Chapter 22: The Supreme Truth

1-4. After Sri Dattatreya had finished, Parasurama asked again respectfully: "Lord, what further did that Brahmin ask Hemangada and how did the latter enlighten him? The account is very interesting and I desire to hear it in full." Then Sri Datta, the Lord of Mercy, continued the story: Vasuman asked Hemangada as follows:

5-8. "Prince! I shall ask you a question. Please answer me. I learnt about the Supreme Truth from Ashtaka and later from you. You are a sage; but still, how is it that you go out hunting? How can a sage be engaged in work? Work implies duality; wisdom is non-duality; the two are thus opposed to each other. Please clear this doubt of mine."

Thus requested, Hemangada told the Brahmin as follows:

9-14. "O Brahmin! Your confusion owing to ignorance has not yet been cleared up. Wisdom is eternal and natural. How can it be contradicted by work? Should work make wisdom ineffective, how can wisdom be useful any more than a dream? No eternal good is possible in that case. All this work is dependent on Self-awareness (i.e., wisdom). Being so, can work destroy wisdom and yet remain in its absence? Wisdom is that consciousness in which this world with all its phenomena and activities is known to be as an image or series of images; duality essential for work is also a phenomenon in that non-dual awareness.

"There is no doubt that a man realises the Self only after purging himself of all thoughts, and that he is then released from bondage, once for all. Your question has thus no basis and cannot be expected of the wise."

Then the Brahmin continued further:

15-16. "True, O Prince! I have also concluded that the Self is pure, unblemished Intelligence. But how can it remain unblemished when will arises in it ? Will is modification of the Self, giving rise to confusion similar to that of a snake in a coil of rope."

17-26. "Listen, O Brahmin! You do not yet clearly distinguish confusion from clarity. The sky appears blue to all alike whether they know that space is colourless or not. Even the one who knows speaks of the 'blue sky' but is not himself confused. The ignorant man is confused whereas the man who knows is not. The latter's seeming confusion is harmless like a snake that is dead. His work is like images in a mirror. There lies the difference between a sage and an ignorant man. The former has accurate knowledge and unerring judgment, whereas the latter has a blurred conception and his judgment is warped. Knowledge of Truth never forsakes a sage although he is immersed in work. All his activities are like reflections in a mirror for, being Self-realised, ignorance can no longer touch him.

"Wrong knowledge due to sheer ignorance can be corrected by true knowledge; but wrong knowledge due to fault cannot be so easily corrected. So long as there is myopia, the eyesight will be blurred and many images of a single object will be seen. Similarly, so long as there is the prarabdha (residual past karma) unaccounted for, the manifestation of the world will continue for the Jnani, though only as a phenomenon. This will also vanish as soon as the prarabdha has played itself out and then pure, unblemished Intelligence alone will remain. Therefore I tell you, there is no blemish attached to a Jnani though he appears active and engaged in worldly duties."

Having heard this, the Brahmin continued to ask:

27. "O Prince! How can there be any residue of past karma in a Jnani? Does not Jnana burn away all karma as fire does a heap of camphor?"

28-29. Then Hemangada replied: "Listen Brahmin! The three kinds of karma (1) mature (prarabdha), (2) pending (agami) and (3) in store (sancita) are common to all - not excluding the Jnani. The first of these alone remains for the Jnani and the other two are burnt away.

30. "Karma matures by the agency of time; such is divine law. When mature, it is bound to yield its fruits.

31. "The karma of the one who is active after Self-realisation, is rendered ineffective by his wisdom.

32. "Karma already mature and now yielding results is called prarabdha: it is like an arrow already shot from a bow which must run its course until its momentum is lost."

Note. - Prarabdha must bear fruits and cannot be checked by realisation of the Self. But there is no enjoyment of its fruits by the realised sage.

33-35. "Environments are only a result of prarabdha: notwithstanding they seem the same for all, Jnanis react to them differently according to their own stages of realisation.

"Pleasure and pain are apparent to the least among the sages, but do not leave any mark on them as they do on the ignorant; pleasure and pain operate on the middle class of sages in the same way; however, they react only indistinctly to their surroundings, as a man in sleep does to a gentle breeze or to an insect creeping over him; pleasure and pain are again apparent to the highest among the sages, who however look upon them as unreal like a hare growing horns.

36. "The ignorant anticipate pleasure and pain before enjoyment, recapitulate them after enjoyment, and reflect over them, so that they leave a strong impression on their minds.

