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A 'Vedanta Mission' Page

Lessons on

Tattva Bodha-1

of Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankaracharya

Lessons by

Poojya Swami Sri Atmananda Saraswati


'Tattva Bodha-1' contains 12 Lessons dealing with the First Section of the text pertaining to the 'Sadhana-Chatushtaya Sampatti'


INDEX

(Click on the 'Subject Matter' of Lessons to jump to them)

Lesson No.

Subject Matter of Lesson

Lesson # 1

Introduction / Invocatory shloka / Four goals

Lesson # 2

The Opening Sentence / Two kinds of Sambandhas

Lesson # 3

The Four fold qualities of a student of Vedanta

Lesson # 4

Viveka - the discrimination between the real & the unreal

Lesson # 5

Vairagya - dispassion discussed

Lesson # 6

Shama - the control of mind discussed

Lesson # 7

Damah - control of sense organs discussed

Lesson # 8

Uparama - introvertedness explained

Lesson # 9

Titiksha - forbearence explained

Lesson # 10

Sraddha - faith explained 

Lesson # 11

Samadhanam - explained

Lesson # 12

Mumukshutvam explained

 Hari om !

Lesson 1

(Introduction / Invocatory shloka / Four goals)

Tattva Bodha literally means 'Knowledge of the Truth'. This small but all encompassing Prakarana Grantha (Introductory text) of Vedanta, and has been written by one of the greatest teachers, reformer & missionary of India. Indeed he is none other than the great Bhagwan Sri Adi Sankaracharya (Click on the link to go to Sankara Page), who was not only a great philosopher, but also a great writer, poet, visionary, reformer, organiser etc. He is seen as the Gyana Avatar of Lord Shiva himself, he was an embodiment of the timeless & immortal vision of the Vedas.

The Text :

The entire text except the opening and the concluding sentences are in prose. The opening & concluding statements are in a shlokas. The opening verse is what is generally called as a Mangalacharan shloka, or an invocatory shloka. All our endeavors too should always start with remembering God. Such shlokas also reveal some important facts about the text being started. Sri Sankara in this opening shloka says :

"Having saluted Sri Vasudeva, the King of Yogis, the Guru who is the bestower of the knowledge of Truth, the Tattva Bodha - the knowledge of Truth, is being expounded for the benefit of the seekers after liberation."

Knowledge of Truth alone redeems man from all the shackles, limitations and problems of life. Basically man has no intrinsic problem. He is that divinity itself. There is no problem in the world too. It is a perfect creation, extremely beautiful too. All problems are man-made and have to be solved by man himself, with the help of right knowledge. This is what the scriptures do, provide right knowledge. This is what my teacher gave to me, and this is what I present for all such seekers of Truth. With due respect to all teachers, some keep spoon feeding their students with even small & simple things of life. They keep taking decisions for their students, thus not only stunting their growth, but also bringing about dependence on their teachers for even small things in life. Such teachers may help solve some problems, but the basic dependence always remains. This is not an ideal condition. Even though all gurus will have to help their students in their fields just like our parents and other well wishers do in helping solve their problems, but the responsibility of a teacher does not end here. Ultimately their students should become mature and enlightened enough to not only take their decisions themselves but also attain heights attained by their teachers themselves. For this one has to go one day into the very 'Knowledge of Truth'.

When this understanding dawns in a person that all our problems are only because of ignorance of Self then alone a true seeker is born.

The goals of life :

There are four goals of life. Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. All are important requirements of everyone's life. Artha is working to bring about financial security, in short bringing about the ability to generate resources. It modern context it basically implies the ability to earn money, the basic resource of human setup, with which all transactions are possible. With basic resource available with us we can go about planning and getting other aspects of life. Kama is the ability to make the best of every sensual experience & pleasures. Mere availability of objects of pleasures is not enough, we should know how to make the best of each moment. These two - Artha & Kama, are very important worldly goals. The majority are pursuing these alone. These two help bring about a relatively higher degree of sense of security and happiness in man. The joys of man can be compounded greatly if the person is also a 'very conscientious & sensitive being'. Thus comes the third goal called Dharma. One should be as sensitive to others as he or she is to oneself. That is the spirit of Dharma. Man being a social being this spirit of mutual respect, love & cooperation is extremely important for his very existence too. A person who is living a very conscientious & righteous life, after fulfilling his own personal requirements is generally considered an ideal man. The scriptures donít agree. They say that it is good and also important that a person is virtuous, but it is also important to see whether all activities are an act of love & freedom, or an escape from oneself. Many a times a person just cannot be with himself. He or she just has to have some company, some entertainment, some escape. By being with oneself, he feels bored, lonely. A deep rooted sense of lack lingers inspite of all initial achievements, and this lack just doesnít seem to go by any thing. He thereafter just aspires for freedom from this sense of lack. This is what the ultimate goal is all about. It is called Moksha - total sense of freedom.

