LIGHT OF LIGHTS – TAT ASMI PRABHO – TRIBUTE TO DR SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO


LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA – “PANCHAMA MAHAVAKYA” DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO:

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - TRIBUTE TO DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO, M.S., HE DISTILLED THE WISDOM OF VEDAS AND UPANISHADS BY COINING A "MAHA VAKYA."
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHA VAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO, M.S., HE DISTILLED THE WISDOM OF VEDAS AND UPANISHADS FROM SHANKARA’S UPADESHA.

Dr. Sarvepalli Anantha Padmanabha Rao, M.S., distilled the wisdom of Vedas, and Upanishads by discovering  “Panchama MahaVakya” or 5th Great Aphorism that states “TAT ASMI PRABHO.”  India’s great teacher Adi Shankaracharya composed a single verse, “EKA SHLOKI” in Sanskrit to capture essence of the “FOUR MAHAVAKYAS”(MahaVakya Chatushtaya), Upanishadic Aphorisms. Dr. Sarvepalli went ahead to encapsulate Knowledge and Wisdom or ‘UPADESHA’ of Great Guru Shankara in one short, brief, and precise statement which in Indian tradition can be called the ‘Fifth or Panchama MahaVakya’.

 

SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE - LIGHT OF LIGHTS - THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : THE LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF ILLUMINATION. THE KNOWLEDGE IS THE OBJECT OF ILLUMINATION. THE MIND IS THE OBSERVER OF ILLUMINATION. THERE IS UNITY BETWEEN THE SOURCE, THE OBJECT KNOWN, THE KNOWER TO MANIFEST THE PHENOMENA OF KNOWING.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – TAT ASMI PRABHO – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO, M.S., THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION. LIGHT IS THE SOURCE OF ILLUMINATION. KNOWLEDGE IS THE OBJECT OF ILLUMINATION. MIND IS THE OBSERVER OF ILLUMINATION. THERE IS UNITY BETWEEN THE SOURCE, THE OBJECT KNOWN, THE KNOWER TO MANIFEST THE PHENOMENA OF KNOWING.

I am pleased to share an article titled “Light of Lights” published by Dr. Sarvepalli Anantha Padmanabha Rao, M.S. who served for many years as Professor of Surgery, and as Director of Medical Education in the Government of Andhra Pradesh Medical and Health Services. It is important to know the views shared by the traditional thinkers of India. Indian Schools of Thought such as “ADVAITA”(NON-DUALISM) have formulated their theories about true or real essence of man or “SELF”(ATMAN) that may have independent existence while it is totally detached from the Body, and Mind of its thinker. While MYSTICISM is a part of various religious traditions, I am asking my readers to seek “WHOLE ILLUMINATION” by investigating and by exploring the basis for man’s existence in the natural world. Any such explanation, or clarification would  conclude and assert that man needs association, connection, partnership, relationship, bonding, cooperation, assistance, patronage, or UNITY with a source of ENERGY that exists in the man’s external environment. Man cannot maintain fact or reality of his physical existence without Unity( or “ASMI” in Sanskrit) with LORD GOD Creator called “PRABHU.” Dr. Sarvepalli described this underlying unity from his analysis of Shankara’s statement, “Tat Asmi PrabhO.” Further, using introspection, meditation, or contemplative prayer man can illuminate his “Inner World” and seek “Inner Vision”, a vision or illumination that describes the Identity of man’s true or real “SELF'(ATMAN) and its perfect, complete, and wholesome Divine Nature.

THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION – THE PHENOMENON OF KNOWING:

SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE - LIGHT OF LIGHTS - THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : THE ILLUMINED MIND KNOWS THE KNOWER, THE KNOWLEDGE, AND THE SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA – THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : THE ILLUMINED MIND KNOWS THE KNOWER, THE KNOWLEDGE, AND THE SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE.

