Patanjali Yoga Sutra — सदा ज्ञाताश्चित्तवृत्तयस्तत्प्रभोः पुरुषस्यापरिणामित्वात्॥4.18॥
sadā jñātāścittavṛttayastatprabhoḥ Puruṣasyāpariṇāmitvāt॥
Being eternal and free from modifications, ‘Puruṣa’, the ‘Self’ is always the ‘Seer’, the passive observer (witness, sākṣī). He is the ‘Prabhu’, the Lord of the mind and ever remains aware of fluctuations of the mind.
It is a great puzzle to know how the material mind is capable of producing non-material emotions, thoughts and importantly the subjective experiences. This is called the ‘hard problem of Consciousness’ according to science. The study of Consciousness was a new branch in science just for the last 30 to 35 years and is being studied as a part of zoology, botany, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, etc. Scriptures say the mind might assume different states inebriated by guṇas, vāsanas and time of expression. But the ‘Puruṣa’, the Seer ever remains the same. What are the different states the mind might assume? Mānḍūkya Upaniṣad says the mind assumes the following four states:
- jāgṛta or vaiśvānara: Conscious state (bahiḥ prajña) or wakeful state. Indwelling ‘Puruṣa’ enjoys the gross objective prakṛti in a full wakeful state.
- svapna or taijasa: Sub-conscious (antaḥprajña) state or dream state. Being in antaḥprājña, ‘Puruṣa’ enjoys a subtler world created by the mind based on the experiences of jāgr̥tāvastha.
- suṣupti or prājña: Un-conscious (prajñānaghana) state or deep sleep or swoon state. Without any kind of desires or wishes, ‘Puruṣa’ enjoys bliss and becomes ‘ānandabhogi’ or ‘ānandamaya’. The awareness is lost but the anubhava will be there. In suṣupti, the senses are defunct (awareness is absent because of the absence of objective world) but post suṣupti, the person says, ‘Wow, I had a deep sleep and I enjoyed’. This is because of the presence of anubhava. Hence, it is not the absence of experience, but the enjoyer (one who has anubhava) ie., Jīvātma has the experience of absence.
- Advaita or turīya: Fourth state (state of non-duality) that experiences the first three states mentioned above. Thus the word ‘turīya or fourth’ is a misnomer. Because it is not the fourth but the one and only one experiencing the first three states. Here,‘Puruṣa’ is characterized as not having antaḥprajña, bahiḥprajña, ubhayaprajña, prajñānaghana, prajña, aprajña.
In the first three states (called avasthātraya) mentioned above, the mind is obscured by ajñāna or veiled behind avidyā and the mind cannot perceive ‘Puruṣa’ or the indwelling ātman. Only in the last state achieved by supreme jñāna or profound meditation or Samādhi, mind, being unblemished, gets absorbed in ‘Puruṣa’.
Bhagavān describes ‘Puruṣa’ magnificently as follows:
उपद्रष्टानुमन्ता च भर्ता भोक्ता महेश्वरः।
परमात्मेति चाप्युक्तो देहेऽस्मिन्पुरुषः परः॥गीता १३.२२॥
Upadraṣṭānumantā ca bhartā bhoktā maheśvaraḥ|
paramātmeti cāpyukto dehe’sminpuruṣaḥ paraḥ ॥Gītā 13.22॥
jīvātma is Puruṣa — the indwelling Paramātma (śaṅkarācārya says ब्रह्म सत्यं जगत् मिथ्या जीवोब्रह्मैव नापरः॥) Though present in śarīra, He is the Supreme Spirit, Supreme Self, second to none, Supreme ruler and Lord of the Universe. He is the undaunted observer, enjoyer, authorizer and sponsorer.
‘sā vidyā yā vimuktaye’ (The true education is one which liberates us from all kinds of bondages or shackles) say our śrutis. The very realization that jīvātma is Puruṣa is the highest knowledge one can get with all his svādhyāya and yoga sādhana. Is there a more proud moment than knowing that the Puruṣa is me? In such a state sādhaka becomes one with the whole and experiences complete dissolution with the Supreme. A great monk said once जानो या न जानो, मानो या न मानो तुम् ही राम्॥
In a mother’s womb were two babies. Read their interesting conversation:
One asked the other: ‘Do you believe in life after delivery?’
The other replied, ‘Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are preparing ourselves here for what we will be after delivery and what is going to happen after delivery.’
First one: ‘Nonsense; there is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?’
Second one: ‘I don’t know, but it might be brighter than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now with our limited knowledge of the present.’
First one: ‘That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.’
Second one: ‘Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.’
First one: ‘Nonsense. And moreover, if there is life, then why no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.’
Second one: ‘Well, I don’t know, but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.’
First one: ‘Mother? Do you actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists, where is she now?’
Second one: ‘She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of her. It is in her that we live. Without her this world of ours would not and could not exist.’
First one: ‘Well I don’t see her; so it is logical to conclude that she doesn’t exist.’
Second one: ‘Sometimes, when you’re in total silence, you focus and you really listen, you can perceive her presence, and you can hear her loving voice, calling down from above.’
(Contributed by one of my friends).
If one denies the existence of ‘Omni Present’, ‘Omni Potent’ Paramātma in this universe, is he not as ignorant and ridiculous as that of the first baby?