The deep rooted sense of lack is because of the very 'sense of individuality' which was the basis of all his earlier pursuits. This is a strange problem. What does it exactly mean to be free of this sense of individuality ? What kind of life will be there without this identity ? How can the very individuality be eliminated by the efforts of this individual him self ? Is it possible to transcend all limitations of time & space while being perceptibly bound by time & space. We are not interested in some posthumous decorations but freedom from limitations in this very life. Those who aspire for such kind of freedom are called Mumukshu, and here the teacher says that while the whole worldly systems cater to the fulfillment of the aspirations & desires pertaining to Artha, Kama & Dharma, yet the desire of Moksha is rarely catered to. The teacher thus resolves that in this text I am going to cater to such people, who can not only think of but also aspire for such freedom. I am going to expound the Knowledge of Truth which alone is the doorway to fundamental freedom & subjective awakening.

Thus with this verse the teacher not only pays his obeisance's to his teacher, but also reveals the Adhikari (student), Visaya (subject matter), Prayojana (goal) and also indicated the Sambandha (relationship between the subject-matter and the ultimate goal). These four points are invariably revealed in the beginning of any text. They are together termed as Anubandha Chatustaya - the four fold things which binds the text into being what it is.

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Lesson 2

(The two kinds of Sambandha)

After the invocatory shloka in which Sri Sankara offered his salutations to his teacher and also indicated the Anubandha Chatustaya, the Acharya starts the main text of Tattva Bodha with a statement which prepares the basis for the subsequent exposition. He says :

Sadhana-Chatustaya-adhikarinam - For those fit people who are endowed with the Four-fold qualities, moksha-sadhana-bhutam - that which is the means for attaining total freedom (moksha), tattva-viveka-prakaram - the exact kind of discrimination required (for the realization of Truth), vakshyamah - I will expound.

I will hereby expound, the exact kind of discrimination required for the realization of Truth, which is a means to attain total freedom or liberation, for those fit people who are endowed with the required Four-fold qualities.

A clear goal, firm resolve, awareness of the kind of audience being addressed, and also the awareness of the importance of objective to be thereby attained - are the hallmark of all great authors. Such a state of mind provides the best of motivation and channelisation of energy which inevitably culminates in success of their endeavor. In the opening statement of the text Sri Sankara starts by stating very clearly the Anubandha Chatustaya once again. Earlier they were indicated in the invocatory verse also. The four-fold requisites of any text which provide a circumference for its operation are stated here in a more detailed way. They were adhikari (the student), visaya (subject matter), prayojana (purpose), and sambandha (the relation between the visaya & prayojana).

Regarding the adhikari, the Acharya had earlier said that I am going to expound the 'knowledge of Truth' for those who are mumukshu, now he elaborates and says that the real mumukshu is one who is endowed with four-fold qualities. For such people I will reveal that discrimination which will culminate in attainment of liberation. Thus the visaya and prayojana are clearly stated once again. The sambandha here is the direct relation between the visaya & prayojana. The mere knowledge of truth leads one to moksha. There are two kinds of sambandha's possible between knowledge and the subsequent goal to be attained by it. They are :

1. Chodya-chodaka sambandha (CCS), and

2. Pratipadya-pratipadaka sambandha (PPS).

The CCS is seen in all objective or worldly knowledge's. Here the goal is not attained directly by the mere knowledge of an object. Having got the knowledge we are better informed & prepared to go about attaining our cherished goal. The knowledge helps in bringing about great enthusiasm in us to undertake that endeavor. Chodya means the goal for which motivation is brought about, and chodaka means that which motivates, informs & prepares. The knowledge of agriculture just prepares us to undertake the work of a farmer properly. The crop doesnít grow merely by knowledge of agriculture. Thus in CCS, action always comes in between the knowledge and the goal. The beauty of knowledge is thus seen in our ability to perform our actions well. An action nicely performed brings about better results.

The PPS is however completely different. Here no action whatsoever is required for attaining our cherished goal. The mere knowledge helps us attain the goal. Such a sambandha is only seen in cases where the thing to be attained is already with us, but just out of ignorance appears unattained. I have my specs on my forehead but just out of forgetfulness I search it all over, then someone comes and tells me that the specs are right on my forehead. This statement brings a knowledge which helps me 'attain' that specs, without any action on my part. In the case of knowledge of Self or truth, the PPS alone can be applicable, for the simple reason that the 'object' to be attained is already attained. Pratipadya means 'that which is to be revealed', while pratipadaka means 'that which reveals'. The moment we catch the real implication of the words of shastra, that very moment the Truth is as though attained.

It is extremely important to know that in the case of knowledge of Self, PPS alone is applicable. The implication of this is that here the knowledge alone becomes important. Action have in fact no role to play here. They had a role only in preparing the mind. If some one thinks that after getting knowledge one has to perform some actions or sadhana, then the knowledge in such cases is being taken to have CCS with the goal. As all actions are possible in a state of fragmentation of the seeker and sought, & the attention of the seeker is always turned to the sought, therefore such a person will always miss the boat. By stating that here in this knowledge the relationship of visaya & prayojana is PPS, it amounts to saying that give all what you have to get the knowledge properly, this alone is the means, nothing needs to be done later. If some one has studied scriptures and yet feels that he or she is yet to awake, then what has to be done now is not some other action, but again taking up that text and going through it once again, till the real implication is caught. Such should be the importance of knowledge of scriptures in our minds, then alone it blesses us.

Having stated that for the students endowed with four-fold qualities I start the knowledge of truth, the obvious question which comes up in our mind is regarding these four-fold qualities. This will be taken up next.

