The Fitness of the Seeker:

Excerpts from Sankara's book,

"Sarva Vedanta Siddhanta Sara Sangrah"

 

795. There are two types of aspirants: both of them are fit to receive this knowledge. They. have
been classed as those who are preeminently qualified, and those who are only moderately qualified.
. It depends upon their Capacity for realization; thus. it is that there arises in them a
corresponding mental modification.
796. The twice-born who has pleased God by performing with faith and devotion all the rituals
enjoined by the Vedas who by the grace of God has earned merit in his previous birth, and as a
result of it has now become fit and has been endowed with the requisite means to attain liberation,
such as discrimination, renunciation and dispassion, it is such a person who becomes fit to
comprehend what the Vedanta teaches Such is the opinion of the good and wise.
797, No sooner is the meaning of the sentence Mat thou art' made known to the aspirant by the
teacher of Vedanta, who follows the method of superimposition and of negation than there arises
in the man of pure intellect that supreme mental modification which - knows no change, - and be
realizes, 'I am that Brahman who is of the nature of eternal bliss, without a second,
incomprehensible, untainted, the One Supreme Reality.'
798. The - indivisible pure consciousness makes itself manifest in all that- it reflects upon. It
pervades everything. In as much as Brahman is not other than the Atman it follows that it is only
by means of Brahman that the veil of avidya may be lifted.
.799. As a result of the dawning of the supreme knowledge, when the veil of avidya is rent asunder,
in all the levels of consciousness, that power veiling the supreme Being which was but the product
of ignorance, also ceases to function.
800. When once ignorance is removed. along with it, that sense of separateness which was the effect-
of
ignorance is- also rem I oved. if every fibre of the' veil should be set on fire, would not the whole
fabric become burnt? In the same way, that -which was the. effect of ignorance, viz. the 'state of
the individual self, also become's negated.
801. Like a pale lamp that fades into insignificance before the bright blaze of the mid-day. sun, the
flickering light of limited consciousness, which is all that. avidya allows, 'becomes insignificant in
the presence of the knowledge of the infinite, self-effulgent Brahman. (Which is the Self? This
infinite entity that is identified with the intellect, and is in the midst of-the organs, is the self-
effulgent light within the+ heart. Assuming the likeness of the Intellect, It moves between the two
worlds. Brih, IV. 3.7)
802. That reflected light of individual conscious- ness which is all that is revealed by the intellect
does not in any way add to the light of the supreme consciousness,
803. It is as though one should hold a tiny lamp in order to throw light upon the mid-day sun.
When. the light of the supreme consciousness shines, one's limited individual knowledge is of little
avail. That is because the adjunct then become merged in pure consciousness.
804. When the. adjuncts merge in the supreme Brahman, which is reflected in them, what - remains
finally is the light of pure consciousness. That is the light of. the supreme Brahman, which alone
had been reflected in all. of them.
805. It is. only as long as a mirror is there that it reflects the face. But when once the mirror is
removed, reflection becomes one with the fa In the same way. 'when the limiting adjuncts have
ceased to function all that remains is the one pure consciousness.
806. A pot for instance is. made known through the mental modifications as long as one is in a
state of
ignorance. But who in one has attained knowledge, the same pot is made manifest by the light of
consciousness. But the analogy does not hold, good in regard to the self-effulgent Brahman,
because Brahman cannot be made manifest by its reflection.
807. That is why the learned hold that Reality, or Brahman, is capable -of pervading all the mental
modifications; but it does not follow that the reflection of pure consciousness can make Brahman
an object of manifestation. Consequently, there is no self-contradiction in what the sruti says.
(That which comprehends the mind but which the mind cannot comprehend. This verily is that
Kena II.3)
808. Brahman should t therefore be known by the subtle intellect. But those persons' whose
understanding is limited cannot directly attain that mental attitude merely by listening to what the
sruti says. -Such persons should recollect in mind what the sruti says and meditate upon it.
809. It is only by constantly hearing and thinking as well as by meditating upon what the sruti
says, that the intellect becomes endowed with the'' power of ascertaining that -which is subtle. It is
