Posted by: adbhutam | January 22, 2013

ATMAN THE INFINITE BRAHMAN

In the  srImadbhAgavatam 11th Canto occurs the delineation of the 24 teachers a sage derives inspiration from.  One such teacher is ‘space’:

अन्तर्हितश्च स्थिरजङ्गमेषु ब्रह्मात्मभावेन समन्वयेन ।
व्याप्त्याऽव्यवच्छेदमसङ्गमात्मनो मुनिर्नभस्त्वं विततस्य भावयेत्॥

srImadbhAgavatam
|| 11.7.42 ||

antarhitash ca sthira-ja~NgameShu
brahmAtma-bhAvena samanvayena|
vyAptyAvyavacchedam asa~Ngam Atmano
munir nabhastvaM vitatasya bhAvayet ||

The sage should contemplate on the space-like nature of the omnipresent Atman, understanding that the Atman which is Brahman, though present within all moving and non-moving objects, is all-pervasive and detached.

The commentary of srIdharaswAmin is:

AkAshAcchikShitaM sambhAvanAdvayam Aha—antarhitashceti dvayena | antarhitashca dehAntargato.api munirAtmano dehAdyasa~Ngam ata evAvyavacchedaM ca bhAvayet | kutaH ? sthira-ja~NgameShu samanvayena yA vyAptis tayA | kiM maNiShu sUtrasyeva vyAptiH, na, vitatasya sarva-gatasya | tat kutaH ? brahmAtma-bhAvena brahma-svarUpa-bhAvanayA | tat tvam asi iti shruteH | nanvetat sarvaM kathaM sambhavati tatrAha—nabhastvaM tattulyatvaM bhAvayet | yathA nabhasaH sarva-gatasya na ghaTAdibhiH sa~NgaH paricchedo vA evam Atmano.api sambhavatIti ||42||

The essence of and the corollaries from the commentary is:

  • Space is all-pervasive and the Self too is.
  • The verse says: brahmAtmabhAvena which means the sage should contemplate his own Self, Atman, on the analogy of the all-pervasive space as  something akin to Brahman that is all-pervasive and not something finite.
  • The shruti support for this bhaagavatam teaching is: tat tvam asi, etc.
  • The identity of Atman and Brahman that is taught in the verse is the Advaitic teaching in the bhAgavatham shows that the Atman is One only and not many as there can be only One all-pervading Entity, Brahman.
  • There are not many Atman-s as this will be opposed to logic: there cannot be more than one Infinite Atman.
  • The Atman is ever unattached  to anything, asangaH
  • All sanga is due to guNa-s of prakRti and therefore there is no guNa in the svarUpa of Atman.
  • (In other words, sanga can take place only between two entities that are endowed with guNa-s.)
  • This is brought out by another verse of the Bhagavatam:     sattvam rajastama iti guNAH buddheH na cha AtmanaH
    sattvena anyatamau hanyAt sattvam sattvena chaiva hi 11.13.1 ( Uddhavagita)
    The Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tams belong to the intellect and NOT to the Atman.  Through sattva one should subdue the other two and subude sattva also by means of Sattva itself. There Sridharaswamin comments: If sattva, etc. are the very svarUpa of the jIva then the teaching (in this very verse) to be free of them would be meaningless.
  • And all sanga will be ‘wtih’ amAtman.
  • In other words, if guNa-s are admitted as one’s svarUpa, then one is nothing but anAtman, jaDa, (kShetram of the Bh.Gita 13th Ch.) and not the Atman, cahitanyasvarUpa (the kShetrajna)  This is because any guNa has to be a product of sattva, etc. of prakRti, which is jaDa, paratantra, dependent, on Brahman.
  • The scripture is not teaching one to know oneself as the anAtman but as the Atman which is infinite and free of all guNa-s.
  • Realization on these lines alone will ensure mukti/moksha in the true sense

Om Tat Sat


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