The term illumination describes lighting or light. It is often used as the act or process of making something clearer or brighter or as a device for doing so. The word ‘illuminating’ or ‘illuminated’ is often applied to a clarification or explanation that sheds light on a subject that needs careful interpretation of information. In Physics, illumination is about intensity of light per unit of area; the luminous flux per unit area at any point on a surface exposed to incident light. It is also called ‘ILLUMINANCE’. However, in Biology, the phenomenon of Illumination requires study of Optics, Photoreception, and Photochemistry. The biological processes that involve the response of a living thing to the Light stimulus need to be stated as Photochemical Reactions which could be energy dependent and involve use of chemical energy provided by molecules of Adenosine Triphosphate(ATP). The Phenomenon of ‘ILLUMINATION’ in Biology requires operation of three conditions; 1. The Source of Light or Lighting, 2. The Object that is Illuminated, and 3. The Observer who has Sensory Perception called Vision, or ability called Photoreception to acknowledge the phenomenon that is observed. Using the nature of photochemical reaction that is observed, living things can be broadly classified into two kinds; 1. Plants that respond to Light stimulus to trap its radiant Energy but have no Sensory Perception called Vision, and 2. Animals(man included) that have Sensory Perception called Vision but do not have ability to trap the Light  Energy. For human existence, we need all those three conditions, 1. The Sun as the Source of Light, 2. The Plants that trap the radiant energy of Sunlight using their ability called Photoreception, and 3. The man or Purusha who uses ability called Sensory Perception or Vision and interprets that Light is God. For man is a rational being, he investigates to find the Source of Light that establishes Sun as a luminous, radiant, celestial object.

SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE - LIGHT OF LIGHTS - THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : FOR MAN TO DESCRIBE HIS EXPERIENCE CALLED VISION, OR INNER VISION, APART FROM A SOURCE OF EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL LIGHT, NEEDS THE SUPPORT OF THE VITAL FUNCTION CALLED BREATHING(PRANA) THAT ESTABLISHES MAN AS A BREATHING LIVING THING(PRANI OR PRANAVANTA).
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – THE FIFTH MAHAVAKYA  – THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : FOR MAN TO DESCRIBE HIS EXPERIENCE CALLED VISION, OR INNER VISION, APART FROM A SOURCE OF EXTERNAL OR INTERNAL LIGHT, NEEDS SUPPORT OF VITAL FUNCTION CALLED BREATHING(PRANA) THAT ESTABLISHES MAN AS A BREATHING, LIVING THING(PRANI OR PRANAVANTA).

The above picture image of a verse from Brihadaranyak Upanishad 4:5:11 helps us to understand nature of vital function known as Breathing and Respiration which is the physiological mechanism that man uses to oxidize food substances and derive energy which he further uses for his physical and mental work. If Vedas and Holy Scriptures are seen as the Source of knowledge, transmission of that Knowledge involves the use of Breathing. If “Knowing” is compared to the phenomenon of ‘ILLUMINATION’, the act of Knowing will only be possible if there is Unity between God, the Source of Knowledge, Knower, the Individual called JEEVA who performs all his living functions because of  Knowledge implanted in his substance that makes him a Sentient or Sensible thing, to establish him as the “Knowing-Self.” The natural phenomenon of Life and Living can be defined as ‘Knowledge in Action’. In Indian tradition the “SELF” or “ATMAN” is source of Inner Light that illuminates entire human body. I am suggesting that the Light called SELF or ATMAN illuminates by making it possible for man to maintain his connection with an external source of energy present in the environment. After having established his living condition or living state, man may find perfect Identity with God through the process called Inner Vision, Introspection, Meditation, or Contemplative Prayers with an attitude of “Whole Detachment” or separation from all things present in the external world. I like Dr. Sarvepalli’s  presentation “LIGHT OF LIGHTS” for it nicely explains the thoughts of Shankara. The Fifth Maha Vakya, “TAT ASMI PRABHO” emerges at end of his analysis of Shankara’s interpretation of Four MahaVakyas(MahaVakya Chatushtaya) or Upanishadic Aphorisms. It simply describes Unity(ASMI) between man(TAT) and the LORD(PRABHU) without which there is no human existence.  Man’s ability of Sensory Perception called Vision, and ability of Inner Vision are of secondary importance as Existence depends directly on the act of Breathing and the LORD or PRABHU is that source of Knowledge used in performing living function of Breathing.

Rudranarasimham Rebbapragada
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
BHAVANAJAGAT.ORG

LIGHT OF LIGHTS

SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE - THE LIGHT OF LIGHTS - THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : DR SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO, M.S., PROFESSOR OF SURGERY, DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL EDUCATION, GOVERNMENT OF ANDHRA PRADESH, MEDICAL AND HEALTH SERVICES.
 LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.

