Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Is This Bliss?

Hari OM

'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. Please use the TattvabodaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.

पञ्च-कोशाः /pancha-koshaaH - the five sheaths, cont'd.

Today, we look at the causal body in the form of the 'bliss sheath'.

आनन्दमयः कः
एवमेव कारणशरीरभूताविद्यास्थमलिनसत्त्वं
प्रियादिवृत्तिसहितं सत् आनन्दमयः कोशः।
एतत् कोशपञ्चकम्

aanandamayaH kaH
evameva kaaraNa-shariirabhUUta-avidya-astha-malina-sattvaM
priyaadivR^ittisahitaM sat aanandamayaH koshaH.
etat koshapa~ncakam

"What is aanandamaya  ?"
"Established in ignorance, whish is of the form of the causal body, of impure nature, united with thoughts like priya and so on, is the bliss sheath. 
These are the five sheaths."

A small linguistic note before we proceed with study of the aphorism. You will have heard in the chanting that Swami-ji repeated the first line and it was different from the initial chanting. For convenience of the non-Sanskrit speaker, in the transliteration, each individual word is marked by use of hyphen; however, correctly, these ought to all be pronounced as one continuous compound. This is due to grammatical rules known as संधि /sandhi, "joining". It is mostly applied in these instances to group together related concepts. When approaching such a compound, what is generally done is to break away the words from the end. In this case 'sattvam' - that calmness, that nature. Next we find 'malina' - impurity/dirtyness. Then we find 'astha' - standing (with/in). 'Avidya' - without knowledge (ignorance). 'Bhuuta' - which (by association). 'Kaarana-shariira' - by now you must be recognising as 'causal body'.  This is how translation is made. Thus the long word is found to say that the True Sattvam (the essential calm being), due to its proximity with ignorance, which is manifest as the causal body, is subsequently corrupted and becomes less pure.

In similar fashion, the remainder of the phrase tells that this impurity is due to the Pure Self now mixing with the manifestations of the kaarana shariira, that is to say, such things as 'thoughts' and 'priya etc.'  प्रिय /priya, मोद /moda and प्रमोद /pramoda are three forms of happiness. The happiness is graded from moderate, through joy to ecstasy.

In another way, priya can be equated to anticipation of receiving some satisfaction, moda can be equated to immediacy of receipt or meeting the object of anticipation and pramoda is the maximum enjoyment of that person or object. It is these conditions, when the pure "I AM" becomes entangled with them, that pure Bliss of Sat-Cit-Aananda (unchanging truth-consciousness-bliss) which previously knew itself to be happiness, falls into the trap of saying 'I am happy'. Note the difference. Knowing oneself as happiness is to be the condition. Thinking oneself to adopt the condition leaves an option for that condition to be removed. 'I am happy' can so easily become 'I am unhappy' - because the condition has become dependent on objects separate from ourselves. Happiness itself is the pure condition. If 'I am happiness', how can 'I' be anything else?  Thus, aanandamaya is NOT pure bliss, but a conditioned bliss. This is how bliss becomes an upaadhi, a covering. The intellect experiences this earth-bound bliss and mistakes it. Everything is done to keep returning to that bliss. Mistaking the need, instead, to become Bliss.

When we go to sleep, we do not know ourselves to be in bliss, but when we wake, we are aware that we slept deeply and well and this we refer to as having slept 'blissfully'. A condition free of all worries and pressures of daily life. The trigunas, sattva, rajas and tamas do not reach that deeper self and, being free of their influence, our spirit is rested. However, due to the nature of sleep, it also did not enter pure knowledge. Deep sleep is still a state of ignorance, because we do not know it except by memory. Anything which involves वृत्ति /vritti (thoughts) is not our truth - though it may point to that truth.

Some say that we are given deep sleep to learn that there is such a condition as bliss and therefore something to work for! In deep sleep, we attain the greatest amount of sattvam existence that we can whilst resident in our bodies, but the minute we awaken, rajas and tamas are ready to rush in and fight for dominance.

Those who have been captured by the peace of sattvam, may find that they begin their journey in search of Sat, the root of all joy.

The Guru ends by reminding the shishya that this was the last of the five sheaths under current discussion. Now, think back to the sangraH shloka for this part of the enquiry… "aatmaa kaH?" The response of the Guru to that question was that other than the three bodies (can you name them now?!), the three states of consciousness and the five sheaths… there is Sat-Cit-Aananda. Something beyond all this. Something separate from all conditioning. That which is "I" is none of these things… is there some logic for this argument?.. We shall pick this up next week.

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