37. "Jnanis of the lowest order also enjoy pleasure and pain like the ignorant, but their remembrance of such experiences is frequently broken up by intervals of realisation. Thus the worldly enjoyments do not leave an impression on their minds.

38. "Jnanis of the middle class, accustomed to control their minds by long-continued austerities, keep their minds in check even while enjoying pleasure and pain, and thus their response to the world is as indistinct as that of a man in sleep to a gentle breeze playing on him or an ant creeping over his body.

39-41. "Jnanis of the highest order are left untouched for they always remain as the burnt skeleton of a cloth (retaining its old shape but useless) after their realisation. Just as an actor is not really affected by the passions which he displays on the stage, so also this Jnani, always aware of his perfection, is not affected by the seeming pleasures and pains which he regards as a mere illusion like the horns of a hare.

42. "The ignorant are not aware of the pure Self; they see it always blemished and hence they believe in the reality of objective knowledge and are therefore affected by the pleasures and pains of life.

43-49. "As for the lowest order of Jnanis, these realise the Self off and on, and spells of ignorance overtake them whenever overcome by their predispositions, they look upon the body as the SELF and the world as real. They are often able to over-ride the old tendencies, and thus there is a struggle between wisdom and ignorance - each of them prevailing alternatively. The Jnani ranges himself on the side of wisdom and fights against ignorance until falsity is thoroughly blown out, and truth prevails. Therefore Jnana is indivisible.

50-57. "Forgetfulness of the Self never overtakes a middle class Jnani and wrong knowledge never possesses him. However he of his own accord brings out some predispositions from his own depths in order to maintain his body according to prarabdha. This is the conduct of an accomplished Jnani.

As for the aspirant, there is no forgetfulness of the Self so long as he is engaged in practising samadhi. But the accomplished Jnani is always unforgetful of the Self and picks out his own predispositions according to his own choice.

"The highest Jnani makes no difference between samadhi and worldly transactions. He never finds anything apart from the Self and so there is no lapse for him.

"The middle order Jnani is fond of samadhi and voluntarily abides in it. There is accordingly a lapse, however slight, when he is engaged in worldly affairs, or even in the maintenance of his body.

"On the other hand, the Jnani of the highest order involuntarily and naturally abides in samadhi and any lapse is impossible for him under any circumstances.

"But the Jnani of the middle order or of the highest order has no tinge of karma left in him because he is in perfection and does not perceive anything apart from the Self.

How can there be anything of karma left when the wild fire of Jnana is raging consuming all in its way?

Commentary. - Karma is inferred by the onlooker according to his own ideas of pleasure or pain-giving experiences for the Jnani, hence the previous statement that prarabdha remains over without being destroyed by Jnana. That holds true for the lowest order of Jnanis and not to the rest. The fruit is that which is enjoyed; Jnanis of the highest order do not partake of pleasure or pain. For they are in samadhi and that does not admit of such enjoyments; when arisen from samadhi the objects (i.e., non-self) are known to be like images in a mirror, and the conscious principle of the seer and sight is equally known to be the Self. Just as the images are not apart from the mirror, so there in no non-Self apart from the Self; therefore pleasure and pain are not alien to the Self. That which is not alien need not be traced to another cause namely karma (prarabdha). The ideas of pleasure and pain in others need not be foisted on to Jnanis and explanations sought - with the result of positing prarabdha in them. The Jnani never says 'I am happy'; 'I am miserable'; then why should prarabdha be imagined in his case? The least among Jnanis is apt to relax from the realisation of the Self and then he gets mixed up with the world at intervals when he appropriates pleasure or pain. The conjecture of prarabdha is significant in his case but not in the case of other orders of Jnanis.

The lowest state of Jnana is open to the doubt whether such Jnana as is obstructed off and on, betokens emancipation. Some agree that it does not. But realisation of the Self occurs simultaneously with the raising of the veil of ignorance. This veil is destroyed whereas the outgoing tendency viksepa drags on a little longer. Prarabdha runs out after yielding its results. No residue is left for re-incarnation; nor are there the other stocks of karma to draw upon for perpetuating bewilderment. His mind perishes with the body as fire dies out for want of fuel. In the absence of a body the Realisation of the Self must assert itself and emancipate the being.