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Lesson 3

(The two kinds of Sambandha)

Further to the resolve of the teacher that he is going to expound, the exact kind of discrimination required for the realization of Truth, which is a means to attain total freedom, for those who are endowed with the required four-fold qualities, the student raises the next obvious question :

What are the four-fold qualifications reffered to by the word Sadhana Chatushtaya ?

The beauty of texts like Tattva Bodha is that alongwith giving definitions of each & every word, the main message & vision of vedanta is given without going into any dialectics. It is indeed an introductory text of Vedanta, and it is easy for all kinds of students, eastern or western. The Acharya here says 'anyone' who is endowed with these four-fold qualities is as per me a fit person to not only go into this text but all the vedantic texts, and vice versa, anyone who doesnít have these qualities will inevitably find it all very difficult. It is these four-fold qualities which alone need to be seen, nothing else.

This is indeed a very pertinent question as to why some people can understand the message of these scriptures very easily, while others just do not seem to get the proper wave length. Not knowing the real reasons the tendency to attribute the cause of inability to some superficial factors like varna, ashram, age, sex, nationality, religion, times - like this or that yugas, modern or ancient, or to people of east or west etc. becomes inevitable. So it is extremely important to know the right qualifications. If at all someone is facing some difficulties then the best way is to see what is it out of these four-fold qualities which the person concerned seems to be lacking in. If at all we continue to give this knowledge to a person without making this point clear, then two things are possible; if the person doesnít have great sraddha on scriptures then the person will brand the text or the entire philosophy as intractable, difficult or even impractical, or if the person has too great a sraddha on scriptures or its author, then he will start taking him or herself as incompetent etc. To avoid both these negative consequences it is extremely important that one should know as to who exactly is ready to go into all this.

Further to the question of the student the teacher first gives the names and brief definitions of these 'four-fold qualities'. The Four-fold qualities of the student of Vedanta are :

  1. Viveka : The capacity to discriminate between the permanent and the impermanant.
  2. Vairagya : Dispassion to the enjoyments of the fruits of one's actions, here or hereafter.
  3. Six qualities like Sama etc.
  4. Yearning for liberation.

Thus we see that there is no reference of various imagined criteria's of caste, religion etc. Whenever a student does to a teacher to get this knowledge of truth, then the teachers do not ask for any bio-data etc., he only looks for these above qualifications. Whosoever has them is accepted, while others are given guidance to first bring these qualities in them.

The obvious question that would arise here is, why then is there so much stress on ones varna or the caste. This varna is only to help us discover our field of activity in accordance with our inner inclinations. Inculcation of sattvic attitude is best possible when the activity is in line with our inner coloring. Once the mind has been made sattvic then the varnas, yogas all have successfully completed their roles, and one should have the guts to keep such considerations aside. In Dharma shastra these considerations of discerning ones right field of work etc. have very important role to play, while here in Brahma vidya, the knowledge of truth, they have no role to play, thus we donít even find their reference.

Hereafter, the student requests the teacher to elaborate the meaning of these qualities a bit more.

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Hari om !

Lesson 4

(Viveka - the discrimination between the real & the unreal)

Thus having enumerated the names & brief definitions of the four-fold qualities, which qualify a person to undertake the journey to know the truth of himself and the world, the teacher now answers the queries of student regarding the in-depth understanding of theses extremely important four-fold qualities.

The first question of the student pertains to understanding the first quality, i.e. viveka. He asks :

What do you exactly mean by the discrimination between the eternal and the ephemeral ?

The teacher answers :

By the discrimination between the eternal and the ephemeral we imply, the conviction that 'Brahman (the eternal & omnipresent consciousness) alone is the one real entity, and everything else is transitory'.

The quality of in-depth discrimination (viveka) is the hallmark of human mind. It is his greatest asset. It is because of this ability alone that man has progressed to mind-boggling heights in various fields. Whether it is the field of science, business, defence, relationships or any thing whatsoever, the understanding of right or wrong pertaining to that field is what makes him a scholar of his field. By education also this ability to see through the truth & untruth of each field is strived to be manifested. Thus not only the power of discrimination is present in one & all, but is also unanimously understood as the greatest asset of human beings.

Discrimination is the ability of the intellect to see through a situation, so as to 'see' rice & chaff seperately without even physically doing so. A good investor can 'see' the profit or loss in a given situation, even when a layman can't comprehend a thing. This is his power of discrimination in the field of his investments. So also with the experts in all other fields. Thus in discrimination there is no need or question of physical separation of two entities or inter-mingled probabilities, one has to just see through the situation or object, and separate the two in our intellect itself.

When ever in course of ones life, a realisation dawns, that the genesis of all my problems is non-apprehension of the exact truth of life, that the real search starts. Not knowing that which really matters the mind subsequently apprehends that which is untruth as the truth. This further compounds & complicates the problem, and the result is eternal, never ending seeking, along with inevitable heart breaks and discontentment. This is called samsara. With this realisation starts the process of conscious endeavor to know that which is permanent and what is not. If a man really wants to know then he will know, because all he wants is understanding of that which is the truth of all that which is. He is not looking any where beyond, but right here in the present, outside as well as inside.

