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Atma vidya : atma jnana

The knowledge about the self

Atma vidya

All spiritual teaching leads to realisation of the Self (atman) as the immortal presence in all beings. The Chandogya Upanishad unfolds a story which symbolises the quest in each being to know the truth of the Self and how this can be achieved in a progressive manner through proper instruction and with steady and systematic effort, explained Sri Mani Dravid Sastrigal in a discourse.

Sage Prajapati once expounds aloud the ancient wisdom in this regard: “The Self is free from evil, old age, death, grief, hunger and thirst. Its thought and desire stand rooted in the Real. The highest goal is to strive to understand the Self. This knowledge releases from bondage and liberates.” Hearing this, Indra from among the celestial beings and Virochana from the demons independently approach Prajapati in the bhava of a disciple, seeking further knowledge.

After 32 years of gurukulavasa, in response to a query from his two disciples whether what is reflected in a mirror or in the water is the Self, Prajapati directs them to look into a pan of water with and without adornments and is told that indeed they have seen the Self in the reflections exactly as they are. Prajapati declares: “The Self is indeed seen in these. The Self is immortal and fearless, and it is Brahman.” Away go the two immensely pleased with themselves, while Prajapati rues their inability to distinguish the Self from self. They mistake the Self for the person that is seen and not the person that sees.
As the contented Virochana inculcates the worship of the self as the doctrine of the demons, Indra, unsatisfied with the explanation, returns to Prajapati not once but thrice to learn more. The sage guides Indra step by step through introspection, propounding that the body is not the Self and neither is that which moves about in dreams. Dreamless and deep sleep states cannot fully represent the Self since it exists without the mind. Attaining the transcendental state alone will culminate in realisation of the Brahman. The realisation being subtle is to be felt in the inner individual experience. The story illustrates that the highest knowledge is not to be gained at one go.

The great philsopher Socrates said “To find yourself, think for yourself.” That is Atma Vidya. Atma vidya has three dimentions. One self realization, next God realization, and third conscious realization.Atma Vidya is self knowledge.

Gautama Buddha told in one of his noble truths ”desire is the root cause of sufferings”. If we understood the root cause, there will not be sufferings. To understand the root cause, there is need to know about Atma Vidya.

Which one is right, and which one is wrong? To choose one among the two is Atma Vidya.NACHIKETA asks Yama the death God to teach Atma Vidya. Please read the following teaching of Yama about Atma Vidya. This is Atma Vidya. You can understand Atma Vidya and can act attain.

” one should be fortunate indeed to be born as a human being. He should cultivate good friends, he should learn good things and he should do well to others. These are the meritorious deeds. It will be a sin if instead one keeps bad company and one’s actions are motivated by evil thoughts. None should suffer on account of us. Grief will’ overtake us if we act sinfully.”

“Learned people will never resort to sins, only an ignorant person does. The ignorant shall pay for their sins by taking rebirth. That is why it is said that it is only the body that dies and not the soul. Attaining salvation is the only path to avoid grief. And the path to salvation is through devotion to God. God is greater than the greatest. We worship Him as omnipotent and omniscient. He is visible to us through sun, moon, man and even animals. We should feel the presence of God every where. We should treat everybody equally. There is no such thing as highborn or lowborn. We should do well to all. In fact this is the real service to God. Such persons will attain salvation”.

Atma-vidya (Sanskrit) (from atma self + vidya knowledge):Knowledge of the self; the highest form of spiritual-divine wisdom, because the fundamental or essential self is a flame or spark of the cosmic self. “Of the four Vidyas — out of the seven branches of Knowledge mentioned in the Puranas — namely, ”Yajna-Vidya” (the performance of religious rites in order to produce certain results); ”Maha-Vidya,” the great (Magic) knowledge, now degenerated into Tantrika worship; ”Guhya-Vidya,” the science of Mantras and their true rhythm or chanting, of mystical incantations, etc. — it is only the last one, ”Atma-Vidya,” or the true Spiritual and Divine wisdom, which can throw absolute and final light upon the teachings of the three first named. Without the help of Atma-Vidya, the other three remain no better than surface sciences, geometrical magnitudes having length and breadth, but no thickness.

by Ramana Maharshi
Ramana Maharshi, the great spiritual saint of South India frequently compared the Light of the Self to the Light of the Sun. Here in his famous poem Atma-Vidya (Self-Knowledge) Ramana Maharshi describes the spiritual Self as “Sun within the Heart… the boundless seas of Perfect Bliss!”

A devotee once wrote on a slip of paper that Self-knowledge is the easiest thing, since one already is the Self, and handed it to Bhagavan [Ramana Maharshi], asking him to write a poem on the subject. This is the poem written.
The Self, which shines as Sun within the Heart,
Is real and all-pervading. ‘IT will reveal
Itself as soon as false thought is destroyed
And not one speck remains. For this thought is
The cause of the appearance of false forms,
The body and the world, which seem to be
Real things in spite of Self, which steadfast stands
The ever-changeless, firm as Truth itself.
When Self shines forth darkness will be dispersed
Affliction cease and Bliss alone remain.
The thought “I am the body,” is the string
On which are threaded diverse thoughts like beads.
Therefore, on diving deep upon the quest
“Who am I and from whence?” thoughts disappear
And consciousness of Self then Rushes forth
As the ‘I—I’ within the cavity
Of every seeker’s Heart. And this is Heaven!
This is that Stillness, the abode of Bliss!
What is the use of knowing everything
Except the Self? What else is there to know
For anyone when Self, itself, is known?
On realizing in oneself the Self,
Which is the only Self-effulgent One
In myriads of selves, the Light of Self
Will clearly shine within. This is indeed
The true display of Grace, the ego’s death
And the unfolding of the Bliss Supreme.
In order that the bonds of destiny
And all its kindred may at last be loosed,
And so that one may also be released
From the dread cycle of both birth and death,
This path than others is far easier,
Therefore be still and keep a silent hold
On tongue and mind and body. That which is
The Self-effulgent will arise within.
This is the Supreme Experience. Fear will cease.
This is the boundless sea of Perfect Bliss!
Annamalai, the Transcendental One,
That is the Eye behind the eye of the mind,
Which eye and other senses cognize,
Which in their turn illuminate the Sky,
And all the other elements as well,
That is again the Spirit-sky in which
The mind-sky doth appear, That shines within
The Heart which of every thought quite free,
And with gaze fixed within remains as That;
Annamalai, the Self-effulgent shines.
But Grace is needed most. So faithful be
Unto the Self and Bliss will then result.

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