'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]
Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. Think again on the meaning. Seek to focus on the subject.
Now we begin the text proper.
We found, through the mangala verses, that the adhikaari is one who has established saadhana chatushtaya. Surely then, more questions must follow in order to satisfy the enquirer as to the nature of this study and the prompt has come by mention of the saadhana... What is this qualification? What exactly is this 'viveka'? Also, what is the Truth into which we must enquire?
(NB: the longer compound words, in transliterations will be broken with hyphens for ease of reading when chanting. There are no question marks in Sanskrit, rather the very words का, कः, किम् /kaa, kaH, kim are themselves the query. Having had Swami-ji's example for the mangala verses, please now use the gaps in the chant recordings for your own repetition practice.)
साधनचतुष्टयं किम् (?)
"What are the four-fold qualifications?
The capacity to discriminate between permanent and impermanent;
Dispassion to the enjoyment of fruits of one's actions here and hereafter;
The group of six accomplishments beginning with shama;
And the yearning for liberation."
नित्यानित्यवस्तुविवेकः कः (?)
Nityavastv-ekaM-brahma tad-vyatiriktaM sarvam-anityam.
"What is meant by discrimination between permanent and impermanent?
The Reality alone is eternal,
Everything else is ephemeral;
This conviction alone is the discrimination…"
Two are given here as the first is very straight forward. The four key skills of a spiritual student are the ability to discriminate correctly (viveka), to be objective and not emotionally caught up (vairaagya), to be self-contained by use of the six 'wealths' of personality (shamaadi-shatka-sampatti) and to have the burning desire to progress to fullest spiritual end.
Easy enough in words! It ought to be noted here that almost the entirety of vedanta for most people is the practice and application of the disciplines suggested here. Majority of the prakarana grantha are for that purpose only - including this very one. TattvabodaH is to a large extent an exploration of viveka, how to adopt it, what it implies and so on. Each text will build on the foundation laid by the one before it so, just as learning the multiplication tables in early school ensures easier grasp of higher maths, those who learn well the basics of vedantic saadhana can only reap benefits. Note the following for now (much elaboration will come in due course!);
Viveka does not mean that one becomes calculating and neither must it be used as an excuse for sticking to an idea or concept which can be demonstrated as erroneous by clearer thinking. True viveka permits the thinker to think more.
Vairaagya is not an excuse to become hard of heart or unfeeling. There are those who take up the intellectualism of vedantic philosophy and use it as a barrier between themselves and the world. This is a grave error. True vairaagya permits one to interact and have an effect upon the world, yet not be touched or damaged by it. For those who cry out 'how to be in the world but not of it?!', vairaagya is the answer!
Shamaadi-shatka-sampatti are six gems of wisdom for personal development. Taking up self-assessment and adjustment based on these six can have profound benefits. For now, simply list their names; shama (peace of spirit), dama (peace of mind), uparati ('holding in'), titiksha (forbearance), shraddha (faith) and samaadhana (meditative nature).
Mumukshatvam is, as already mentioned, that state of spiritual hunger which drives one on in enquiry, despite setbacks from within and without.
From this then, clarity is sought as to the meaning of discrimination and the shishya asks of the guru, what is this thing called viveka, determination of what is permanent and what is not? Thus viveka is a little more elaborated. In simple terms, discrimination is to assess two things or situations and make a decision based upon the information gathered. Such basic assessment is available to all animals; eat this or that? Chase this or that? Safe or unsafe?
Only mankind, however, has the ability to use this talent in abstract terms. We can use this skill to extrapolate much more than simple survival methods; it is used not only to understand means of living, but also a purpose in living. Mankind has a sense of the ephemeral and has, with his intellectual capacity, the opportunity to investigate the unseen. The assessment between two perishable things is referred to as anitya-anitya-viveka. Thus we are told that one who is truly seeking spiritual freedom will be able to determine that there is something which may be imperishable and thus we have nitya-anitya-viveka. The observant will note that in Sanskrit, to make a word into its negative, the prefix 'a' is used. Therefore 'anitya' is impermanent, ever-changing, and 'nitya' is the permanent, that one thing which never, ever changes.
Never, ever changes!
THAT can only be the causeless cause. Absolutely everything else changes. Be it the seconds of the day, or the turn of the cosmos. Change itself is a 'permanent constant' in life! With well applied viveka, however, we can come to know Brahman, That One upon which all change occurs, but which itself changes not.
The firm determination of what changes and what does not is called viveka. What then is this thing called 'dispassion'?
Practice your viveka. How? At this stage, ponder only on cause and effect. Effects can only arise by cause. The flame on your gas hob, or the light in your bulb have a cause. Think on the cause of that cause then… yes there will be the endless scientific, chemical and physics-based explanations, but now you are giving mananam to that which causes even those sciences to arise…