kosesvayam tesu tu tattadakrtir - vibhati sangatsphatikopalo yatha asangarupo yamajo yato ‘dvayo vijnayate ‘sminparito vicarite.
Just as by the contact of a red flower, a crystal glass looks apparently red, so too, this Self, unattached and unborn, when in contact with the five kosas (sheaths), appears to be of their characteristic individual nature. But when one discriminate intelligently and thoroughly, then one realizes that the Self is unborn and not attached to anything, since it is nondual.
If Atman, the Self, is unborn and not attached to anything, how is it that it appears to have no existence other than in the form of gross, subtle, and causal bodies ? Such a question would be natural in the mind of Laksmana. Anticipating such a doubt, Sri Ramacandra explains this phenomenon of delusion-superimposition.
A crystal glass is spotless and colorless; but when we place a red flower near it, the glass appears to have red color. Against a blue background it appears blue. When it tests upon a yellow tablecloth, it appears yellow. These colors are not its own. It has no color in itself. Yet, it reflects whatever color is in contract with it.
In the same way, while functioning through the five kosas, the Self, Consciousness, appears to have gathered to itself all the properties of the kosas. This apparent illusion created upon a substratum is called superimposition. The Self is ever unattached. That which is unattached can never get contaminated by anything; yet, the Self appears to be of the nature of the kosas (personality sheaths), in which, at any given time, it happens to function. When it is playing in the gross body, it appears to have for itself all the properties of the gross body – the body appears fat, lean, black, white, healthy, and so on. This gross body is called annamayakosa (the food sheath).
The subtle body consists of the pranamayakosa (vital air sheath), the manomayakosa (mental sheath), and the vijnanamayakosa (intellectual sheath). The causal body is called anandamayakosa (bliss sheath). In whichever kosa Consciousness functions, it temporarily appears to be entirely of the nature of that particular kosa. When we intelligently reconsider this situation in all its total implications, we can distinguish the Self from the not-Self. Discarding the not-Self, the seeker can realize his own ego as nothing other than the pure Self, ever unattached and nondual. This is accomplished by intelligent contemplation upon the great statement (mahavakya) “That thou art.”
This Self is unborn, ever present, and uncontaminated by anything that exists in it. Therefore, it is advaya; the Chandogya Upanisad confidently proclaims that the Self is one without a second. Only when it functions through the equipments does it appear to be many. This is to be rightly realized.
buddhestridha vrttirapiha drsyate svapna dibhedena gunatrayatmanah anyonyato ‘sminvyabhicarato mrsa nitye pare brahmani kevale sive.
The intellect comes under the sway of the three gunas; therefore, it has three states of consciousness, such as the dream state. Since the experiences in the three states contradict each other, they are by themselves illusions and they do not exist in this eternal, supreme, non-dual, ever-auspicious Brahman.
The intellect comes under the sway of the three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas. Tamas creates “veiling,” incapacitating the intellect to know the Truth. This nonapprehension creates misapprehensions projected by the mind, expressing themselves as rajoguna. When tamas and rajas are reduced, the mind and intellect enter into a calm domain of creative poise called sattva. The waking, dream, and deep-sleep states are thus all experienced by the equipments and not by the Consciousness, the Self. These three states are conditions of the intellect and not of the Self, which is the same Consciousness ever present in all the three states of vivid experience.
An intelligent person, however, can detect the obvious fact that the three states contradict and cancel each other. The security of one’s well-to-do existence in the waking state can, for instance, be contradicted by the object poverty in one’s dream. And the experience of both the waking and the dream states are entirely negated in the peaceful state of deep sleep.
Truth is something that cannot be contradicted at any time or at any place. That which can be contradicted is false; it is an illusion, a delusion. The Self is never contradicted in the three periods of time. In the Self, which is beyond the three bodies, the five kosas, and the three states – in the pure, nondual Self, the individuality as we now experience it can never be. Recognizing all these as the not-Self, reject them all and be in the pure state of the blissful Self.
dehendriyapranamanascidatmanam sanghadajasram parivartate dhiyah vrttistamomulatayajnalaksana yavadbhavettavadasau bhavodbhavah
The inner equipments, presided over by the Self, come to identify with the body, the sense organs, prana, the mind, and so on. This complex makes the intellect dance in endless thoughts. Because thoughts stem forth from tamas, they are of the nature of ignorance. As long as the intellect remains, so long remains this birth in samsara.
