times in the Upanishad emphasizing its importance, as Uddaalaka addresses each and every possible doubt that the student had. Before the tat tvam asi statement, there is equally important statement - aitadaatmya idagam sarvam tat satyam, sa aatma. It says in essence, the substantive of whole creation (idam sarvam) without any exception is satyam or sat - the existence reality only and that is the self, the conscious entity.  That Sat-Chit was there before the creation, and it continue to exist as the very essence of all this entire universe of creation (idam sarvam). Therefore all idam sarvam, this entire universe is only a superimposition with divergent attributive names and forms on the substantive sat-chit, that is the self - And THAT YOUR ARE - tat tvam asi, Swetaketu. Hence THAT OR tat - stands for the essence of the whole creation, which was there before creation and which supports the whole creation and into which only the whole creation dissolves, just as the gold is the cause for all ornaments, sustain all the ornaments and into which all ornaments dissolve. Thus it is the material cause for the creation  - that SAT you are. Substantive the self does not and cannot undergo any change during the creation. Hence the apparent names and forms created are only mithyaa like ring and bangle. Mithyaa means they do not have independent existence as their existence depends on satya, which is the underlying substantive for all idam sarvam. Thus Upanishad essentially declares that the whole idam sarvam is mithyaa - neither real or unreal - and maayaa becomes the cause for creation for one becoming into apparently many and the substantive for the creation of idam sarvam as Uddaalaka points out is the satyam that you are. Thus - I am- is the cause, sustenance and annihilation of this whole universe of creation.

Hence identity I = that involved bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNa where the all the contradictory qualifications of 'I' and 'that' are dropped out and only the essence that pervades this entire universe of creation which appears as saakshyam with naama and ruupa the underlying essence of which sat-chit only and that underlying sat-chit is the self that I am. Hence in essence the saakshyam is not separate from saakshii since the underlying substantive is one that is the self that I am - that is the turiiyam emphasized in Mandukya Upanishad by mantra 7 "naantaH prajnaH na bahirprajnaH". In this mantra scriptures says turiiyam is prapancopashamam - the whole world (that include both waking and dream worlds) resolve into it as it is the substantive for all.  Hence Bhagavaan Ramana also says "ISha jiivayoH viShadhii bhidaa, satva bhaavato vastu kevalam".  Only the costumes that Iswara and jiiva wearing are different and if you remove these costumes (using bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNa) the essential substantive of both is the same, that is the sat swaruupam- pure existence in essence tat tvam asi, the substantive of jiiva-jagat-Iswara, the individual-the world and the creator of the world.

Question: Sir, you say sat-chit is the essence of the whole creation - but the world is inert where is the chit in it? - this will be addressed in the next.
Hari Om!

« : April 06, 2015, 10:28:54 AM Dr. Sadananda »
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