Purani – from old times
Meaning of the sloka: This tree of the world cannot be perceived as a whole as such (from inside the world). It’s end nor the beginning can be known. This tree of the world should be cut down with strong determination with the weapon of detachment.
After that a person should seek that truth, reaching which there is no return. One has to surrender to that truth from which everything has come and unto which everything merges from time in memorial.
Explanation: We see many people in the world having the questions like what is this world? Where has it come from? When does it end? The answers to these questions are found in the above sloka when Lord Krishna says that the world cannot be understood. We cannot say when it started and when it will end.
When something has no beginning and end but we experience it, we can just term that as an illusion. Like the water in the desert. We see water in the desert. But we cannot say where the water has come from and when it will vanish, but at the same time we see as if water is present in the desert. We all know that water seen in the desert is just a mirage and not true. Similarly the whole world is just an illusion and hence we cannot talk about its beginning nor the end.
Each and every day we are experiencing the world as true and suffering in the world. So in order to experience the truth of the world being unreal, one has to develop detachment to the world. Only a person who has the strong vairagya can overcome the delusion of the world. That’s what the Lord says that one should cut down the tree of the world with strong detachment.
As AMMA says, when one is in the forest one cannot see the complete forest, only coming out of the forest, one can apprehend what it is like. So with the understanding that the world is an illusion, one should develop the strong detachment to the world and one should pursue the truth attaining which there is no return.
Ishwara or the lord is alone the truth. He is the one from whom the whole world has come from and unto which the whole world will merge. Lord Krishna says that by gaining surrender unto the lord one would reach that state from which there is no return. By gaining surrender unto lord alone one can see the world as an illusion.
Lord Krishna says in Gita 7.14
‘daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te”
Lord Krishna says here “It’s difficult to overcome the world of all three gunas. Only by surrendering unto me a person can cross over the ocean of samsaara”.
Once a person understands that the desert is the truth and water is just an illusion, he is never again deluded into believing that water exists in the desert. Likewise after a person realizes the truth through intuitive experience that the world is an illusion, he no longer is deluded by the world and ever remains blissful remembering Ishwara to be the ultimate truth all the time.
Thus through the above sloka Lord explains the nature of the world and how to overcome it and reach the abode of Ishwara. May through this learning, let us cut this tree of world and rejoice in bliss in contemplation of Ishwara.
Sarvasaara Upanishad This is an Upanishad from the Shukla Yajur Veda (as per the shanthi mantra of Sah naavavathu). It is a very short Upanishad in prose form that raises few questions on Vedanta and answers this in simple but beautiful words. There is no mention in this Upanishad as to between whom all the dialogues are happening but the Upanishad starts with questions and then answers all of them successively.
As the name of the Upanishad shows, it is an essence of all concepts essential for a seeker to realize the ultimate goal of Brahman.
The Upanishad starts with these questions:
Katham bandhah Katham mokshah kaa vidhyaa kaa avidhya ithi
Jaagrat svapna sushupthi turiyam cha katham
What is bondage? What is liberation? What is knowledge? What is ignorance? What are the four states of jagrat, svapna, sushupthi and turiya. What are the pancha koshas? Who is the doer jeeva? Who is kshetrajna, saakshi, kutastha, antharyaami? Who is the pratyagaatman? Who is the supreme atman? What is Maya?
As we can see from the above sloka (just few lines of the sloka rather than the entire sloka which has all the questions), these questions are various terms which will be dealt in Vedanta for a seeker to gradually understand everything essential in order to progress in the spiritual path towards the goal of Adviteeya Brahman of the nature of Sat Chit Anandam (Existence, Consciousness and Bliss absolute).
Bandha or bondage is when the Self (the pulsation inside as “I-exist” and termed as jeeva) considers and associates itself with the not-Self of body etc. (sense organs, mind, objects etc.). Moksha or liberation thus is getting rid of this wrong notion (superimposition).
When we try to analyze the entire experience spectrum that we have, we will end up with just two entities alone (though science tries to enumerate the various objects or specimens available in the world, it is something that the vaisheshika system had tried – but all these are unnecessary as a further drill-down into just two entities is very much possible) – one is the Seer or Subject of Self and second is the Seen or Objects which we collectively term as jagat or world. The Subject of Self is changeless, eternal and non-dual whereas the Objects of not-Self (that which isn’t the Self) is changing, unreal and dual. The not-Self is just an illusion in the Self even as the dream world is just an illusion in the dreamer. If this much we are able to understand, then everything is known – Vedanta becomes known and through practice of contemplation will become an intuitive experience of immense bliss.
