13) Then Maitreyi said: "Just here you have bewildered me, venerable Sir, by saying that after attaining oneness the self has no more consciousness." Yajnavalkya replied: "Certainly I am not saying anything bewildering, my dear. This Reality is enough for knowledge, O Maitreyi."

Maitreyi is surprised: "How is it? You are saying that It is an ocean of wisdom, a mass of knowledge, substantiality of everything that is consciousness, and now you say, there is no consciousness! When there is absorption of consciousness into itself and freedom from its entanglement with the elements, you say, It knows nothing. How is it possible that It knows nothing, while It is All-knowledge?"

The statement that after attainment of Brahman or Pure consciousness one loses particular consciousness confused Maitreyi.

The point to note here is that Yajnavalkya did not attribute Pure Consciousness and absence of consciousness to one and the same entity. Particular consciousness belongs to the individual self who is connected with the body and organs. This self is destroyed by knowledge of Brahman, which results in the destruction of particular consciousness. It is like the destruction of the reflection of the moon and its light when the water in which the moon is reflected is disturbed or emptied out. The moon, the reality behind the reflection, however, remains as it is. Likewise, Pure Consciousness remains unchanged when the particular consciousness which is ignorance is destroyed by Knowledge. The confusion of Maitreyi is because what Yajnavalkya referred to as particular consciousness was mistaken by her as Pure consciousness.

"You do not understand what I say," tells Yajnavalkya to Maitreyi. "I have not confused you by saying this, nor have I mystified you in this contradictory statement. Your idea of knowledge is misconstrued. You have your own definition of knowledge, and from that point of view, from that standard of judgment of knowledge, you seem to perceive a contradiction in my statement that after freedom from entanglement there is no consciousness in spite of the fact that it is an ocean of Consciousness."

Our concept of knowledge is well-known. It is not real knowledge; it is the perception that we usually call knowledge. The contact of the mind with objects in particular manner, under given conditions is called knowledge. But, this knowledge comes and goes according to the circumstances of the objects of particular knowledge of the senses. So, to us, knowledge means knowledge of something. This connecting link 'of' is very important.

Whenever we speak of knowing, we always say "knowing what?" So, there must be something which is known, and we speak of knowledge of something, studying something, awareness of something, illumination of something. Everything is 'of' something. Thus, we are always accustomed to connect knowledge with a content or object which is apparently external to knowledge.

So, Yajnavalkya tells us: Your notion of knowledge is involved in the concept of the isolation of the object of knowledge from knowledge, so that there cannot be knowledge unless there is an object; but what I tell you is that there is no such thing as knowledge of an object where consciousness is absolved completely from all contacts with the objects. So, you are not able to understand what I am saying. Why?

14) "For when there is duality, as it were, then one smells another, one sees another, one hears another, one speaks to another, one thinks of another, one knows another. But when everything has become the Self, then what should one smell and through what, what should one see and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one know and through what? Through what should One know That owing to which all this is known—through what, my dear, should one know the Knower?"

Where there is an object of knowledge, well, naturally it can be known. Where there is something other than the eye, the eye can see. Where there is something outside the nose, the nose can smell. Where the sound is outside the ear, the ear can hear the sound. Where the spoken word is outside the speech itself, one can speak about something. Where the thought is different from the object that is thought, it is possible to think. Where the object of understanding is different from understanding, it is possible to understand that object.

But where understanding only is, and the object of understanding is not there, what is it that you understand? If this situation could be envisaged for the time being, if a condition can be conceived of where the object of knowledge has melted into the knowledge itself, what could be the knowledge which one can be endowed with? That which is to be known has melted into the knowledge itself; it has become part of the knowledge, so knowledge is filled with the substance of the object which it knows, so much so, there is no more an object as such, how can you then say that there is the knowing of anything?

Because that 'anything' which you speak of as the object of the knowledge has become knowledge itself, so there is then no such thing as knowing 'anything'. Therefore, O, Maitreyi, I said no such thing as knowing exists there and it does not know anything. Sarvam atmaivabhut: Where everything is the Self of knowledge, what does that Self know, except its own Self? Who is to see what, where the object of perception has become a part and parcel of the process of perception itself?

Everything is known by the knower, but who is to know the knower? If the knower is to be known, there must be a second knower to that knower, and the second knower can be known by a third knower, the third by a fourth, the fourth by a fifth, and so on without any end. You go on scratching your head, you cannot know the knower. How can the knower be known? We have already designated the knower as the 'Knower' and you cannot now call it the 'known'. Therefore there is no such thing as knowing of Knowing, or knowing of Knower.

Knowing of objects only is there, before liberation. With liberation, that object has become part of knowing itself; It has become one with the Knower. The Knower alone is; there is no such thing then as 'knowing'. Therefore, as I told you, Maitreyi, it is not possible to have cognition, perception and understanding, in the usual sense, in that Absolute, and non-dual subject. Through what instrument should one know that Knower or Subject?

Where there is duality, we can communicate with each other. In that state we are all separate. But when the non-dual knowledge dawns, when everything is realized as the atman, who would speak to whom and how and what to speak? Everything is one in that grand experience. How can the Knower be known? In Self, there is no distinction between the subject and the object, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experienced. All dualities merge into One Self - this is the crux of this great passage. This subject is continued later on in the Yajnavalkya Kanda of this Upanishad.



[To be continued]

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