In the Self, in pure Consciousness, there is no perception of plurality, as it is one without a second. Consciousness has no senses to perceive, no mind to feel, nor an intellect to think. But when the inner equipments are presided over by Consciousness and Consciousness floods through that complex, perceptions and feelings start and the intellect is made to dance to their tunes. Electricity by itself does not produce light or heat or sound, but explodes into expression when it functions through various equipments – a bulb, a heater, or a radio. The play of dancing thoughts springs from nonapprehension of Reality (tamas), creating all misapprehensions (rajas). Thus tamas creates rajas; that is, nonapprehension (tamas) creates all misapprehensions (rajas).
As long as thoughts are dancing in the mind and our attention is dissipated into the world outside, so long the world of plurality appears to be real. The seeker who is thus perceiving plurality maintains an ego-sense (jiva-bhavana). This limited ego must necessarily get tossed about helplessly in the midst of its endless imaginations and fancied experience of joy and sorrow. The experiencer can only experience the miserable world of plurality and cannot comprehend, nor ever spiritually apprehend, the one Self, the One without a second. Only when the sense of individuality gets merged in the higher state of Consciousness can the world of perceived plurality totally cease to persecute the individual ego.
Until we discover the rope, the imagined serpent-in-the-rope, with its dreadful fangs, will frighten th deluded.
netipramanena nirakrtakhilo hrda samasvaditacidghanamrtah tyajedasesam jagadattasadrasam pitva yathambhah prajahati tatphalam.
After rejecting all the equipments with the help of the famous scriptural statement “Not this, not this” and experiencing the immortal, changeless mass of pure Consciousness in his heart, the wise man, having enjoyed the existent, blissful Self, should discard the entire world, just as one throws away the empty shell of a tender coconut after having enjoyed the sweet water of the fruit.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad concludes that the outer vehicles of life are not the Self and thus indicates the pure Self through a process of repeated negation of the not-Self : When an individual, through the process of negation (“Not this, not this”) dismisses the entire perceived world and frees himself from all equipments of experience as well as the fields of experience, he – in his quiet, alert, vigilant mind-intellect equipment – comes to experience the state of pure Consciousness, Brahman, the Blissful. Thereafter, he renounces everything that was seen and experienced in the state of misapprehension – he rejects them all for all time to come.
Having enjoyed the pure Self, which is the substratum for all plurality (atta sadrasam), reject the sorrow-ridden names and forms, urges Rama. He brings this subtle idea to his dear brother’s mind through a simple but brilliant example: A traveler opens up a tender coconut. Having drunk of its ambrosial sweetness and feeling refreshed, he, without any regret, easily drops the useless, empty shell. So too, having experienced the blissful Self, with effortless ease and ready comfort, drop the delusory shell of names and forms that constituted the world of sorrows in your past.
kadacidatma na mrto na jayate na ksiyate napi vivardhate ‘navah nirastasarvatisayah sukhatmakah svayamprabhah sarvagato ‘yamadvayah
This Self is never born, never grows up, never decays, and never dies, It is not new; that is, it is most ancient, devoid of all attributes of the equipments. It is blissful, self-effulgent, all-pervading and One without a second.
In the previous verse, Sri Rama indicated that we must learn to enjoy the pure Self, the substratum of the pluralistic world, and having enjoyed this blissful Presence, we must throw away the pluralistic, finite, ever-changing world of names and forms, just as we throw away the shell after enjoying the delicious coconut water.
Since Atman, the Self, is beyond the intellect, it is timeless and therefore also changeless. It is ever the same in all the three periods of time. Thus, it was never born. It is not an effect that has come out of any cause. It is both changeless and unborn.
The Self never grows. If it was not even born, how can any growth or modification come to it ?
Neither does it decay. How can a thing that is not born ever come to decay ? Being changeless and immutable, it can never die. That which was not born can never die. And that which has neither birth nor death is infinite, permanent.
The Self cannot be called new because it was, is, and shall ever be. Thus, Rama uses a very forceful word, a-nava, “not new.” The Self is perpetual (sasvata) and most ancient (purana). These are the terms in which the Katha Upanisad declares the nature of the Self.
When we discover the gross, subtle, and causal bodies and their objects as mere whiffs of our delusory fancies, and reject them all by the Upanisadic technique of “Not this, not this,” what remains as the substratum is the Self.
This state of the Self is one of blissful beatitude. It is self-effulgent, all-pervading, and nondual.