Sankara beautifully explains this thus:
Drik brahma drishyam maayethi sarva Vedanta dindimaa
There are only two entities here of Seer and Seen both of which are mutually contrary in nature; Seer is Brahman whereas Seen world is an illusion – thus roars the lions of Vedanta.
Thus bondage is when we don’t remember this truth that everything is Self and Self alone exists; liberation is when we are able to remember this truth and thereby ever rejoice in bliss.
That which causes the identification or association of Self with not-Self is avidya or ignorance; that which will remove this identification is knowledge.
The Self is that which is beyond the pancha koshas – the pancha koshas include the gross body, vital forces along with sense organs of action, mind, intellect along with sense organs of perception and the happiness (as experienced during sensual pleasures and during deep sleep). The Self goes through the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep. An analysis of these three states would make us realize the underlying substratum or the connecting link between these diverse and mutually contradicting states as well as the experiences in these states. The Self that which is link between these three states is termed as a saakshi or witness – witness to all the activities that are happening in these three states. The Self is witness to activities of these states even as the dreamer is a mere witness to the activities in the dream world. This Self is also that which knows the body along with the instruments of sense organs, mind, intellect and objects of the world as well (from this aspect, the Self as an illuminator is termed as kshetrajna).
Once the Self is defined as distinct from the not-Self (vyaavritta lakshana) and is defined as a witness or substratum of the not-Self (thatastha lakshana), then comes the very nature of the Self in itself (without any relation with the not-Self or world). This svarupa lakshana is very important for a seeker to constantly contemplate once dispassion towards the world is cultivated through knowing the world to be not only sorrowful but as something which is an illusion and veiling our very nature of distinct Self. The Upanishad in the end gives very beautiful slokas to explain the svarupa lakshana of the Self.
Sthaanurnityah sadaanandah shuddho jnaanamayo amalah
Aatmaaham sarvabhoothaanam vibhuh saakshee na samshayah
Constant, eternal, always-blissful, pure, filled with knowledge and without impurities – such an Atman I am – that Atman which is the all-pervasive witness of all the beings in the world; there is no doubt regarding this.
I am the Self
This is the ultimate truth that “I am the Self” – not just a Self but Self of the nature of bliss. This very nature of bliss should at least instigate us to strive towards realization rather than running behind the illusory and sorrowful world. We have been running behind the world and worldly goals for many births now without any progress towards the goal of bliss – we only have become more and more sorrowful with each birth or each seeking of worldly goals. A thorough analysis of this should make us strive towards realizing our very nature of Self in this very birth itself rather than wasting yet another precious human birth. And to think that we are searching for bliss when bliss is our very nature, we should be considered as great fools or idiots if we don’t strive towards achieving this now itself.
Achieving this isn’t very tough at all as we generally think it to be. Realizing our very nature of Self is as simple as knowing ourselves to be different from the world filled with names and forms and asserting over and over again that “I am the all-pervasive, blissful and non-dual Self”.
The Upanishad ends with these two beautiful contemplative slokas which are worth repeating in our mind over and over again whenever we get time.
Brahmaivaaham sarvavedantavedhyam naaham vedhyam vyoomavaathaadirupam
Rupam naaham naama naaham na karma brahmaivaaham sacchidanandarupam
I am Brahman that which is to be known through Vedanta; I am not to be known like space and other objects; I am not form; I am not name; I am not action; but I am Brahman of the nature of Existence, Consciousness and Bliss.
Naaham deho janmamrithyu kutho me naaham praanah shutpipaase kutho me
Naaham chethah shokamohau kutho me naaham kartha bandhamokshau kutho me
I am not the body and hence how can there be birth and death for me? I am not the prana so how can I have thirst and hunger? I am not the mind and so how can I have delusion and sorrow? I am not the doer and hence how can there be any bondage and liberation?
The above two slokas are very beautiful and as mentioned before worth by-hearting and repeating in our mind whenever possible. Constant contemplation along with remembering their meaning will quickly elevate us to the state of Brahman wherein we will be able to ever rejoice in bliss amidst the problems of the illusory world. May this brief summary of this beautiful short Upanishad make us contemplate on our very nature of Brahman and thereby make us rejoice in bliss in this very birth itself.