There is still another class of men whose Jnana is contradicted by worldly pursuits. That is no Jnana in the true sense; it is only a semblance of it.

Difference among the different orders - Jnani - simple and Jnanis - Jivanmuktas - is perceptible to onlookers in this life. The Jnanis do not reincarnate.

Since they are found to be active sometimes or at all times, the onlooker requires an explanation and conjuctures the residue of prarabdha as is the case with ordinary men. Otherwise their apparent pleasures and pains would be as if accidental, which is not acceptable to the philosopher. So, all this discussion about prarabdha to Jnanis.

Srimad Bhagavad Gita no doubt says "One is reborn in environments consistent with the thought uppermost in one's mind while dying." The statement applies to others and not to Jnanis. As for Jnanis, the following are said in other scriptures.

1. Jnani has the root of misery cut off at the instant of realising the Self. It is immaterial for him if he dies in a holy spot, or in foul surroundings, remaining aware, or overtaken by coma, just before death. He is emancipated all the same.

2. Unmistakably realising Siva even once by a Master's advice, by scriptural statements or by inference, there could no longer remain any tinge of obligatory duty on his part because he is emancipated.

58. "Such karma is only a trick believed to be true by the onlooker. I shall explain this point further.

59-62. "The state of the Jnani is said to be identical with that of Siva. There is not the least difference between them. Therefore karma cannot besmear a Jnani."

"Vasuman had all his doubts cleared by this discourse of Hemangada. He had a clear understanding of true realisation. Vasuman and the prince saluted each other and returned to their respective places."

Having heard all this, Parasurama asked Sri Datta still further:

63-65. "Master! I have heard your holy words regarding Realisation and Wisdom. My doubts are now cleared. I now understand the non-dual state of abstract consciousness pervading all and abiding in the Self. Nevertheless, kindly tell me the essence of the whole discourse in a few words so that I may always remember them."

66-68. Thus requested, Sri Datta again resumed:

"That which abides as the Self is Pure Intelligence Transcendental being comprised of the aggregate of all the egos in perfection. She is Self-contained, and fills the role of Maya by virtue of Her own prowess. Being one without a second. She makes even the impossible happen and thus displays the Universe as a series of images in a mirror. I shall now tell you how.

Commentary: Perfect ego: Ego in Perfection: 'I-I' consciousness. - Some distinctive characteristics have to be admitted in order to distinguish consciousness from inertia. Consciousness amounts to a flash of pure intelligence. It is of two kinds: (1) The subject and (2) the object. The latter of these is dependent on the former for its very existence; therefore the manifestation as 'I' is alone admissible. 'I' is imperfect when it is limited to the body or other similar entities, because time and space have their being in pure intelligence, or awareness as 'I-I', which is thus perfect. Nothing can possibly surpass and yet it is all these; therefore it is the aggregate of all the egos. Nevertheless, consciousness is distinguished from inertia for the sake of preliminary instruction, so that the disciple may become conversant with the real nature of the Self. She is transcendental and also non-dual.

The self is the subject, and non-self is the object. She is also the individual egos falsely identified with bodies. She is Ego in perfection, while abiding as pure Consciousness. This is the nature of Abstract Intelligence.

This unbroken 'I-I' consciousness remains before creation as will, self-sufficient and independent in nature and is also called Svatantra. She turns into action (kriya) during creation and is called Maya.

Creation is not vibration or metamorphosis; it is a mere projection of images like those in a mirror. Because Sakti cannot be reached by time and much less broken up by it, she is eternal; so it follows that the universe has no origin.

69-71. "She who is transcendence, awareness perfection and total-summation of all egos, of Her own Will divides Herself into two. Imperfection is concomitant with such scission; there is bound to be an insentient phase which represents the aforesaid exterior or unmanifested void. The sentient phase is Sadashiva Tattva."

Note. - This is called Ishvara in the Upanishads.

72. "Now Sadashiva, also not being perfect, sees the unmanifest void (i.e., the sentient phase becomes aware of the insentient phase) but yet knows it to be of Himself - feeling 'I am this also'."

Note. - The sentient phase is called Ishvara; and the insentient phase is called Maya or Avidya, in the Upanisads.

