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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-28

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)
Translation & explanation of Verse-28

Bereft of bottom or top, from the bottom to the crest where it terminates-
What is known vividly is ‘thuriya’ consciousness;
Inert matter does not know; having understood this,
Know that what is said to remain in between is not knowledge.

(“Ati mutiyattati thottu mauliyantham
Sphudamariyunnathu thurriya bodhamaakum
Jadamariveelathu chintha cheythu chollunna-

Key message:-
This verse pictures the experience of waking into nature and characteristics of Self-Realization. There are two aspects of consciousness within, as given to the contemplative vision. They are to be understood as dependent and independent, as the physical and the psychic, of the psycho-physical aspects functioning simultaneously.
One has transparency and clarity, filling the whole of being as from within, without any remainder, spreading from our consciousness of the soles of our feet to the top of the crest of the head.

The other kind of awareness is not total, and like reflex-action in the muscles connecting them with the central nervous system, functions transversely, hesitating and using halting syllogistic reasoning, which are only probable and indirect in their nature and weak in their degree of certitude. On the other hand, single or partial stimulus is translated into total responses by the transparent consciousness.

The latter is to be recognized as the ‘Thuriya’ consciousness, which is here called inert. This consciousness has no beginning or end. It is not limited to any body. Everything that happens is within it and is all-witnessing reality.

Bereft of bottom or top, from the bottom to the crest where it terminates-
What is known vividly is ‘thuriya’ consciousness;
(“Ati mutiyattati thottu mauliyantham
Sphudamariyunnathu thurriya bodhamaakum”):
Guru uses the word ‘Thuriya’. To know from head to base of that which does not have any reference point of start and end. While knowing, it should be clearly known and experienced in its completed form. That stage is called ‘Thuriya’ consciousness.

But this cannot be known like an ordinary process of knowing the things. It is beyond the boundary of knowledge and apprehending this knowledge is also known as non-dualistic experience and an apparent one.
In Mandukya Upanishad, it is termed as ‘chathurtham’. The other three stages are ‘Jagrath’(the waking), ‘Swapnam’ (the dreaming), and ‘Sushupthi’ (the sleeping). It is in the Brahadaranyaka Upanishad, this non-dualitstic experience is termed as ‘Thuriyam’. By its meaning, it is termed as fourth. Sree Narayana Guru follows this Upanishad tradition to define in the same name.

In Mandukya Upanishad, for defining it, a denial approach was applied; i.e. something which cannot be expressed in words. This mysterious has been revealed in iconic manner by the Guru here, which is not of denial in nature, but an extraordinary definition. Guru’s contribution in clarifying this aspect is complimented by addressing the knowing process from head to base.

There is nothing which does not exclude the process of knowing. This refers to in-depth knowledge and not a superficial one. In the Puranas, there is a famous story when Lord Siva appeared as illumine form, Lord Vishnu went on searching its base in the form of a pig; and Lord Brahma in the form of a swan. Both of them could not succeed in their search. This story is embedded in this verse.

Inert matter does not know; having understood this,
Know that what is said to remain in between is not knowledge

(“Jadamariveelathu chintha cheythu chollunna-
We go to schools and colleges and walk around with fat books under our arms, thinking we are learning. Certainly we are learning something, but our learning is confined to the world of agitations of the nervous system. We do not go beyond that. Narayana Guru qualifies this as the knowledge that happens in between pure darkness and pure light, and says that it is not worthy of being called knowledge.

Once upon a time, earlier scientists thought they were getting definite knowledge with the absolute certitude. Then along came some sober people with more honest minds, like Einstein and Heisenberg, who said to “wait, don’t go that far. What we know is only from the standpoint of this individuated being who is using his senses and mind. We are unqualified to answer fundamental questions”. Bertrand Russell calls this “piecemeal annexations of our impressions”. That is all. Sree Narayana Guru says it is what we articulate when we sit in between light and darkness, and that this is not the real knowledge we seek. So where do we turn when we wish to seek definite knowledge with absolute certitude?

This is the point where the need arises to transcend the triple states of sleep, dream and wakefulness. How do you know you have transcended? There comes a new clarity in the form of a transparency of vision where you see through the past, present and future. Your vision is not checkmated by any frontier: it is frontier-less vision. It is not confined to name and form. It does not come under the category of cause and effect. The words that we use and thoughts that we cerebrate are all of no use. This is the realm of infinite silence into which we can merge, where the present faculties which are very useful to us become of no use.

Concluding message:
The Isavaasya Upanishad says that those who rejoice in ‘avidya’ (ignorance), live in darkness. But those who rejoice in knowledge live in even greater darkness. Then it goes on to say that those who know the secret of the world of ignorance transcend death. To transcend death, we must thoroughly review the world of ignorance, to which belong all the comedies and tragedies of life. It is well worth knowing the secret of ignorance, but if you are indulging in that ignorance, you live in the darkness and are not benefited by awareness of it. Most of us find ourselves oscillating somewhere between total ignorance and absolute enlightenment. For the people who caught between these two worlds could have a secret hint: that you go to zoo only to marvel at it, not to get behind the bars.

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