only then, and not till then, that The Reality is known..
810. That supreme reality is attained only by means of the subtle intellect. Those who are lacking
in intellectual sharpness should therefore repeatedly hear and meditate over. what the sruti says, in
order to attain the right knowledge. (810. By the mind along It can be known. Brih. IV. 4. 19.)
811. The expression 'hearing what the :sruti says is explained by the learned in the following way. It
means the ascertainment of the meaning of what the sruti says, by availing oneself f of the six valid
means of knowledge, until one attains the. Knowledge of the supreme Being, the One without a
second. (Here are the six means of valid knowledge repetition of an idea fit illustrative stories, the
context, the appeal to reason, the benefit to be derived. and the extent to which it is helpful in
knowing what is unknown)
812. By resorting to all the aids, the aspirant finds out the meaning of the sruti, until he comes to
realize -the supreme Being, Brahman as pure existence, the one without a second. Such is the
meaning of the word 'hearing'.
813. Similarly the word thinking means pondering over the content of what the sruti says and
trying to understand the nature of the inmost Atman With the help of reason one should try to
know that non-dual Reality, in so far 'as reason is not' opposed to Vedanta. It is in this way that
the Atman is realized, and. the supreme Reality is attained.
814. Likewise the word 'meditation' implies that the current of thought, should flow steadily like a
Jet of oil to the exclusion, of all other ideas, such as the consciousness of one's physical body and
the like. It is in this way that the mind should be wholly absorbed in the consciousness of the
Atman -and be permeated by it.
815. Therefore, let the aspirant listen diligently to what the Vedanta says, until all doubts are
removed, and until there comes the awareness that sruti is the only valid means of knowledge.
816. One should turn to the sruti with the help of reason and ascertain the truth of the Atman. one
should have all one's doubts cleared by means of continuous thinking, until one realizes the nature
of that which is to be proved.
817. One. who desires to attain liberation should therefore practice meditation unceasingly, until
all the
wrong ideas that arise in the mind as to the nature of the Atman are completely eradicated.
818. A man of renunciation should therefore resort to intense meditation and also avail himself of
the other means of knowledge. Then, the world of external objects which have been proved
formally to be unreal would no longer interfere with one's thought; and the immediate -knowledge
of the Atman will be attained. (‘I am a man,' 'I think,' 'I hear and so on may be regarded as
Instances of such wrong Ideas.)
Samadhi relative and absolute
819. There are, two kinds of samadhi. Of them, one is known as the savikalpa samadhi. It
represents deep concentration at the relative plane. The other is the nirvikalpa samadhi which is at
the absolute plane of consciousness. We shall now describe the nature of, savikalpa samadhi; listen
attentively.
820. in the relative plane of consciousness, one is aware of Brahman as permeating the whole of
one's field of consciousness. In as much as one has yet to establish complete identity with that
which one contemplates, it is called 'relative'.
821. A clay elephant reminds us of a living one, even though it is only clay. In the same way, the
apparent distinction of the knower, the known and the knowledge of it, although unreal, yet helps
one to realize the ultimate Truth; and such is the nature
Savikalpa samadhi.
822. It is called ‘samadhi' because' it is helpful in leading to the transcendent Reality. It is called
'savikalpa' which means 'subject to modification,' because there still linger the threefold
modifications of the knower, knowing and the known.
823. That stage of awareness is known as the nirvikalpa samadhi, in which, after having cast off the
idea that one is the knower, one is firmly established in that on which one contemplates.
824. It is as though the salt that has been thrown into water hits lost its separateness, and remains
in the form of water only.
825. When our individuality merges in the absolute 'Brahman' from which it has emerged, it loses
its sense separateness; and all that remains is the one nondual Brahman. (Individuality depends
upon the modifications of the mind such as the idea 'I am Brahman'.)
826. on account of the absence of the knowledge of the knower and the like, this type of deep
concentration is referred to as the 'absolute'. It is the presence or the absence of the mental
modifications that distinguishes the savikalpa from the nirvikalpa samadhi.