73-90. "Later Sadashiva identifies the insentient phase with His body at the time of starting Creation. Then he goes by the name Ishvara. Now this contaminated Higher Ego, namely Ishvara, divides Himself into the three aspects - Rudra, Vishnu and Brahma (representing the modes of Ego associated with the three qualities darkness, brightness and activity) who in their turn manifest the cosmos consisting of many worlds. Brahmas are innumerable, all of whom are engaged in creating worlds; Vishnus are equally taken up in protecting the worlds; and the Rudras in destroying them. This is the way of creation. But all of them are only images in the grand mirror of Abstract Consciousness.

"These are only manifest, but are not concrete, since they have never been created.

"The Supreme Being is always the sum-total of all the egos. Just as you fill the body and identify yourself with different senses and organs without deviating from the Ego, so does the transcendental Pure Intelligence similarly identify itself with all beginning from Sadashiva and ending with the minutest protoplasm, and yet remains single.

Again, just as you cannot taste anything without the aid of the tongue, nor apprehend other things without the aid of other senses or organs, so also the supreme Being (Sadashiva) acts and knows through the agency of Brahma, etc., and even of worms. Just as your conscious Self remains pure and unqualified although it forms the basis of all the activities of limbs, organs and senses, so also the Supreme Intelligence is unaffected though holding all the Egos within Herself. She is not aware of any distinctions in the vastness of the cosmos nor does She make difference among the Egos.

"In this manner, the Cosmos shines in Her like images in a mirror. The shining of the Cosmos is due to Her reflection. In the same way, the individuals in the world, namely you, I, and other seers are all flashes of Her consciousness. Since all are only phases of Supreme Intelligence, that alone will shine in purity bereft of taints or impediments in the shape of objects.

"Just as the shining mirror is clear when images no longer appear in it, and the same mirror remains untainted even when the images are reflected in it, so also Pure Intelligence subsists pure and untainted whether the world is seen or not.

91-92. "This untainted Supreme Intelligence is one without a second and filled with Bliss, because totally free from the least trace of unhappiness. The sum-total of all happiness of all the living beings has taken shape as the Supreme One because She is obviously desired by all; and she is no other than the Self, which consists of pure Bliss, because the Self is the most beloved of every being.

93. "For the sake of the Self people discipline their bodies and subdue their desires; all sensual pleasures are mere sparks of Bliss inherent in the Self.

Note. - Spiritual men are known to lead abstemious lives, to deny ordinary comforts to their bodies and even to torture them, in order that they may secure a happy existence after death. Their actions clearly prove their love of the Self surviving the body, this life, etc. Their hope of future bliss further establishes the unique beatific nature of the Self, surpassing sensual pleasures which might be indulged in here and now.

94. "For sensual pleasures are similar to a sense of relief felt on unburdening oneself of a crushing load, or to the peace of sleep. Pure Intelligence is indeed Bliss because it is the only one sought for."

Commentary. - Bliss is Self. Objects are thoughts taking concrete forms; thoughts arise from the thinker; the thinker connotes intelligence. If the thinker be purged of even the least trace of thought, individuality is lost and abstract intelligence alone is left. Nothing else is admissible in the circumstances.

Since it is ultimate reality, synonymous with emancipation or immortality, there must be beatitude in it in order that it may be sought. It, in fact, is compact with Bliss, yea, dense Bliss alone.

How? Because, the contrary, (i.e., unhappiness) is associated with the exterior; it appears and disappears. Such cannot be the case if unhappiness formed part of the Self. Pleasure might similarly be said to be associated with the body, the senses, possessions, etc. However a little thought will convince one that these so-called enjoyments are meant for the Self. So the Self is that which matters, and nothing else. But every little being always seeks pleasure. Thus pleasure is the Self.

But sensual pleasure is quite obvious, whereas the Bliss of Self is purely imaginary, because it is not similarly experienced. The scriptures must be cited against this contention. The Scriptures say that all the sensual pleasures do not together amount to a particle of the inherent bliss of Self. Just as unlimited space, or just as consciousness is unknown when pure, but becomes manifest in its associated state as objects around e.g., a pot for fetching water-so also Bliss in purity is not enjoyable, but the same becomes enjoyable when broken up as sensual pleasures. This is the truth of the Scriptural statement.

One may contend that the Self is not Bliss but it seeks Bliss. If it were true, why should there be happiness in relieving oneself of a crushing load? This is perceptible at the instant of relief and similar happiness pervails in dreamless slumber. In these two instances, there are no positive sources of pleasure and yet there it is. This pleasure is however real since it is within one's experience and cannot also be avoided. Therefore it must be of the nature of Self. Still, this pleasure may be said to be relief from pain and not true pleasure. If so, why does a person awakened from sleep say "I slept happily"? The person has felt happiness in sleep. There are no happenings associated with that happiness; it is pure and must be of the nature of Self. Otherwise, even the worst savage of an animalcule would not relish sleep nor indeed long for it.

