When mind ceases to exist, Atma remains, free of all wrong notional limitations.

While explaining the principle of chidabhasa (reflected consciousness), in the third verse of Hastamalakiyam, (which has been dealt with in the preceding issue), the example of a mirror and the reflection of the face was used. Taking up this example, it has to be seen what happens to the face when the mirror is broken. This question cannot be answered straight- way and we will have to ask a further question to which face we are talking about, the original face or the reflected face.

Only the Reflection Goes
It must be clear to us that only the reflected face will disappear when the mirror is broken and I cannot see my face in the mirror. But this does not mean that I have no face; it still remains in tact, though I do not experience this face as an object. In a similar manner, when the mind and body are resolved, as happens in deep sleep, death and cosmic resolution (pralayam), consciousness does not go away and it is only the reflected consciousness (chidabhasa) that ceases to exist. This is the idea brought out in the fourth verse, the text, transliteration and translation of which are given below:

yatha darpanabhava abhasahanau
mukham vidyate kalpanahinamekam |
tathadhiviyoge nirabhasako yah
sa nityopalabdhisvarupohamatma

Just as the reflection of the face ceases to exist when the mirror is removed and the face alone remains without any false appearances in the form of reflections, so also, when the mind (the reflecting medium) ceases to exist, Atma is free from all wrong notions caused by the reflection.

Ignorance Is the Cause
Just as the reflection of the face in a mirror is not real and has no existence apart from the original face, the reflected consciousness (chidabhasa; technically known as Jiva) has no reality apart from the original consciousness (Brahman). It is only because of the ignorance of his real nature (Brahman), that the jiva identifies himself with the body-mind complex, which is leading to all the problems connected with samsara (bondage).

The reference in philosophical texts to the “Cessation of the mind” only means the dropping of the identification with the body- mind complex and losing sight of one’s higher nature.

Atma Anubhavarn
The question raised often by Vedantic seekers is how Atma (Self) can be experienced (Atma anubhavam). Hastamalaka rejects (in the fifth verse) this notion of Atma anubhavam as an objective experience. He explains that we have, due to ignorance, added limitations to the limitation-free Atma (Self).

It is only the removal of the notion of limitation that is referred to as Atma anubhava in technical terms. In other words, Atma (Self) being ever evident and self- effulgent, we all have Atma anubhavam (experience of the Self) which alone is responsible for all other particular objective experiences. What we lack, therefore, is not Atma anubhavam but only the knowledge that we are, in fact, of the nature of Atma (Self).

The text of the fifth verse together with the transliteration and translation is given below:

manascaksuraderviyuktah svayam yo
sa nityopalabhodhisvaruphoamatma||

I am that Self which is of the nature of eternal consciousness, which is different from the mind, eye and the other organs, but is itself the mind of the mind, the eye of the eye, the ear of the ear and so on.. It is, however, inaccessible to the mind and sense organs.

The famous Kenopanishad mantra--Srotrasya srotram, manaso manah... (ear of the ear, mind of the mind...) is relied upon in this verse. Atma (Self) is defined as the consciousness principle different from the mind and the sense organs (which are inert by themselves and cannot experience the outside world) but illumining the mind and organs remaining intimately associated with them but still being unconnected (asanga). Though the sense organs and the mind can objectify the external world, Atma (Self) cannot be known as an object at any point of time. Knowledge of Atma (Self) does not take place as an event in time as a result of a process (Atma aprameyam).

Atma Is Self-effulgent
Atma (Self) is also termed as svaprakasa (self-effulgent) in the scriptures. This only means that Atma (Self) is always known without an effort to know or involving a process of knowing. It is ever known to us that we are conscious.

If Atma (Self) is self-evident, and therefore knowledge of Atma need not be acquired through a special process, why should one take to Vedanta vichara Self-enquiry) at all?
The answer is that Vedanta vichara (Self-enquiry) is not to work for Self-knowledge (as Self is “I” and I am the ever evident individual). However, we have added the limitations of the body to the ‘I’ and Vedanta’s aim is only to remove all these superimposed limitations, so that we can discover the ‘I’ without any limitation (limitless ‘I’).

Drop the ‘I-Limited’ Notion
The notion that “I am limited” has to be dropped and this alone is Self-knowledge. Anything appearing after “I am” is only a notion.

The sixth verse that follows, conveys almost the same idea already explained in the third verse (dealt with in the preceding issue).

ya eko vibhati svatahsuddhacetah
prakasasvarupopi naneva dhisu|
saravodakastho yatha bhanurekah
sa nityopalabhisvarupohamatma||

The Self being self-luminous, shines by itself to those whose minds have become absolutely pure. Though only one, the Self appears as many and different in different intellects, in the same way as the sun, though only one, appears as many when reflected in d pots of water. I am that Self which is of the nature of eternal consciousness.

The non-dual consciousness (chit) alone appears as manifold chidabhasas (reflected consciousness) because of the medium or locus of manifestation. Every mind is one such medium and consciousness is experienced therein leading to an erroneous conclusion that consciousness is located and is subject to arrival and departure. We also superimpose the attributes of the medium to consciousness. Freedom from samsara (bondage) is nothing but freedom from assumed bondage.

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