TRIVITKARANA AND PANCHIKARANA
Before creation there was only Sat. Brahman alone existed. At that time, its inherent power maya did not manifest. Then, Brahman with maya made sankalpa (imagination) to manifest and maya manifested as these different forms. Maya from the unmanifest state began to manifest. Maya is dependent on Sat (Brahman) and so it is called mitya. Maya is inert. When it combines with Brahman it appears as intelligent. Maya has three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. From the tamo aspect of maya evolved the sukshma bhutas; otherwise known as tanmatras. These sukshma bhutas (subtle elements) undergo a process called trivitkarana and transform into sthula bhutas (gross elements). Trivitkarana is a process of transformation of the three elements agni (fire), aap (water) and pritvi (matter) from its sukshma state (subtle state) to sthula state (gross state). Trivitkarana is explained in the Chandogya Upanisad, in the sixth chapter, section three, mantras 3, 4. Trivitkarana is a process of combination of the three elements. When agni manifested, by its power manifested aap (water) element. By the power of aap manifested prithvi (matter) element. At this stage agni, aap, prithvi are in the pure and subtle state, which cannot be perceived. This pure subtle agni, aap and prithvi combine and become gross, then it can be perceived. This combination process is called trivitkarana.
Trivitkarana process is
1/2 portion of agni combines with 1/4th portion of aap + 1/4th portion of prithvi to form the gross agni element.
1/2 portion of aap combines with 1/4th portion of agni + 1/4th portion of prithvi to form the gross aap element.
1/2 portion of prithvi combines with 1/4th portion of agni + 1/4th portion of aap to form the gross prithvi element.
Trivitkarana is explained in Chandogya Upanisad. Similarly, when the pancha sukshma bhutas (five basic subtle elements) combine, it is called panchikarana. When the five elements combine the proportion of combination will change. Panchikarana is the process by which the five sukshma bhutas combine, undergo transformation and become the five sthula bhutas; this is the sthula bhutas which we perceive as the five basic elements. Panchikarana is explained by Sri Adi Sankaracharya.
Panchikarana process is
1/2 portion of akasa (ether) element combines with 1/8th portion of vayu (air) element + 1/8th portion of agni (fire) element + 1/8th portion of aap (water) element + 1/8th portion of prithvi (matter) element to become sthula (gross) akasa element.
1/2 portion of vayu combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of agni + 1/8th portion of aap + 1/8th portion of prithvi to become sthula (gross) vayu element.
1/2 portion of agni combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of vayu + 1/8th portion of aap + 1/8th portion of prithvi to become sthula (gross) agni element.
1/2 portion of aap combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of vayu + 1/8th portion of agni + 1/8th portion of prithvi to become sthula (gross) aap element.
1/2 portion of prithvi combines with 1/8th portion of akasa + 1/8th portion of vayu + 1/8th portion of agni + 1/8th portion of aap to become sthula (gross) prithvi element.
The pure and subtle akasa, vayu, agni, aap and prithvi combine and undergo transformation to become the sthula (gross) elements.
Now, the sthula pancha bhutas (five gross elements) combine to form different sariras (gross bodies). Whatever form we see in this world is the combination of these five elements. The sthula sarira shrishti are of four types. They are
Jarayujam – that which are born from the womb. Examples are human beings, animals etc.
Andajam – that which are born from the egg. Examples are birds, reptiles, insects etc.
Udhbhijam – that which are born from the seed, comes out splitting earth. Examples are plants.
Svethajam – that which are born from the moisture. Examples are bacteria, germs etc.
All these type of bodies are the different combination of the five gross elements. These sariras are inert. Brahman as chitabasa enters in these sariras and makes it conscious. Thus the creation goes on.
Trivitkarana and panchikarana are the process by which the sukshma bhutas undergo a process of combination and transform as sthula bhutas.
OM – THE SOUND AND SYMBOL
Whole existence is reverberation – vibration of energy. When there is vibration there will be sound. Where there is vibration and sound there will be creation. Om is the fundamental sound of the relative reality (creation). It is the basic sound of this creation. All the other sounds are the manifestation of Om.
