Aparokshanubhuti by Adi Sankara- Advaita Vedanta in a Capsule

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Ignorance
At present we are over-powered by  physical longings, emotional demands, intellectual perversions and absence of  discrimination, as a result of our total identification with them. The aim is to  get liberated from these fetters and try to be a master of our body, mind and  intellect. This text guides us in a scientific manner how to go about this  stupendous task.

Just like we have examinations  like CAT, AIEEE etc which determine the minimum standards required of a student  for pursuing higher levels of studies in the respective fields, Sankara  indicates here the four basic credentials required of a student before he  embarks on a study of Spiritual subjects.

These four credentials are 1.  Dispassion (Vairagya), 2. Discrimination (Viveka), 3. Six  treasures of discipline like the control of the mind (shad sampatti) and  4. Yearning for liberation from the bondage of ignorance (mumuskhuta).  These basic qualifications are called Sadhana Chatushtaya - the Quartet  of Practice. He is considered good for study of the subject of Vedanta who has  these qualifications.

1. Vairagya
Vairagya is the complete and  constant detachment to all sense objects of the world or of heaven.  A mind soaked in vairagya does not turn back  towards sense objects even unconsciously. Even if it comes across sense objects  accidentally it makes a quick retreat from them as one detests the droppings of  a crow. Vairagya is such an attitude of mind.

2. Viveka
Viveka or discrimination is the  capacity to distinguish between nitya and anitya. Only Atman (the  seer) is permanent (nitya). All others (the seen) are impermanent (anitya).

Atman by its very nature is  Consciousness which illumines all experiences in every part of time viz. past,  present and future. It is an Eternal Illuminator, a 24 X 7 Source of Power  Supply without any load-shedding. But the objects of the world which are  perceived by the Awareness or Atman through the instruments of body, mind and  intellect are ever changing and impermanent. The Awareness (Atman) is the  perceiver, a witness or seer (drig) and the objects of the world including  the sense organs, the mind and the intellect (buddhi) are the perceived  or seen (drisyam). The seen is finite and transient while the seer is  infinite, changeless and eternal. Sankara says that the one who has firm  conviction based on experience born out of contemplation and meditation that  Atman, the Self is eternal and all the rest is impermanent is said to have viveka (discrimination).

3. Shad Sampatti
a) Sama and b)Dama
Previous impressions that are  lying dormant in the mind as well as contact of the mind with the external  objects give rise to desires. Negating desires that always crop up in our minds  is Sama while preventing the sense stimuli to enter our system is Dama. Sama is  the control of desire that disturb the mind internally while Dama is the restraining  of the external objects from casting their sway on the mind through sense  organs.

c) Uparati and d) Titiksha
The condition of the mind where  it does not run after sense objects because of its withdrawal from these fields  is uparati. Uparati differs from sama and dama in that while practicing  sama and dama there is an effort to restrain the mind’s outgoing propensities, in  uparati the equipoise of the mind becomes spontaneous and no further effort is  needed for expanding it. The capacity to endure silently the vicissitudes of  life is titiksha.

e)Sraddha and f) Samadhana
To have full and implicit faith  and devotion in the Vedas and the words of the teachers (who interpret them) is  known as Sraddha, The single pointed concentration of the mind constantly  on the Truth, Sat, i.e. Brahman is regarded as Samadhana.

4. Mumukshuta
Firm conviction and burning  desire (a very high motivation) to know about when and how one can get rid of the  bonds of this world (birth and death or liberation) is Mumukshuta.

The four sadhanas enumerated  above are nothing but a course of personal discipline to attain to that state  of mind which will be capable of absorbing the teachings of a Guru and enquire  into the nature of the Reality. They are illustrated as under.

Endowed with the above  qualifications and after acquiring tranquility of mind through sadhana, a  person should strive hard to maintain the same by constantly reflecting on the  impermanent nature of the world and concentrate on the highest Truth till he attains  enlightenment i.e. liberation from the bondage of ignorance.

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