Guru Smarana Samithi
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Lamp of Non-duality (Advaitha Deepika) Class X

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Translation & explanation of Verse-17
Ignorance-originated doubt resulting in confoundedness
Arises in those who are still seekers of Self-Reality or the Reality that oneself is.
It never occurs even in the least with those who are well stabilized in enlightenment.
The doubt as to whether the apparent snake is snake or rope
Is because of confoundedness;
On seeing the rope, it has no chance to arise at all.

(“Ajnana-samshaya-viparyayam aathma-tathva-
Jijnaasuvinnu driddabhodhan-ithilla thellum
Sarpa-pratheethi phaniyo kayaroyithenna
Tharkkam bhramam kayaru kaankil ithilla thellum”):
Humans, in the wisdom context, could well be classified as three groups: the ignorant (ajnanins), the seekers (jijnasus) and the enlightened (jnanins). The totally ignorant one has no desire at all to know what is real in oneself, what is real in the world, and therefore the doubt as to whether this or that is real does not arise in such a one at all. Doubt arises only in the minds of those who have already entered the path of search for Reality. Such seekers are called jijnasus. The enlightened ones (jnanins), of course, have no doubt at all.
The non-dual perception of Reality (advaitha darsana) is unravelled in the present work as the solution to a specific issue: why do we continue to perceive the world with our senses even after becoming fully convinced that the world is unreal? The world, as we saw in the last verse, is nothing other than Aathma become manifest, induced by no I-sense. Then what is it that we perceive with our senses – the world or Aathma become manifest? That it is the latter is the truth. Yet we are completely unaware of it being so. This state is what is known as ajnana (ignorance). The Self-Reality (Aathma-tathva) remains Self-Reality even as It assumes the form of the world, we the perceivers included. And, therefore, the enlightened (dridda-bhodha) perceives Aathma’s existence alone in all that appears as the world, as its perceiver and as the act of perceiving. Only in the one who is yet to realize the Self does arise the above said perplexing question. Nevertheless, such a one is a seeker, for he/she yearns to clarify his/her doubts.
Ajnana (ignorance) is the state of not knowing the Real as the Real, of not knowing Aathma as the Real. Seeing Aathma and misjudging it as the world happens because of the ajnana in the seeker. A jnanin, on the other hand, sees Aathma as Aathma through appearing as the world, and hence the question raised here is of no relevance for such a person. The ultimate solution to the problem, thus, is not looking for a reasoned-out answer, but is attaining jnana or Self-Realization. The Guru again tellingly makes use of the rope-snake analogy to bring this point into relief. Only those who are not certain that what lies before them is simply a piece of rope, have the doubt whether it is a rope or a snake. No logical reasoning helps them in coming to a decision. Seeing the rope and getting rid of the confusion is the only solution. The same is true in the present case also. What I see always everywhere is Aathma alone; this world is the form in which Aathma manifests itself – this certainly realized, one becomes free of the doubt, “Why do I continue to see the world?”
The Guru suggests a sort of contemplative practice in the next verse in order to help the seeker get rid of the confounded state he is in.
Translation & explanation of Verse-18
The contemplative function of mind,
Advancing before every object of perception,
Removes the veiling curtain in front;
And then is seen the one Consciousness.
The eyes do not go behind and see
The illuminating principle that enables the eyes to see;
So too Consciousness does not see Itself.

(“Munne kadannu vishayam-prathi vrithi munnil
Ninneedum aavaranamam thira neekkidunnu
Pinneedu kaanum arivum prabha tande pin-pouy
Kannenna-pol arivu kaanukayilla thaane”):
As we saw in the last verse, our final goal is to become enlightened. This means, becoming fully convinced that one causal Substance alone unfolds Itself as everything in all the worlds, and perceiving that Substance alone in all that is apparent. That one causal Substance is none other than pure, unconditioned Consciousness, or Chithu. Even the one who understands all this theoretically may continue to perceive the unreal world as existing, not the real Consciousness-Substance. This seems to be a conundrum in the mind of the seeker who still is ignorant, but not in the mind of an enlightened one. Becoming enlightened saves one from this conundrum as well. The contemplative practice that helps the seeker already aware of the unreality of the world to attain this goal is what the present verse concentrates on.
We, on seeing a pile of gold ornaments, naturally may like to classify them as, “This is a chain,” “This is a bangle,” “This is a ring,” “This is a stud” and so on, forgetful of the fact that all of these are but gold and thus one in essence. Seeing a chain as a chain, not as gold, happens because the chain-form becomes a sort of veil put on the gold-substance. And the potential to assume this self-veiling form is inherent in gold. Likewise is the world-form that puts a veil on Aathma, keeping the latter unnoticed and creating the impression that the former does exist. In order to see the gold substance, one has to mentally eliminate the visible chain-form. Similarly, the world-form that obstructs a direct vision of Aathma has to be eliminated mentally in order to intuitively perceive It. Only upon removing the front curtain does what happens within a drama stage gets revealed. Likewise, the removal of the world-curtain enables the seeker to perceive what is really within: Aathma playing the world drama.
The potential to assume the form of ornaments is inherent in gold; so too has Aathma inherent in It the boundless potential to unfold Itself beginninglessly and endlessly as the world. This mysterious potential is known as maya, and devoid of it Aathma never exists either. Owing to this maya, Aathma assumes the function of knowledge, necessitating the presence of objects to be known (i.e. vishayas). Aathma assumes the form of vishayas as well, again owing to maya. The appearances of the knower along with his act of knowing, and also of the object, are like the front curtains of a drama stage. Remove them; then what becomes revealed is pure and unconditioned Consciousness or Aathma. It is neither the knower’s knowing nor the object known; It is the one Substance that fills the being of both. That Substance alone has real existence. I am That. Everything is That. One who realizes thus is the enlightened.
Does the enlightened one know clearly and distinctly what Consciousness or Aathma is? No, for It never is an object of knowledge. As the knowing function goes on in consciousness, the Consciousness causal to it remains unknown to that function, and it is in this sense Vedanta holds that the ultimate Reality is unknowable. A familiar example that can shed light on this point is the case of our own eyes. Eyes, because of their illuminating power, see other objects, but the very same illuminating power ever remains invisible to them. Nevertheless, Consciousness or Aathma remaining unknown objectively is not a hindrance to one experiencing oneself as That in essence and existing as That.
No logical reasoning, no critical acumen, helps one to remove the above-mentioned veil. Opening one’s own inner eye, the intuitive eye of wisdom, alone helps, as is underscored in the next verse.

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