Om is the combination of three basic sounds A + U + M. All the other sounds are the mixing of these three basic sounds using the tongue. If you notice we can pronounce Om or A, U, M without the use of tongue (we can pronounce by using only the lip movement).
In the Vedas almost all the mantras start with Om. Om is used in karma kanda widely. In Vedanta it is mainly used for meditation. It is used to represent saguna Brahman as well as nirguna Brahman. Om is the basic vibration of this universe. It is the divine sound, symbol and mantra. It is the beej mantra for universal Consciousness. More than a japa mantra Om is used extensively for meditation. Since Om is the basic vibration of the universe when we meditate on Om we can easily connect with the Universe. Mandukya upanishad explains a unique technique for meditation on Om.
Human existence is based on three states (avastas). They are the waking, dream and deep sleep states. These states exist in Consciousness, which is known as Turiya. Turiya cannot be said as the fourth state. It is the underlying state. All the experiences exist in Turiya. We are able to experience the three states because of Turiya. Turiya can also be said as prapanjopashama, where all the other experiences of the universe disappear. Turiya is that state where all the other three states merge and reappear.
Three states (avastas)
In the waking state (jagrad avasta) we come in contact with the gross universe with our body, senses and mind. The Consciousness or Turiya in association with the body, senses and mind experiences the universe in the waking state. In other words, the Consciousness (Turiya) appears as the waking experience.
In the dream state (swapna avasta) we come in contact with the world of impression in the mind in sleep. The Consciousness or Turiya in association with the projection of the mind is the dreaming experience. In other words, the Consciousness (Turiya) appears as the dream experience.
In the deep sleep state (sushupti avasta), there is no internal world or external world. It is experience of darkness or ignorance. The Consciousness in association with the non-functioning of the mind is the deep sleeping experience. In other words, the Consciousness (Turiya) appears as the deep sleep experience.
That Consciousness (Turiya) is expressed as Om. Om is the symbol of Consciousness. All the three states appear and disappear in Turiya. Turiya is not a mystical experience; it is the fundamental nature of man.
Meditation on Om
Now, the three base sounds in Om are taken for meditation. Only for meditation Om is split as A, U, M (as its base sound). For chanting and mantra japa it should be pronounced as Om. According to the sandhi rules of sanskrit, when you combine A + U we get only O
(that is A + U = O), but when we meditate we split by its base sound.
All the waking experiences are identified with A
All the dream experiences are identified with U
All the deep sleep experiences are identified with M
When we meditate on Om we must bring in to mind this knowledge. All the waking, dream and deep sleep experiences appear and disappear in Consciousness or Om. There is a small gap between finishing and starting of the next Om. That gap is silence. That silence represents Consciousness or Turiya. So all the experiences appear, disappear and merge in Consciousness and again the same process.
Thus meditation on Om is explained in Mandukya upanishad. There are no experiences without Turiya. We are not aware of Turiya. To bring one to that deep pure Consciousness is meditation on Om.
MAHESHWARA SUTRAS AND THE SANSKRIT LANGUAGE
Sound has the power to create and destroy this creation. Sound is the subtle tanmatra from which the gross space emerged. There are different levels of sound vibration in space. Some of them are perceived by human beings, some by animals, and some by birds and so on. Some people can perceive very subtle and high intensity sound vibrations. They have trained their mind for higher concentration and have yogic powers. They are called Rishis or sages. In ancient period, these sages were able to perceive very subtle and high vibration and they were able to record it in their mind. These sound vibrations are of three pitches (svaras). The three pitches are the high pitch (svaritha), the middle pitch (udatha) and the low pitch (anudatha). Later, the Rishis substituted these sound patterns with the letters of Sanskrit language that match these sound vibrations. Only the vibration of the Sanskrit language can match the vibration of these sounds. Vedas are originally these sound patterns and the sound of the Veda is known as vaidhika basha. Analysing the Vedic sound is called sabdha sastra. Later the Rishis converted the sound of the Veda into sanskrit language and thus the Vedic mantras are in sanskrit language. In the Vedic texts, Vedic mantras have a small line below some letters, which implies the low pitch. Some letters will have a small line above them, which implies the high pitch and some will not have any line, which implies the middle pitch. Some letters will have two lines on top or bottom of the letters, which implies the dhirgha, meaning the duration of chanting, which is based on the matras. These rules must be strictly followed while chanting the Vedic mantras. That is why it is said that the tone and pitch of the mantras are more important than the pronunciation. Vedic mantras are important for its sound.