The process of identifying that which is eternal or permanent is basically a very easy job, because that which is the untruth keeps changing constantly and thus keeps declaring its ephemerality. This has just to be kept aside by affirming that 'this is not what I am looking for'. When thus the mind which has been crowded by so many mis-apprehensions is cleaned, then to identify and know that which is eternal is not a difficult job. The straight forward job of knowing the truth as truth does become extremely difficult for one who is yet to realise the untruth as the untruth. Our attention is alredy on untruth, and one should start from here alone. See the untruth deeply enough so as to appreciate this fact in its entirety that 'this is something ephemeral'. Donít be in a hurry to know the truth, first let the cloud of various mis-apprehensions whither. Then & then alone the 'discrimination' of that which is eternal and that which is not dawns.

In the process of this appreciation, what is subsequently realised is that 'all that which is percieved is transitory', and that light, awareness or consciousness, because of which this realisations are possible alone apears steady. A person endowed with this understanding is said to possess the first pre-requisite of a student of vedanta. It should be noted here that this viveka is not the end but the beginning of the study of vedanta. A person who already has this much understnding is best poised to go deep into the secrets of mind & self.

The conviction that 'all that which is percieved is transitory' and 'that which illumines all this' appears relatively permanent, is by itself a great leap forward, but is not the entire truth. Thus inspite of this knowledge the person keeps suffering though relatively less. Such people have become 'introvert' in the real sense of the term. Their fascinations for extraneous things gets reduced drastically, they seem to have more time & energy at their disposal. There is quititude in their minds and thus the intellect becomes all the more sharp & subtle. They can now become sensitive to subtler & finer things of life, and overall stand apart from the rest. This viveka is by itself a great blessing, but there is still miles to go before he can sleep. The thrust of the knowledge of vedanta is to there after reveal that which is the very substratum of the knower, known and the process of knowing. That substratum is not really an object of our knowledge in the ordinary sense of the term, for the simple reason that to know the substratum of the knower, we have to transcend this knower. We are no more a knower. With the negation of the knowership that which remains is that which is revealed as the truth. While in a fragmented state we may have turned inwards because of some understanding about that which is transitory, but are far from truth. This fragmentation has to drop for the unfragmented to get revealed, and mind you our ability to discriminate doesnít call for physical seperation of permanent and impermanent. Inspite of the apparent fragmentation, the person can 'see' that which is 'not fragmented'. Study of Vedanta makes this power of discrimination all the more sharp & clear.

As far as the requisite of the student is concerned, it refers only to his realisation that all that is dryshya, seen is impermanent, and that which is drg or the seer is permanent. Rest of the knowledge is the Guru prasad brought about by the study of vedanta.

This thus is the first quality of the student of Vedanta. The second obvious quality is vairagya, or dispassion towards that which is realised to be impermanent.

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Lesson 5

(Vairagya - dispassion discussed)

In the last lesson we went into the first aspect of Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti, namely Viveka. In this leson we will go into the second pre-requisite Vairagya. The definition of vairagya was earlier given by the teacher in a very brief way, were he had said that vairagya is 'Dispassion to the enjoyments of the fruits of one's actions, here or hereafter.' The student now requests the student to shed more light on this word.

Q. What is dispassion ?

A. It is absence of desire for the enjoyment of pleasures of this perceptible world or even of some future state of experience hereafter.

Dispassion is a very important and also a very beautiful quality. Strangely enough it is only with dispassion that you can percieve the beauty & also the truth of something. A person who doesnít have passion for some pleasures does not mean that the fellow doesnít have a passion for anything. He is passionately in love with the truth of life. Anyone who doesnít hanker after the pleasures got out of some extraneous conditions has some understanding because of which this outlook has been brought about. The perceptions of that individual include :

  1. The awareness that all extraneous pleasures are momentary.
  2. The input-output ratio of energy & the end result is extremely high and therefore the proposition is not worthwhile.
  3. All self-centered activities result in making the mind more gross & inert.
  4. With detachment there is possibility of love in relationships rather than dependence.
  5. There is greater appreciation of beauty and truth of something because of detachment.
  6. Detachment brings in freedom & fearlessness.
  7. Detachment brings anand.
  8. Dependence on extraneous pleasures amounts to affirming our sense of limitation.
  9. Discrimination of Permanent & Impermanent automatically results in changed perceptions regarding that which is impermanent.
  10. That which is permanent should be something which is already available and therefore something to be known and not to be got through by any action.

Whoever sees the above facts will be blessed with vairagyam. An important requisite for the student & aspirant for the knowledge of Truth.

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Lesson 6

(Shama - the control of mind discussed)

In the last lesson we went into the second aspect of Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti, namely Vairagya. In this lesson we propose to go into the third pre-requisite refered to by the name Shamadi-shatka-sampattih. As seen in the initial definition these six qualities starting with Shama come under this third qualification of a student of Vedanta. These six qualities were :

Shama, Dama, Uparati, Sraddha, Titiksha and Samadhan. This section starts with providing brief definitions of these six qualities. The first of the lot is Shama, about which the student asks:

Q : What is Shama ?

