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Vijnana Yoga

by Swami Sivananda

K
nowledge of the Supreme Self is Vijnana. It is direct intuitive perception of the Self through Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Jnana is theoretical knowledge of Brahman through study of the Upanishads and Vedantic literature.

Maya is dependent on the Lord. She is from the Lord. She is called the Sakti or energy of the Lord. When the Maya covers Brahman, who is devoid of attributes, then She is called by the Vedantins as the Avyakrita or unmanifest. Some call Her the Mula Prakriti (the primordial energy). She is also styled Sansriti (the world process), Bandha (limitation) and the like.

Impelled by the Lord, She creates Mahat-Tattva (the great intelligence). Impelled by the energy of the Lord Mahat creates Ahamkara or the principle of egoism. Covered with Mahat-Tattva, the Ahamkara becomes threefold, viz., Sattva (goodness), Rajas (action) and Tamas (darkness or inertia). From the principle of Tamas are produced the five subtle Tanmatras. Thence come the five primeval gross elements, viz., ether, air, fire, water and earth, each partaking the attributes of the one preceding.

From the attribute of Rajas coupled with Ahamkara, are produced the organs of action. From the attribute of Sattva, coupled with Ahamkara, are produced the deities presiding over each organ of sense, together with the mind.

Coupled with the attribute of Sattva, the Lord is known by the name of Vishnu, the sustainer of the world. Associated with Tamas, He is known as Rudra.

The conditions of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep are due to the attributes of the Buddhi or intellect. They are not in the Atman or the Absolute. The Atman is their witness. He is of the nature of intelligence itself, and undecaying.

The Maya always appears to be twofold, viz., Vidya (Knowledge) and Avidya (Ignorance). Those who are under the intelligence of Avidya are attached to the path of action. Those who are given to the study of Vedanta take to the path of cessation from action, only after their heart is purified completely.

Maya flies away from those who are given to the recitation of the names of the Lord.

Those who are under the influence of Avidya or ignorance, are always wandering in the Samsara. Those who are given to the practice of introspection, Japa, Kirtan, meditation, and study of holy scriptures, are always emancipated.
Knowledge of Self reveals itself to those who are the devotees of the Lord and who worship daily. Those who are possessed of devotion are undoubtedly emancipated. Those who are destitute of the nectar of devotion, cannot achieve emancipation even in dream.

The company of the saints is declared to be the cause of emancipation. Saints are those whose minds are unruffled, who are free from avarice, who have conquered desire, who have brought their senses and internal nature under control, who are devoted to the Lord, who have no longing for anything, who are the same in pleasure and pain, who are free from attachment, who are ever devoted to the Lord, who have the attributes of self-control, and who are content with whatever comes in their way.

If somehow or other one gets into the company of saints, then he is inspired to love hearing of the deeds of the Lord. From it develops devotion to the Lord. When devotion is attained, knowledge appears in all its fullness.

The idea of Self in the non-self, the body and the rest, is verily Maya. This world exists through Maya. This illusion of the world is only due to the action of the mind. It has no existence in reality.

There are two forms of Maya, viz., Avarana Sakti (veiling power) and Vikshepa Sakti (perspecting power). The former envelops all knowledge. The latter creates the world wheel by dividing into the gross and the subtle, from the Mahat-Tattva and Brahma, down to the blade of grass. This world is superimposed upon the Supreme Self by Maya, like a snake on a rope. Brahman is without duality. In reality nothing exists save Brahman. All that is heard, seen or remembered is like the creation of dream or reverie.

The body alone is known as the deep-seated root of this tree of world. Attachment to wives and sons, has its root in it. If there is no body, these objects cease to exist. The body, or Kshetra, is gross and subtle. The gross is that which is composed of the five elements, viz., ether, air, fire, water and earth. The subtle is that which is made up of the five subtle elements, viz., egoism, mind, intelligence, and the organs of perception and action. The reflection of Chaitanya is Chidabhasa or Jiva.

The Supreme Self is devoid of disease and decay. He is self-luminous, birthless, deathless, eternal, all-pervading and indivisible. He is one without a second. When ignorance is destroyed, the Jiva begins to identify himself with Brahman. Different from the intellect, the vital airs, the body, egoism, is Brahman. He is ever pure. He is the witness. He is Intelligence itself. He is everywhere full. He is supreme bliss itself. He is above all limitations of Buddhi and the rest. He is changeless, timeless and spaceless. He illuminates the body and the rest by his own light. He is uncovered by anything else. His nature is Truth and Knowledge.

Avoidance of dissimulation, killing and the rest, bearing of calumny with patience, always behaving towards others without crookedness, serving a good teacher through thought, word and deed, with devotion, internal and external purity, perseverance in good actions and the like, control of mind, speech and the body, avoidance of objects of sense, absence of egoism, examination of the faults of birth, old age, death and the like, freedom from attachment to sons, wives and wealth, preservation of equanimity of temper in pleasure and pain, single-minded devotion unto the Lord, residence in a sacred place free from the society of men, avoidance of the company of worldly-minded persons, constant effort towards the attainment of knowledge of Self, reflection on the meaning of the Vedanta through these, is the knowledge of the Self attained. From their contraries arises delusion.

That by which the Supreme Self is known, is Knowledge. The same Knowledge, when realised, becomes direct cognition. Unattached is the Self-luminous Seer. He gets realisation through knowledge. When knowledge of the unity of the individual soul and the Supreme Soul arises, through the teachings of a realised sage, then, the root ignorance together with its effects and instruments, is merged into the Supreme Self. That condition is said to be emancipation. The removal of wrong notion of duality is emancipation. It is not attainment of anything new, but realisation of the Atman as it is.

Knowledge is difficult of attainment by those who are devoid of devotion to the Lord. Just as in the night even those having eyes cannot see their way, but those carrying a lamp can, so also, to those possessed of devotion to the Lord, the Atman appears in its real nature.

Company of saints, service unto the Lord and His devotees, fasts on Ekadasi and the like, observance of days sacred unto the Lord, such as Sivaratri, Sri Krishna Janmashtami etc., constant love for hearing, reading and expounding stories relating to the Lord, such as the Ramayana, the Bhagavata etc., faith in worship and recitation of Lord's sacred names, are the means of attainment of devotion to the Lord.

Intense love for the Lord arises in those who are ever devoted to the Lord. Then the person who is endowed with love unto the Lord attains non-attachment, knowledge and Self-realisation, or the final emancipation.

The man of wisdom who is endowed with single-minded devotion to the good, who keeps constant company of those who are devoted to the Lord, who meditates on the Lord, who possesses a pure heart and a calm mind, and who always finds delight in serving the humanity is a liberated sage or a Bhagavata or a dynamic Yogi.


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