Each letter in sanskrit has its own energy, like colour, form, force etc. When you chant a mantra combining different letters, a particular energy is formed, which is connected with the devata or deity. When you pray to that energy that energy will influence and transform our weak energy in to positive energy and our wish gets fulfilled. This is how a mantra works generally.
SAGE PANINI AND MAHESHWARA SUTRAS
It is said that sage Panini lived in the 4th century BCE, in a small village called shalatula, which is now in Pakistan. He was a dull and illiterate son of a great scholar called Pani. By the advice of his father he meditated on Lord Shiva. In his meditation, he was able to perceive fourteen crude sound patterns. These fourteen different sound patterns are called the maheshwara sutras. It is said that these fourteen different sound patterns emerged from the damaru of Lord Shiva. At the end of the cosmic dance, Lord Shiva rattled his damaru fourteen times in order to bless the Sanaka sages. This was recorded in the space and when sage Panini meditated on Lord Shiva he was able to perceive that sound. There is a definite sound pattern behind the organization of these sutras. Sage Panini formed the varna mala (alphabet sequence) of the sanskrit language based on these sutras. All the vowels and the consonants of the sanskrit language can be found in the fourteen sutras. Sanskrit language emerged from the maheshwara sutras. Maheshwara sutras are also known as “akshara samamnaya” (recitation of phonemes). Sage panini has mentioned about the maheshwara sutras in his famous work Ashtadhyayi, book of eight chapters. It is a sanskrit grammar rule book. There are nearly 4000 sutras in ashtadhyayi. It is the only grammar book which is followed for more than 2500 years. All the modern books in sanskrit grammar are based on Ashtadhyayi. The fourteen maheshwara sutras are,
Aiun, rlrk, eon, aiauch, hayavarat, lann, namangnanam, jhabhai, ghadadhash, jabagadadash,
Khaphachatathachatatav, kapay, sashasar, haul.
These are the fourteen very crude sound patterns which were perceived by sage Panini during meditation, and they emerged from the damaru of Lord Shiva. Sanskrit language emerged from the maheshwara sutras. Maheshwara sutras are also known as Shiva sutras.
HEALING POWERS OF MAHESHWARA SUTRAS
Sanskrit phonemes (sound) closely relate to the energy centers in the human body. There are nearly 72,000 nadis (energy centers) in the subtle body. Each point has a distinct sound vibration that matches the sanskrit letters. At some points two energy currents intersect and that point is known as sandhi. At some points three energy currents intersect and that point is known as marma sthana. At some points three or more energy currents intersect. These points are known as chakras. There are nearly 108 chakras in the subtle body. Among them seven are very important. All the intersecting points can be accessed by touching the corresponding points in the gross body. If one maintains the seven chakras then all the chakras can be fine.
Where there is energy there will be sound. At the center of each chakra a sound predominates and other sounds are centered on it. Each chakra is represented by a sanskrit letter corresponding to that sound. When we pronounce that particular letter, that chakra gets activated. Thus, the predominant sound of the muladhara chakra is Lam, swadisthana chakra is Vam, manipuraka chakra is Ram, anahata chakra is Yam, visuddhi chakra is Ham, ajna chakra is Aam, sahasrara chakra is Om. Each chakra can influence some organs in the gross body. When a letter of a particular chakra is pronounced that chakra is activated by that letter. Then the organs connected with that chakra get healed. However, when you chant the maheshwara sutras the entire body can sense its vibration and all the organs are benefited by it. When we chant the maheshwara sutras all the nadis and chakras get the healing vibration.