A : 'Mano nigrah' answers the teacher briefly. It means Control of the mind. Many a times this is wrongly translated as suppresion of mind, which is wrong. Control of mind is one thing and suppresion is another. While control implies that the mind willfully now works as per the direction of its master the intellect, while suppresion implies that the mind basically takes to channels other than directed & desired by the intellect, it has be be forcefully brought under reins. Such a mind will be waiting for a chance to again take to its fanciful flights and this certainly is not a quality worth talking about.

Our antahkaran - the entire capacities of inner equipments, can be divided into broadly divided into two category : the mind & intellect. Here the mind is like a receptionist, receiving all the stimuli, while the intellect is like the chief executive, which deliberates on the data or information received and then decides on the course of action to be taken. Many a times the mind which is not used to getting guidance from within starts reacting as per its own fancies. Such a condition is not a very ideal one for any spiritual unfoldment or even wordly progress. With a reacting mind all wisdom only becomes comparable to gold on a donkey, which is not of any use to him. Basically Shama implies that the mind now works as per the dictates of the intellect. Bgoth as though happily married. This is what personality integration is all about.

In Vivekachudamani Sankara says that when someone has this quality to turn back his mind from thoughtless preoccupations using just proper understanding & logic, and turn his attention thoroughly to ones goal once again, then this ability is called as Shama.

In order to practice Shama, one should keep an eye on all thoughts in the mind, and then bring about this awareness & understanding whether this preoccupation is justified to fulfill the goal which I my self cherish. Ideally we should ask our minds as to what is it which it really wants. Having discerned that goal all our attention should be on that goal alone - with full heart. A strong will-power is initially very helpful, but that is not the real answer. There has to be ultimately love & proper understanding of our goal. If this is not there then initially harsher means can be temporarily adopted to bring our faculties in order. Some devotional practices, tapas, or prayaschit etc are intially seen to be helpful.

The indications of Shama are a quiet disposition, ability to concentrate on the work at hand, greater enthusiasm to attain our goal, better memory, ability to feel what the intellect is thinking etc. This is an extremely important quality and has been very naturally mentioned first.

The second quality is Damah, or the Control of sense organs, which will be discussed in the next lesson.

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Lesson 7

(Damah - control of sense organs discussed)

At present we are seeing the third quality of the four-fold qualities (Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti), which qualify a person to be a fit one for realising the truth revealed in Vedanta. In this third quality come six sub-qualities starting with Shama. In the last lesson we went into the first of these qualities, namely Shama - the control of mind, and in this lesson we will go into the second of these six-fold qualities called Dama. This section too has a question and an answer regarding this quality. They are :

Q : What is Dama ?

A : It is control of sense organs, the external faculties of perception like eyes etc.

The control of sense organs :

Dama means the control of senses. As we saw in the first quality the word control implies that the said faculty is under direct control of the intellect. The ability to live & work as per the directions & convictions of the intellect without bringing into its own whims & fancies is called control. There is no question or implication of suppression here. It is simply acceptance of the heirarchy of intellect. Suppressions imply that on one hand there is a desire to go in a particular direction and another faculty has different rather opposite ideas. So there is a definite conflict, and the steam continuously builts up, ready to blow off the lid any time with disastorous consequences. In control there is no question of giving up ones any basic desires but working strictly as per the direction of ones intellect, with this belief that it will have a much more intelligent way to go about fulfilling its requirement. It is submission to ones own intellect.

The scriptural proof :

The Kathopanishad in this regards presents a beautiful & an appropriate simile of a chariot, where the intellect is compared to a charioteer, the mind with reins and the sense organs with horses. The most ideal condition is that when the reins & the horses are in full control & command of the driver. Thereafter any great journey is not only possible but enjoyable too. What is basically required is an integrated personality, where all faculties work in unision, otherwise the person becomes his or her own enemy.

The fulfillment of the freedom of sense organs :

The very question of controlling our mind & sense organs implies that we accept that both these faculties have some degree of freedom. Wherever there is freedom there alone is required some instruction manual, with its do's & donít's, to bring about optimum utilisations of the faculty, just like any sophisticated equipment. The freedom of sense organs should not result in taking a path which goes against our own wisdom & convictions. The freedom of these faculties fulfills itself only when the it helps bring about a momentum in the direction of our convictions.

The process of bringing about the control of sense organs :

Even though the sense organs do have some degree of freedom, still it is very much limited. Horses do have their own individuality, capacities & freedom, but we know that it is nothing as compared to the capacities of the charioteer, who has reined these powerful animals and drives them for his journey. The beginning of this 'control' begins with bringing about this faith that the intellect thinks, plans & works for the well being of the entire personality. It is not our enemy, but our best friend, our well wisher. A conviction has to be brought about that it is in our best interests to work as per the guidance of our own intellect. Having got this conviction some practices help us to bring about this submission & integration.