 

SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE - LIGHT OF LIGHTS - THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : THE DIVINE SONG CALLED THE BHAGAVAD GITA ILLUMINATED THE MIND OF PRINCE ARJUNA WITH KNOWLEDGE AND THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA – THE PHENOMENON OF ILLUMINATION : THE DIVINE SONG CALLED THE BHAGAVAD GITA ILLUMINED MIND OF PRINCE ARJUNA WITH KNOWLEDGE AND THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE.

Light illumines manifold objects in varying degrees of darkness; that is its property. Sources of such light may be external or internal to us. Examples of the former class are well-known, such as Sun, moon, fire, various kinds of lamps etc; The latter class, the internal, would be the psychic apparatus of man, comprising the sense organs, intelligence, intuition and above all the transcendental ‘Oversoul’ of R W Emerson the American philosopher. Vedanta too subscribes to such a transcendental super-conscious entity, illumining all, comprehending all and all-encompassing supreme Brahman. Flashes of intuition reveal discoveries which remain obscure prior to such overpowering experiences. Archimedes, crying out ‘eureka – eureka’ and Newton, when the apple fell and the law of gravitation revealed are instances of such intuitions . A deeper mental cloud prevents one from knowing who one exactly is in the ultimate analysis.

There is, in Greek mythology, a river named ‘Lethe’ whose waters, when drunk, would make the drinker profoundly forgetful.. One would forget, who one was, the ‘whence and wherefore’ of one’s own very self. A great philosopher likened our human predicament, to such a state of congenital amnesia, in which we lost our moorings, our “original innocence” as it were. Nescience is the technical term used for this state of primordial ignorance, which is said to cover one’s wisdom, ‘like smoke shrouds the fire or as dust sullies a mirror or as the womb envelops an embryo’ as th bhagavadgiitaa puts it. This is the ultimate darkness which needs for its dispelling, no less a light than that of the ‘Lord’, quoted in the GITA chapterXI-12 ever so stunningly – “if the light of a thousand suns were to blaze forth in the sky all at once, that might resemble the splendour of that exalted Being” – nothing short of an ‘apocalypse’, as it were, a revelation, of something not previously known or realized. Oppenheimer, the nuclear physicist, whose name is associated with the first atom bomb and who was a witness to its detonation.was so awe-struck at the sight that this line of the gItA chapter XI-32 flamed in his mind ” I am the full-blown, the all-destroying Time “. It was an indubitable intimation from the depths of his being and not much later, his intuitive insight was proved right, by the nuclear holocaust, the mayhem and the destruction at Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was cataclysmic in proportion.

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA - DR. SARVEPALLI'S APHORISM EMERGES AT END OF HIS ANALYSIS OF SHANKARA'S INTERPRETATION OF FOUR MAHA VAKYAS OF UPANISHADS.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA – DR. SARVEPALLI’S DISCOVERY OF 5th GREAT APHORISM. IT  EMERGES AT END OF HIS ANALYSIS OF SHANKARA’S INTERPRETATION OF FOUR MAHAVAKYAS OF UPANISHADS(MahaVakya Chatushtaya).

To Sankara, that transcendental spiritual genius, is ascribed a one-stanza poem, by name, ‘ekashlokI’. In it, is encapsulated the pith, quintessence of the celebrated “mahAvAkya’s or the four great Vedic statements, called as such in the Advaita Vedanta. They are culled one from each of the four Vedas those statements or rather ‘truths’ are:

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.

a) ” praGYAnam Brahma, (Rigveda) pristine consciousness is Brahman.

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTA PADMANABHA RAO.

b) ayam aatmaa Brahma (Atharva veda) – consciousness in all its apparent transformations is Brahman,

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.

c) “tat tvam asi” (Samaveda)- You are, in essence, that consciousness, the eternal nitya, the unsullied shuddha, the fully awakened buddha, and unfettered – mukta ; the corollary follows that you are not the ignorant embodied jiiva, which you imagine you are.

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.

d) (“aham Brahma asmi ” (Yajurveda) I am indeed that all-encompassing consciousness.

It is with considerable trepidation that I have dared to translate the ‘mahaavaakya’s for fear that they may suffer the ‘noble transmutation from gold to lead’, in the process.