BEEJ MANTRAS AND SANSKRIT LANGUAGE
Beej mantras are sanskrit consonants. They manifest high energy. These mantras do not have any particular meaning, but when chanted they connect us to the different planes of existence. Each deity has a particular beej mantra. In fact, it is the direct address to that deity which is represented by that beej mantra. They work in the unseen planes of the universe. Beej mantras are the call of the soul to that plane of existence or deity or saguna Brahman. It is said that when the universe emerged, the power of that particular sound created that plane of existence. These sounds are detected as beej mantras. Different vibrations of sound were produced during cosmic evolution. Sanskrit aksharas (letters) resemble the sound of different planes of this universe, hence sanskrit language is said as the deva basha and it is a powerful language. Sanskrit language is said as imperishable because its close sound vibration always exists in space.
THREE TYPES OF REALITY
There are three types of reality as explained in Vedanta sastra. They are the pratibhasika satya, vyavaharika satya and paramarthika satya. In our life, we exist in any one of these realities for the majority of the time. Let us see each one of them with appropriate drishtantas (examples).
Pratibhasika satya is otherwise known as individual reality or subjective reality. Personal experiences of an individual like dreams, plans, imagination, thoughts, spiritual experiences, experiences from the sense organs etc are called the pratibhasika satya. They may or may not be real for others. In our jagrad avasta we mostly depend on the pratibhasika pramanas that is we mostly depend on our ideas, thoughts and sense organs. Individual decisions are important in life; they may be right or wrong for others. I may think and conclude on certain matters regardless of others feelings, emotions or facts. Many people misinterpret certain values or facts in their own convenient way. They may be right values expressed in the scriptures, but they interpret in their own way, mostly in a negative way. Even though we live in this materialistic world, most of the time we live in our world of thoughts and imagination. This is the root cause for worries and miseries; and this is called samsara. We superimpose our world of thoughts on the existing world of matter and we live in a world of asatya (our dream world). All these belong to the pratibhasika satya.
Vyavakarika satya is otherwise known as objective reality or common reality. It is the world of matter that we experience in our life. It is the materialistic world. It is otherwise said as Ishwara srishti (creation of God). It is the common experience of the world. This is the world of mitya and it loses its importance by knowledge. The common experiences of all people is called the vyavakarika satya.
Paramartika satya is the absolute reality or the complete reality. That which is true (satya) for the three periods of time is the paramartika satya; and that satya is Brahman and Brahman alone. Brahman cannot be realized by the sense organs. It is not explicit. One must do vichara (analysis) to realize the inner reality. It is the cause that does not change to give the result and for that reason it is known as vivartha karana. It is not removed by any pramana (instrument of knowledge). It is the satya and it is omnipresent. That eternal reality is the paramartika satya.
Now, an example can make us understand the three types of reality in a more clear way.
A man sees an object at a distance. First it appears as gold in the bright sunlight. Therefore, he thinks that it is a gold ball. He went near it to take it. When he neared it he realized that is a golden colour pot. When he took it and had a closer look, he realized that it is a clay pot which is painted in golden colour. In this example, his illusion that it is gold ball is the pratibhasika satya. It is only his thought and not true. When he realized that it is a golden colour pot, it is the vyavakarika satya. When he realized in a subtle way that it is only a clay pot painted in golden colour, which implies that it is only clay, it is the paramarthika satya. The clay existed even before becoming a pot; it will exist even after the pot breaks. It is the base, it exists in the three periods of time, and so it is the paramartika satya.
As said earlier, even though we live in the material world, world of matter and energy, for the majority of the time in the jagrad avasta (waking state) we live in the pratibhasika satya, the world of our thoughts and imagination. In order to understand the truth of the material world, we have to come in terms with the vyavakarika satya. Then to understand the reality we have to gradually shift to the paramartika satya.
In the world of pratibhasika satya, mind will be mostly in a negative state or it will be ignorant of the reality. To understand the paramartika satya, we have to clean up the mind and it is a two step process. The first step is the karma yoga and the second step is the jnana yoga. Karma yoga prepares the mind for knowledge and jnana yoga imparts knowledge.