The role of vratas in bringing about Dama :

To begin with one can take up any small, simple thing, like eating etc. and see to it that we have the ability to live upto that resolution fully. Lets say someone resolves to fast on a particular day, which may preferably be something which some of our great scripture or ancestor has suggested. We thereafter just live as per our resolution. We need not try to discover any other so called 'scientific' reason for fasts or even a particular kind of food which we are or are not eating. The above reason is logical enough. When we are looking from the point of view of 'control of sense-organs' then it is not the item or day or sequence which is of much importance. It could be anything. The question of 'Why leave this thing alone during fasts ?' is not really important. This question will be there even if you take up anything. The important thing is to see whether we are able to bring about the supremacy of intellect in all possible matters & things. If some one becomes a diabetic then the intellect directs the person to resort to low-sugar & low-calorie diet. A person with full control of his sense organs can execute such decisions of our own intellect without any problems, while a person bereft of this beautiful quality will keep on slipping & compromising, and bring about his own fall sooner than expected. The Dharma-shastras provide us various simple practical steps to bring about this control & integration. Anyone who is seen to have the ability to live as per the directions of his teachers, scriptures or his own convictions is said to have this quality of Dama. The capacity to do sewa of someone is another great indication of having the control of sense organs & integration, because in such conditions the person has the capacity to live as per the likes of other or in other words the person has the capacity to keep aside one's personal likes & dislikes completely, only conviction reigns supreme.

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Lesson 8

(Uparama explained)

Continuing the enumeration of the third quality of the Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti, now we go to the third of the six qualities namely 'Uparama'.Earlier we had seen the earlier two, Shama & Dama. This section dealing with Uparama also has a question and an answer to it. They are :
 
Q : What is Uparama ?
A : The (external manifestation of Uparama is one's) ability to perform one's duties (enthusiastically, without any sense of burden).
 
Meaning of the word Uparama :
 
The word Uparama literally means reveling in that which is nearest to you', meaning your very essence, your Atman. 'Upa' word is used in the sense of that which is in fact nearest to you, and 'rama' means reveling. Uparama word thus basically implies that a person who has now come to know the existence of his divine, infinite & immutable Self. This knowledge need not be direct apprehension, but just a matter of conviction or belief will do to have the quality of Uparama. With this belief the person gets a new goal in life, 'feels good' about basically being 'that', goes around with his head held high, thinks & acts as though he already has that which matters, tries to get knowledge from all possible sources to directly know that and most important when it comes to performance of his duties then a drastic difference is perceived This is the aspect which the Acharya likes to highlight most. The difference is the newly discovered attitude of the so called 'Nishkama' karma. The fellow can perform his or her duties very easily, without any sense of burden which earlier was a normal feature. When we see that a person is performing all his duties so very smoothly, then it is easy to infer that the source of joy of that person is obviously something deeper & not extraneous. He can afford to ignore the up's & down's of life and still carry on with the same enthusiasm. Such people who have discovered a source of joy within themself and are not only unaffected by situations outside, but can carry on with their work with same degree of enthusiasm are said to possess this fine quality of Uparama, a quality which qualifies them for the direct knowledge of the Supreme.
 
Ways of bringing about Uparama :
 
Anything which can help you carry on with the performance of your duties without depending on their possible returns are the ways by which this quality can be manifested in us. Anything which does not affect our enthusiasm yet does not bring dependence is the way to get it. Thus devotion to Lord is a very important means to help us get Uparama. A devotee looks upon the work field as the wish of his beloved Lord so he performs all his duties enthusiastically, yet does not personally depend on things outside. His joy is in remembering his beloved, thinking about him or even having an opportunity to execute his wish.
 
Apart from Bhakti, knowledge of Vedanta also brings about this quality. With the Sravana of Vedantic scriptures as this knowledge trickles down that 'I am that' then all limitations, insecurities & dependence drop. Work field is just a place to make the mind all the more Sattvic. So Nishkama Karma is the natural outcome.

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Lesson 9

(Titiksha explained)

Continuing the enumeration of the third quality of the Sadhana Chatushtaya Sampatti, now we go to the fourth of the six qualities namely 'Titiksha'. Earlier we had seen Shama, Dama & Uparama.

Q : What is Titiksha ?

A : It is the ability to endure the pairs of opposites like heat & cold, pleasure & pain etc.

Titiksha or endurance is a great quality to have. Everyman has to shield him or herself from various inevitable pairs of opposites. The usual method is to try to minimize the possibility of such experiences. This is not really worthwhile, because that process not only showes us into an artificial world, but also restricts our movement & freedom. There is constant fear of having to face any such eventuality. On the other hand man has another better alternative. It is increasing the endurance power within us, in our body & mind. We can always exercise the first option anytime & to any extent, but increasing the endurance power should always be preferred and this requires some extra hard work. It amounts to getting stronger & mature.

Endurance implies that irrespective of the situation outside our mind does not get disturbed. We should be able to remain undisturbed by small pinpricks of life, as though nothing has happened. Acceptance but that also without any grudge or helplessness. This alone is the test of having Titiksha. The way of increasing endurance is only by slowly exposing yourself more to what to fear & lack, but slowly. Human or for that matter physical body of any living being has a remarkable ability to adjust & acclimatize. It is indeed remarkable that man lives comfortably in all kinds of environs, deserts, snow-clad mountains, forests, wet lands or dry places. The fellow gets adjusted anywhere. His adjustability is fantastic. This however is latent in most of the cases and one has to work hard to manifest it.

The logic used to manifest Titiksha is the realisation of the ephemerality of all perceptible objects. Everything is in the realm of change, and if we learn to wait for a while the situation changes by itself. One can easily use this phrase that 'Even this will pass away' for all situations.

