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Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Ananda and Anubhava :
Ananda and Anubhava :
=== (by Swami Dayananda Saraswati of Arsha Vidya Gurukul) ===
Atman, the self, is defined as Sat-Chit-Ananda. In this three-word definition, Sat is often translated as existence, Chit as consciousness, Ananda as bliss. It is obvious that these three words are not adjectives to Atman, for Atman is revealed by the Sastra by these three words. If they are adjectives, there are many Atman-substantives among whom one is distinguished with the special attributes of Sat-Chit-Ananda. If we say, “Here is a blue, big, fragrant lily,” all three adjectives distinguish the lily from other lilies without those attributes.
That I am is self-evident, but is this existence of the self time-bound?
If it is, Atman, the self, is like any other object. It has to become evident. Every object becomes evident to the self. The existence of the self is evident.
To whom does it become evident?
It has to be evident only to the self. When the existence of the Self is evident to the Self, it is understood as self-evident. In fact, the Sastra presents the Atman as Satyam, self-existence, and everything else, including the knowing subject, as one whose existence is drawn from the existence of Atman. This self-existent Atman has got to be self-evident. Otherwise, there is no way of recognizing the existence of the self. So this self-evident nature is what is indicated by the second word cit consciousness. Every evidence being knowledge, there is the presence of consciousness.
The self-existent Atman is in the form of consciousness revealing itself. The nature of sat is consciousness and the nature of consciousness is sat. The third word, Ananda, must have the same status as sat and cit, since it is a word revealing the nature (svarupa) of Atman. If sat cannot be displaced by a thought, and much less cit can be displaced, how can Ananda ever be displaced by a condition of the mind ?
If Ananda is translated as limitless (ananta) there is no possibility of it getting displaced at any time. If it is bliss, it has its opposite, unhappiness, displacing it. So this word Ananda has really caused a lot of confusion in the minds of seekers as well as teachers (Acharyas). Sukha (happiness) and Dukkha (sorrow) are opposites, and therefore, they are mutually opposed to each other. When the one is, the other is not. When I am happy I am not sad, and when I am sad I am not happy. But the truth is, the self that is Sat and Chit sustains every condition of the mind (Vritti) like the water sustains every wave. Whether the condition of the mind is pleasant or unpleasant, it is sustained not only by Sat-Chit, but also Ananda, because Sat-Chit is Ananda.
The reason why there is so much insistence on the experience of the self is that that self is taken as a special experience of bliss. Even if there is a special experience of bliss, how will one recognize that it is the bliss of Atman?
In fact, the Sastra is very clear that every experience of happiness is nothing but a condition of the mind (antahkarana) which does not stand opposed to the limitlessness of Atman. The common experience of this happiness reveals that the subject-object situation does not oppose the limitlessness, the wholeness of Atman. The non-recognition of this fact commits a person to seeking such an experience [of happiness] as often and for as long as he or she can have it. That is the life of Samsara. The Sastra stops this pursuit by revealing that the Atman one is seeking is oneself. Ananda is never displaced by any condition of the mind, because it is the nature (svarupa) of Atman, like sat and cit. An unhappy condition of the mind is sustained by consciousness which is Sat. If this is true, it is Ananda that sustains the unhappy condition as well as the happy condition.
The word ‘anubhava’ is translated into English as ‘experience’ by a number of people writing on Vedanta. The English word leaves a lot to be desired. The word ‘anubhava’ means direct knowledge in certain contexts. The word ‘experience’ does not convey the same sense. Any experience is inconclusive in terms of knowing. One may gain certitude of knowledge from experience but experience itself does not constitute knowledge.
A mental condition caused by a sense perception or memory can be called experience, but one need not have knowledge of what is experienced. Emotional pain is one’s experience but the knowledge of it implies its origin also. Therefore, it needs a certain process of reasoning leading to understanding. I may see an object outside without knowing what it is. Seeing is no doubt an experience, but knowing is entirely different.
We often come across the expression Atmänubhava in Vedanta literature; the meaning of this expression is direct self-knowledge. Ätman is consciousness and its presence is never lost in any form of experience. In seeing, hearing, thinking, the presence of consciousness is never missed. The nature of Atman is consciousness, the content of every experience. Consciousness, the content of experience is recognised as Brahman, the limitless, a fact that çästra reveals in sentences such as ‘tattvamasi, that you are’.
Now, the compound word, Atmänubhava is translated as self-experience. Does the translation convey self-knowledge ? Certainly it does not. Many masters also say that the self is to be experienced. It implies that the self is not within the understanding of one’s experience, that it has to be experienced by some special means. If the self is consciousness, can the experiencer be independent
of consciousness ?
The experiencer is but the Self, while the Self is not the experiencer.
Similarly, the experienced object is also consciousness as is the
experience; it is not outside consciousness either. This ever-present
consciousness, the self, is taken to be only the experiencer, different from the object of experience. This duality is certainly a superimposition upon the self, the consciousness. Vedanta negates this superimposition and makes one recognise the self as being free from this duality. This recognition is self-knowledge, Atmänubhava or Atma-Jnäna. While the word ‘experience’ fails to convey the meaning of self-knowledge, it misguides one to a pursuit of gaining the experience of the self. When will this experience come ?
It can never come because consciousness is ever-present, in and through each and every experience.
" Om Shanti Shanti Shanti "