One must concentrate on the duty and must accept the result with contentment. One must not justify failure or our weakness, by doing so may lead to future complications. Failure must not be accepted in a personal manner and at the same time success must not boost a person’s ego. Karma must be done for the sake of doing karma. Practicing sadhana chatustaya will remove all the negative effects from the mind. Bhakti (devotion) and self surrender to God are prime importance to attain jnana.
When the mind is prepared for jnana, one must do shravana(listening) and manana on Vedanta sastras. If the mind is not prepared to grasp the highest truth, shravana and manana will purify the mind automatically.
Sastra explains that everything, jiva, jagad, Ishwara (God), liberation, has three states of reality. Let us see each one of them separately and briefly.
THREE STATES OF REALITY IN THE JIVA
When a jiva is in his world of imagination and when his thoughts are projected by ego then he is in the state of prathibhasika satya. When the same jiva, discriminates himself from anatma and see himself as I, the Atma, which is separate from the world of experience (anatma) then he is said to be in the state of vyavakarika satya. When the jiva realizes that he is the Atma and not the anatma, the world is only an illusion set by the mind, then he is said to be in the state of paramarthika satya.
THREE STATES OF REALITY IN THE JAGAD(WORLD)
The world will remain the same. However, we view the world in three different ways according to our knowledge.
When we consider this world as the cause for our worries and miseries, then we have pratibhasika drishti on this world. Drishti means view. When we view this world as the play of maya and it is subject to change then we have vyavaharika drishti on this world. When we have complete knowledge and do not give any reality to this world and view this world as asat then we have paramarthika drishti on this world.
THREE STATES OF REALITY OF ISHWARA (GOD)
When we assume the Universal Consciousness as having a name and form, and consider that form as very personal, like Ishta devata or Kula devata, then it is the pratibhasika drishti on Ishwara. Pratibhasika drishti leads to pratibhasika satya. Pratibhasika drishti on Ishwara is the root cause for many religious fights all over the world. People try to own the consciousness which is Universal. People fail to understand the inner reality and fight over the external form. It is complete misunderstanding of the reality. When we have pratibhasika drishti on God, we pray to God and we have emotional attachment towards God. We feel that He is the dispenser of our karmic result.
When we view the Universal Consciousness as the creator of this Universe and He is the Ishwara (God), the combination of Brahman and maya, then we have vyavakarika drishti on God, which leads to vyavakarika satya. We understand that Ishwara (God) is the nimitta karana and upadhana karana of this world.
When we view Consciousness in its true sense, as absolute and infinite then we have paramartika drishti on the reality, which leads to paramartika satya. When we realize that the Truth is not different from us and it cannot be explained by words, then we have paramartika drishti on Ishwara (God).
THREE TYPES OF REALITY OF LIBERATION (MOKSHA)
When we think that liberation or moksha is going to heaven and enjoying luxuries or going to pitru loka or Brahma loka then it is called the pratibhasika satya of liberation.
There are two types of liberation in Jiva. One is jivan mukti and the other is vidheka mukti. Jivan mukti is living in this material world and leading ordinary life with complete knowledge that “I am Brahman”, and they live with this knowledge till the prarabhdha karma gets exhausted. Jiva is well aware of its true nature and after realizing he lives a detached life. He remains as a silent witness.
When the realized jiva leaves the body after the prarabhdha karma gets exhausted then it is called the vidheka mukti. He has no rebirth. By the power of his knowledge his sanchita karma as well as the agami karma is erased. Both jivan mukti as well as vidheka mukti comes under vyavakarika satya of liberation.
Paramarthika satya of liberation is that the jiva attains nitya mukti. He does not even feel that he once existed as a jiva with a body and mind. He feels that he is Brahman alone. It is the most advanced state of mukti and this is the paramartika satya of liberation (mukti).