Titiksha at the level of mind however does not merely come about by greater exposure but with greater understanding & maturity. Even though greater exposure is a great education by itself, but is not enough. Ultimately it has to be realised that happiness & sorrow are 'subjective evaluation & reaction' rather than 'objective facts'. One person is happy in one situation while the other is miserable. So it is not anything objective. Just because there is a situation which is not favourable there is no reason why we should lose our cool. In fact that time requires all the more alert & equanimous mind. With the ability to retain our cool we gaurd our freedom. With the balanced mind we act while with the disurbed react - helplessly.

With the ability to retain our balance we can not only observe a situation properly but also go deep into it. This is a great & extremely important quality. It is just beyond imagination of a ordinary person to imagine the implicetions of being free of various pin pricks. It will be literally a mini-revolution.

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Lesson 10

(Sraddha explained)

The last two of the six qualities enumerated under Shama etc Sampatti are Sraddha & Samadhanam. In this lesson we shall discuss Sraddha. Regarding Sraddha the Question & Answer which come up in Tattva Bodha are :

Q : What is the nature of Sraddha ?

A : Faith in the words of Guru, and Scriptures is Sraddha.

Sraddha is a very important quality. It implies a Faith in our Teacher and our Scriptures. There is an attitude in the mind that they are basically right. In the beginning we may not know today as to how a particular statement is being uttered but something tells me that they are right. It is with this 'faith' that we work hard to understand what the Guru & Scriptures are revealing. Unless we have such a positive & respectful attitude towards anything, we will never even consider that object to be 'worthy of enquiry'.

Faith is that attitude in us which makes the object of our faith 'worthy of enquiry', and that also with an open mind. Faith should always lead us to better, deeper & complete understanding of the thing of our belief. That belief which does not bring about concerted efforts to understand whatever we believe in, is blind Faith. Blind belief does not help, while those blessed with Sraddha finally do attain direct knowledge.

Every person whether he is a believer or a non-believer has Sraddha towards someone or something. Starting from our parents, we just believe various people. Later you just believe your friends, brothers , sisters, husband, wife, or even a a chef. Whatever the fellow gives we eat, with full faith, that it is all right. We have faith even on brand names and such worldly things. We have faith towards our goals, that having attained that I will be contended. We may have faith in a particular methodology. Like our faith is scientific systems. It is because of this we gulp down anything which is given to us in the name of science. Because of this profound faith we just cant imagine that there could be some limitation in this methodology too. We just believe. We can thus go on & on. Lord Krishna says in the 17th Chapter of Gita that Sraddha is the basis of every human psyche. He further elaborates there that what ever is the nature of our basic Sraddha, so alone is our personality finally molded & carved, because it is for those things alone that we desire, cherish & work.

Sraddha is always prior to direct knowledge. In fact only when we have respect for anything that we work for that thing, and thus it has been rightly said that 'Only those people who have Sraddha can attain 'direct knowledge' (Gita Ch 4). Having got direct knowledge of something then there is no role of 'believing' in that. Belief has fulfilled itself. In all subjective & even subtle worldly matters it is only 'when you believe it that you see it'.

Sraddha about any thing is brought about in any mind by 'constant & positive exposure'. This is what all the advertisers do. They see to it that their product is positively & constantly exposed to their target crowd. Once this thing is achieved then we unconsciously enjoying the awareness of the object. And slowly as the association increases & intensifies then we have a 'positive exposure'. Thereafter the seed has been implanted in our minds and we keep watering the sprout and bring about desire of that object, and thus get gravitated in that direction. All the sixteen Samskaras which are given to a Hindu during his various stages of life are deliberate attempts to bring about some 'positive exposure' towards something. So Sraddha is something which is the basis of all activities, thoughts & in fact the whole personality.

It is noteworthy to see here that Sraddha is not suggested towards anything or person, but only towards our teacher & scriptures. If we just start believing just anyone then the possibility of being taken on a trip is always there. So believe thoroughly in scriptures & your Guru and not just any Tom, Dick or Harry. As Sraddha basically should take us to greater Enquirer & understanding that one should take ones own time to start this favorable relationship with our teachers & scriptures. Sraddha if it is very intense can help bring about the same experience which is brought about by direct experience of an object. Thus the birds start chirping even before the sun rises. So with this beautiful quality in you too can start singing the songs much before the enlightenment takes place. It is such an important quality that do anything in your capacity to bring about this belief in your Guru & Scriptures. If need be pray for it. It is worth it.

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Lesson 11

(Samadhanam explained)

The last of the six qualities enumerated under Shama etc.Sampatti is Samadhanam. In this lesson we shall discuss this quality. Regarding Samadhanam the Question & Answer which come up in Tattva Bodha are as under :

Q : What is Samadhanam ?

A : It is the ability to fix one's mind on some thing.

Samadhanam is concentration with a difference. Samadhanam is something more than concentration. The difference is that in the latter it is just focussing the attention on one thing but the former is more dynamic. In Samadhanam both our emotions and understanding are also involved and thus it results in bringing about greater joy & better understanding of the 'object' of our attention. The mind is quiet & at peace, yet fully awake & dynamic.