The question arises! If bliss be of the Self, why is it not always felt? The answer is that the inherent bliss is obstructed by desire, obligations and predispositions of the mind, just as the perennial sound arising from within is not heard owing to the interference of external sounds but is perceived when the ears are plugged. The pain of the load predominates for the time-being over the other natural painful dispositions of the mind and disappears at the instant of unburdening. During the interval before the other dispositions laying latent rise up to the surface, there is peace for an infinitesimal moment and that is the true Self coincide with pleasure. Other sensual pleasures are also to be explained in the same way. There is an infinite variety of predispositions laying dormant in the heart, ready to spring up at the right moment. They are always like thorns in the pillow. When one of them sticks out, it predominates over the others and grips the mind. Its manifestation takes the shape of an intense desire. Its prevalence is painful in proportion to its intensity. When that subsides on fulfilment, the pain disappears, and calm prevails for an infinitesimal period, until the next predisposition appears. This interval represents the pleasure associated with the fulfilment of desire. Thus every one's rush for enjoyment betrays the search for Self - of course, unawares and confused. If asked why no one seems to know the real genesis of bliss, the answer is overwhelming ignorance born of associating the pleasure with such incidents. The opinion prevails that pleasure is caused by such and such, and is destroyed on their disappearance. The fact is that pleasure is simply the Self, and eternal.

95. "People do not recognise the Bliss inhering as their Self, because of their ignorance. They always associate pleasure with incidents.

96-98. "Furthermore, just as images in a mirror are associated with objects, ignoring the presence of the reflecting surface, but after consideration are found to be dependent on the mirror and not apart from it, and the mirror is found to be untainted by the reflected images, so also the sages know the Self alone to be unique, real and untainted by its own projections, namely, the world, etc.

99. "The relation of the Cosmos to Pure Intelligence, i.e., abstract Self, is like that of a pot to earth, or of an ornament to gold, or of sculpture to the granite rock.

100. "O Parasurama! Denial of the existence of the world does not amount to perfection. Denial is absurd. For, it implies intelligence, and intelligence displays itself as the universe.

101. "The intelligence denying or admitting the world is there shining over all! Can the world be erased out of existence by mere denial of it?"

Note. - Here the point is that the Absolute is alone real and remains ever absolute, notwithstanding the concrete modifications which are no better than images in a mirror, not tainting it, nor existing apart from it. All are real, but real in their abstraction.

102. "Just as the images appear in a mirror and partake of its nature, so also the Cosmos is of and in the Self, and real inasmuch as it is the Self."

Note. - The world is not real as an object and apart from the Self.

103-105. "This wisdom in perfection is the realisation of all as the Self. Intelligence appears as objects by its own virtue, as a mirror appears as the images on it. This is the whole essence of the sastras. There is no bondage, no liberation, no aspirant, no process of attainment. The transcendental Conscious Principle alone subsists in the three states of being. She remains as the one uniform, absolute being. She is ignorance; She is wisdom; She is bondage; She is liberation and She is the process therefor.

106. "This is all that need be known, understood and realised. There is nothing more. I have told you all in order."

The Sage Harithayana concluded:

107-111. "The man who knows it rightly will never be overtaken by misery. O Narada! Such is the section on Wisdom, recondite with reason, subtlety, and experience. Should any one not gain wisdom after hearing or reading it but continue to wallow in ignorance, he should be put down as nothing more than a stock or a stone. What hope is there for him?

"Hearing it even once must make a man truly wise; he is sure to become wise. Sin or obstruction to wisdom is destroyed by reading it; wisdom dawns on hearing it. Writing, appreciating and discussing its contents respectively destroys the sense of duality, purifies the mind and reveals the abiding Truth.

112. "She goes by the name of Emancipation when clearly and directly realised by investigation as the one undivided Self of all; otherwise, She goes by the name of Bondage. She is the one Consciousness threading the three states of being, but untainted and unbroken by them. She is the sound, word and the significance of Hrim."

Thus ends the concluding Chapter in the most Sacred Itihasa Tripura Rahasya.