One must understand every state of reality in a proper way. A common man usually exists in the pratibhasika satya. He must move to the next level of reality that is to vyavakarika satya and then to paramartika satya. By doing karma yoga one can elevate oneself from pratibhasika satya to vyavaharika satya. By jnana yoga one can elevate oneself from vyavaharika satya to paramartika satya.
These are the three types of reality as explained in the Vedanta sastras.
EPISTEMOLOGY – An analysis of knowledge
Epistemology is a branch of Philosophy where jnana (knowledge) is analysed. It is also said as the science of jnana (knowledge).
What is jnana? Does one attain jnana instantly or is it a gradual process?
Jnana according to philosophy is the knowledge of the self (Atma), knowledge of the jagad (world), knowledge about Ishwara (God), the relationship between these three, and about bondage and liberation. When we analyze jnana it is evident that one attains jnana gradually, in an organized manner. If one attains jnana in an improper way then it will not help that person as well as the society.
Now let us see the various aspects of jnana. The different aspects are
1. Pramaatha – Knower
2. Pramaanam – Instrument of knowledge
3. Prameyam – Object of knowledge
4. Prama – Knowledge we attain
5. Brahma – Wrong knowledge
6. Prayojanam – Benefits of knowledge
These are the six aspects of jnana, which is otherwise known as jnana samagiri. Now let us see each one of them briefly.
PRAMAATHA – Knower
Pramaatha is the person who has an inclination towards jnana. If a person has an attitude for jnana then he will attain jnana; otherwise even when he is in a pool of jnana, he will not attain jnana. No one can push a person into the field of Vedanta. If a person chooses Vedanta without any other option then this knowledge will not stay with him for long. Therefore, the mentality of the person who attains jnana is very important. When a person with good interest and attitude aspire for jnana then he is known as the pramaatha.
A pramaatha must be aware of his ignorance. He must be able to find his real interest and about the subject he wanted to know. Others cannot help him much in this matter. This is not an easy job because our ego will not allow us to reveal our ignorance. All types of jnana like Vedanta, yoga, meditation, ritual etc, will not suit every person in the same way. Therefore, the knower must be aware of which one will suit him the most; only then he will be able to continue in it. This is known as prameya nischaya.
He must decide from which institution or from which Guru he need to attain jnana; regardless of whether he is accepted by that institution or that Guru, he must know from where he would like to acquire jnana. This is called pramaana nischaya.
After deciding all these he must prepare himself to attain jnana. For example, if he wants to attain knowledge in Vedanta, then he must practice chitta shudhi, purity of mind. This is known as pramathru siddhi.
Sometimes we are aware of all these and we go through these processes consciously. Sometimes everything falls in its own place due to our previous good deeds (puniya). Dharma (right action) and shraddha (faith) protects a person even though he has low intellectual power.
PRAMAANAM – Instrument of jnana (knowledge)
It is not possible to attain jnana without a right pramaana. There are six types of pramaana used in Philosophical studies.
1. Pratyaksha pramaana – It is the jnana attained through the five sense organs like reading scriptures, directly seeing divine places or hearing Vedantic discourses etc.
2. Anumana pramaana – It is attaining jnana by reasoning, by using logic and coming to conclusion. It is commonly known as yukti. For example, if you see smoke at a distance then we conclude that there is fire.
3. Arthapatti pramaana – It is attaining jnana by presumption. It is moreover like anumana pramaana. For example if we see a wet road, we presume that it has rained.
4. Upamana pramaana – It is the knowledge we attain by comparing one’s experience with others experience.
5. Sabda pramaana – It is the knowledge we attain through vakyam (sentences).
Sabda pramaana has two divisions. They are the lowkika sabda pramana and vaithika sabda pramana.
Lowkika sabda pramaana is the knowledge we gain through books and through the experience of others.
Vaithika sabda pramaana is the knowledge we attain from the Veda. It is otherwise known as Veda sabda pramana.
6. Anupalapti pramaana – It is the knowledge of non-existence. It is about knowing the absence of an object or matter.
3. PRAMEYAM – Object of knowledge
Prameyam has three categories. They are the jagad jnana, dharma jnana, and Brahma jnana.