Samadhanam is brought about by the a combined effort of 'having clarity of our goal', 'having love for our goal', and 'practice of Japa'. If a person is not clear about his / her exact goal which also brings about great enthusiasm in his mind, then this quality can never be understood. A person with this quality not only can understand what the teacher is talking about but also directly 'see' the thing. It indicates an integrated mind. Normally our emotions are not where our convictions are. A person at work maybe putting his / her mind at the work at hand but his love is generally somewhere else. It is this divide which reduces our efficiency, productivity and also sustains the lingering discontent. If a person can turn all his faculties on the thing at hand then, with this integrated state of mind not only there is greater satisfaction & joy at everything which one is doing, increase the efficiency & productivity manifold, but also invoke the intuitive power of understanding something properly. This training helps one to live every moment of life thoroughly.

The exercise of Japa is an exercise of concentration, invoking & increasing love for Lord, but the most important to integrate all our faculties. The ability to concentrate is the basic requisite in all our endeavors. Whether it is worldly activities or realisation of the truth within we should have the ability to turn our entire attention wholeheartedly on one thing and keep at it till we understand & feel that thing properly. A person with Samadhanam has this ability. It is not difficult for such a person even to glide into the state of Samadhi - effortlessly.

Now, in the next lesson we will go into the last of the quality - of Mumukshutvam, of a person who is ready to directly realize his Self.

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Lesson 12

(Mumukshutvam explained)

The last of the four-fold qualities of a student of Vedanta is Mumukshutvam. This quality we will be dealing in this last lesson of the first section of this text. The question & answer regarding this quality are as under :

Q : What is Mumukshutvam ?

A : It is a desire that 'May I be liberated'.

The word mumukshutvam basically means 'state of the mind of a mumukshu'. And mumukshu is name of the person who is desirous of Moksha. So in short this final quality indicates to a 'state of mind' which is charged with the single pointed & intense desire for liberation. The brevity of teachers answer indicates the required single-pointedness & intensity of this desire of freedom in the mind of student. The definition doesnít say that 'May I also be liberated'. Such a person doesnít have any other desire in his or her mind. When such single-pointedness & intensity comes about then that person possesses this great quality specifically required for the subjective awakening within.

Desire is a fuel of all activities. It is a must as long as there is some thing to be achieved or even realised. The clarity & intensity of desire alone helps bring about the concerted & dynamic action. When we give all what we have for the attainment of something then alone success is possible. The saying also goes that 'Even God helps those who help themself.' Till the time a person knows the art of such concerted, single-pointed & intense application, till that time a person should preferably be given some other comprehensible goals and taught the art of thorough self-application. This is the role of the field of karmas. A person with such integrated faculties when turns his attention on his most fundamental problem, realises very quickly & easily that all his pursuits are basically directed at bringing about a subjective state of freedom & fulfillment. He realises that every pursuit is motivated & prompted by a 'sense of lack' within. It is this insuffeciency which makes us go on our trips endlessly. It is great to drive our cars on the highway of worldly enjoyments & pursuits, but the joy will be only when we know that we are driving willfully. The moment we realise that 'I am not driving', but am being helplessly driven, and cannot stop even if I want', that there is realisation of bondage. Only when we feel bondage, we know the exact nature of bondage, that we will have this clear goal of desiring for Liberation.

It is extremely important to understand the exact nature of bondage then alone the word liberation will make any sense and also become something cherishable & feasible. What is our basic problem ? Is this life a problem ? Is action a problem ? Is the existence of thoughts a problem ? Is relationship a problem ? The moment we attribute something as the real cause of our problems, thereafter all our pursuits will obviously be directed to handle & eliminate that cause. There are many who keep sitting for hours to eliminate all their thoughts within, because they attribute the problem to them. No, none of these is basically a problem, for the simple reason that those 'enlightened ones' who are free not only act, but also think and experience. So the problem is something still deeper. It is a 'sense of limitation' regarding ourself. This limitation too is only imposed or imagined bu our own minds. This mis-apprehension is neccessitated because of the non-apprehension about our true Self. Not knowing our Self properly we just take ourself to be something else, and thereafter keep trying to eliminate a non-existent problem. Because the problem is not basically there therefore none of the steps taken by us really helps us, and thus the story goes on & on. We become eternal seekers, the whole life gets wasted in solving imagined problems. To be a Mumukshu means to diagnose our fundamental problem, and thereafter with single-pointed aplication direct all our energies to handle or solve it. Mumukshu thus has a very clear goal. Know the truth of his Self. As Vedanta is the compendium of knowledge which reveals the truth of our Self, he dedicates fully & thoroughly to the study of Vedanta. This alone is his goal, rest is all secondary. He thinks of this, plans about it, reads about it, discusses about it, and works for this. In the beginning the fellow may not be very clear of the nature of problem, but as the problem becomes clearer & cleare, so also the intensity of desire becomes clearer. Thereafter he has no other goal. The fellow wants knowledge of Vedanta, and nothing else.

Thus a person who possesses these four-fold qualities of Viveka, Vairagya, Shamadi sampatti & Mumukshutvam is a person who is ready for the subjective awakening through the knowledge of Vedanta. He alone is the fit person for receiving this divine knowledge.

In the next section we will now go into the nature of the enquiry conducted for this knowledge.

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'Tattva Bodha-2' will contain Lessons enumerating the nature of Atma


OM TAT SAT