Jagad jnana is the jnana about the five basic elements, its corresponding subtle tattwa and their different combinations. All the branches of science, arts, engineering, medicine etc comes under this category.
Dharma jnana – it is the jnana about the righteous acts, its consequences. It also tells about the actions to be avoided and the consequences of it if they are not avoided. The basic principle of this jnana is what is right for my mind and emotions is right for others.
Brahma jnana – it is the knowledge of the Self attained through the scriptures. It is the subjective knowledge and not subject to change. One must be sharp enough to grasp the illusive nature of this world.
4. PRAMA – Jnana (knowledge)
When a pramaata (knower, student), using pramaana (instrument of knowledge, senses), when he touches the prameya (object of knowledge), the thought that arises in the mind is prama (knowledge). Prama shows the exact nature of the object/subject. We often refine our action in a positive way according to our jnana. If we superimpose our ideas or if we understand it according to our will, then it is the viparita jnana (wrong jnana).
Sattvika jnana helps one to see the unity in diversity. Rajasika jnana makes one to see this world as different parts. It clearly differentiates between objects. Tamasika jnana makes one to see the part as the whole. It does not give a clear picture of the world. Arrogance and ignorance hides the real world. Sattva guna leads to faith in sattvic life and this gives sattvic jnana.
5. BRAHMA – Wrong understanding
Brahma is wrong jnana. It is also said as viparita jnana. When we see an object we superimpose our own idea on it and we do not see the object as such; as a result we get a distorted image of the object. In sanskrit, this is known as adhyasam, meaning (superimposition). For example, when we see a rope, we superimpose a snake on the rope. It is to assume something in the place where it is not present. The same instrument of knowledge which gives the right jnana is also responsible for the wrong jnana. If the jnana is wrong then it is very difficult to understand that we have acquired wrong jnana; moreover, if we acquire wrong jnana then it is difficult to remove it. Right knowledge is to know exactly the object as it is. Right knowledge shows the presence and absence of an object just like a light illumining the object. Sometimes our sense organs may give wrong knowledge. What we see may not be the reality. In such places one must use anumana pramaana (reasoning) to get right knowledge. There is a famous saying, ‘You will never know what it is. You would like to know what you want to’. Impurities in the mind give a distorted image of the real. When we gain chitta shuddi, only right knowledge will enter the mind.
Sometimes we may have jnana. However, we fail to implement it and that jnana is very weak. Therefore, it is important to attain jnana through proper source and it must be used to implement the right values in life.
6. PRAYOJANAM – Benefits of jnana
There are two types of jnana. They are karma sadhanam and jnana sadhanam.
Karma sadhanam : Even after attaining jnana one must practice it to get benefit from it. For example, even after knowing about yoga asanas, one must practice it to get full benefit from yoga. This is known as karma sadhanam.
Jnana sadhanam : Jnana itself will give immediate benefit. For example, when the mind does not have any impurities, then the mahavakyas itself will give immediate jnana. Jnana sadhanam is only applicable to Brahma jnana. All the other worldly jnana needs practice and they belong to karma sadhanam.
These are the different aspects of jnana. All our actions, judgment, emotions, behaviour are based on our jnana. Therefore, it is important to attain jnana from the right source.
DESTINY VERSUS FREEWILL
Destiny vs freewill – It is one of the very famous and important topics as far as spirituality is concerned. Everyone would be interested to know that who is in-charge of our life? Is it God, or the planets and stars, or our past karmas or is it our strong desires which we famously say as freewill or the surroundings in which we develop our talents like our family, society etc. Who decides our life? For some people everything happens in the easiest way, some have to struggle a lot; more worse is, some people in spite of the effort they take success slips from their hands. For some people failure and hard times haunt them for many years to the extent that they get used to hard times and feel no difference. Is there any basic reason for all these or is it just a happening.
In this article, I am not going to mention about the different beliefs based on different religions. I would like to share the rational thought behind this topic.
Destiny in Sanskrit is said as prarabhdha karmas. When we perform an action, subtle impressions are formed in the mind. These impressions are called vasanas. Vasanas influence our thought process and accordingly an action is done. When an action is done, again a new impression is formed in the mind and this cycle repeats. If life is strictly based on our prarabhdha karmas, then present actions are based on prarabhdha karmas, there is no chance for any external influence and life is predetermined. Life will be according to the past impressions. It is like the read only CD; in that case, there is no need to praise or to punish people because everything is predetermined and just bear what all comes in life; but life does not go that way.
On the contrary, if life is strictly based on strong desires in the mind which we say as freewill, then how come people face negatives in life? Definitely, no one will have desires for negative situations or results. From both the views it is easy to understand that life is not completely based on either freewill or prarabhdha karma.
The thought based on a situation affects the person more than the situation itself. Let us take the example of failure in exams. All students will not take that incident in the same way. Some students consider this situation as a part of life. Some take it very seriously; they analyze the reason for failure and improve their performance in their next exam. Some students go to the extent of committing suicide and some just conclude themselves as inefficient and discontinue from the studies. These are some of the reaction from different mentalities based on a single situation. The people who argue for destiny say that the result as well as their reaction are based on the past impressions. The people who argue for freewill say that everything is based on our upbringing, influence from family, friends, society etc. What is the base for all these; is it destiny (prarabhdha karma) or freewill (purushartha).
Vedanta says that life is based on both – destiny as well as freewill. Either destiny or freewill alone cannot make life. Our present action, present thoughts, present effort will never go waste. Influence of prarabhdha karma can create situations. However, how efficiently we face that situation is based on the power of the present thoughts. Prarabhdha karma influences our thoughts to a large extent. However, if we are aware and confident then we can create powerful present thoughts and change our destiny. Our present thoughts, action and knowledge definitely have a power to influence the destiny. Either way can happen; If our destiny is positive then there is a chance of changing it to negative – though it is very rare; A negative destiny can also be changed to positive to an extent by the powerful positive thoughts. Exercises of the mind like meditation, affirmations, visualization etc can help change the destiny the positive way.
Some of the prarabhdha karmas are very strong or they have already started to give result. They are like the released arrow. They will definitely hit the target. Some of them like, our birth in a family, our parents, siblings, and physical deformities are the result of the released prarabhdha karmas. They cannot be changed. However, our future is not fixed. Only the present moment is true. Future is based on our decisions taken at the present moment. If we are not aware that our present thoughts have power, then we will not try for it and in that case by default life goes according to prarabhdha karma, which is destiny.
As said earlier, some of the prarabhdha karmas are powerful and need more effort to change. Suppose I want to change the color of my room wall to white colour which is now painted in black colour, then I have to take much effort to change it to white. If the wall is already painted yellow in colour, then I do not need much effort to change it to white. Just the same way, sometimes our karmas are strong. Then we have to take a lot of effort to change it to positive. It may take some time to change. However, definitely gradually it will change. If the karmas are not that strong then with little effort we can change the destiny to positive.
Sometimes, our prarabhdha karma and freewill go in the same way. Then the future will be very bright. Sometimes the prarabhdha karma and freewill are just opposite. Then it needs effort and it is time consuming. Anyway if our present thoughts are powerful and positive then the negative destiny can be changed gradually to positive. What has happened till today is according to the prarabhdha karmas. That cannot be changed. Now we are aware of the power of our thoughts and the future is materialized by the power of our present thoughts. Definitely the present thoughts has a power over the past impressions or destiny.
Another important point is, we must have complete focus on our goal. Many people have scattered desires or rather many desires. They are not sure about their goal. In such cases only the resultant of the desires will materialize.
There are many past vasanas in the mind. It is measured in quantity. Whereas, the power of the present thoughts is based on the quality of the present thought. It is quantity versus quality.
Therefore in conclusion, whichever is powerful will materialize. If the prarabhdha karmas (destiny) are powerful then by default it will become our future. On the contrary, if the present positive thoughts (purushartha or freewill) are powerful, then the future is based on the present positive thoughts. Life is a combination of both destiny and freewill.