The order in which they are recounted here is not the temporal order in which they occur in the Veda but they seem, to me, to be the order adopted by Sankara in this small ‘upadesha’ work, namely, the ekashlokii ’ As will become clear in the sequel, what is attempted here is not a word-for-word translation of the Sanskrit texts, not even a paraphrase but rather an unfolding of the traditional thought couched in the highly compressed poem.

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO. HIS ANALYSIS OF SHANKARA'S UPADESHA.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO. HIS ANALYSIS OF SHANKARA’S UPADESHA.

Before reproducing the Sanskrit verse, a short anecdotal account of the poignant scenario in which it is set, would be well in order, One might be tempted to ask ‘why only one verse-an ‘ekashlokI? Had not Sankara composed his shatashlokI of hundred verses and his upadesha sAhasrI of thousand teachings ? After all, what were the extenuating circumstances? As though in answer to such questions, a story is recounted thus: Sankara, on one of his peregrinations, chanced upon a spiritual aspirant who was in the throes of death. bemoaning his fate of his having ro die before he could get his ‘beatitude’. The compassionate master had empathy with the man’s plight and knowing well the shruti declaration that “he who departs from this world without realising the ‘axara‘, the Imperishable entity, is a veritable wretch a ‘kRRipaNa“, the master devised for him the shortest discourse and the ‘ekashlokI was the result. The verse was composed in a frisky meter named ‘shArdUla vikrIditam’ which has four quarters of 19 syllables each, to enable him to pack all the punch at his command, in a single stanza. This imaginative story illustrates the truth that, when an exceptional master and a pupil desperately thirsting for the ‘saving wisdom’ come together, spiritual enlightenment can not be far behind.

The poem runs as follows :-

kiMjyotistavabhAnumAnahanimeraatraupradiipAdikaM.

syAdevaMravidIpadarshanavidhaukiMjyotirAkhyaahi me.

cakShustasyanimiilanAdisamayekiMdhiirdhiyodarshane.

kiMtatrAhamatobhavAnparamakamjyotistadasmiprabho.

Unless the composition is split up at the right places, it would seem baffling at the first sight, to a beginner. The piece is in the form of a catechism or what in modern pedagogy would be called a ‘one on one’ interactive session. There are five question-answer pairs, one affirmation and one authoritative live-wire exhortation of the teacher and a final total concurrence, by the disciple, after his instant transformation. We shall now proceed with what may, euphemistically, be termed an exegesis of the verse. As will be seen in the sequel, what is attempted here is not a word-to-word rendering in to English, nor even a mere paraphrasing of the work; it is rather an attempt to enter to, and to bring out the traditional import of this Vedantic composition, to the extent my limited faculties permit. Much pertinent digression from the text has been indulged in, in the exposition.

The break up of the verse, is as follows :-

Q 1 :kim jyotih tava ? – what is your illuminator? By this question, the teacher is trying to ascertain a ‘baseline’, as it were, of the pupil’s understanding so as to lead him thence to higher levels. This was a well established methodology of spiritual instruction in the days of yore. It may be noted here that the question is a general one with no adjuncts of time or place specified. The student however thinks the question pertains to daytime and to things within his visual range.

A: bhhaanumaan ahani me – The daylight of the Sun sir. This answer establishes that the seeker has his vision riveted on the external objects – the out-going vision, the so-called ‘paraak pasyati’ concept of the KaThopaniShad.

Q 2 : raatrau ? what after Sun-down ? what illumines then ?

A: pradiipa aadikam– light of the various kinds of lamps which includes illumination from the moonlight, bonfires, lighted torches et cetera; it may be noted that the field being covered is still the outer world.

Affirmation : syaad evam. rightly so my dear; here the guru seems to be saying to himself “ Oh my! your answers are correct as far as they go; but they do not go very far. Here is the next question:

Q 3 Ravi diipa darshana vidhau kim jyotih ? Akhyaahi me – Now tell me what enables you to visualize the objects so illumined by the Sun, the lamps etc.Here the preceptor is shifting focus from the outer to the inner world of the mind. Even the sun, the lamps etc. stand in relation of visible objects to the perceiving eye.

A: caxuH– “My eye, sir, is the perceiving light in this context” Now the student is made to understand the eye as the window to his inner cognitive apparatus – the mind.

Q4 : tasya nimiilana adi samaye ? If your eyes are shut, what then? The reasons for the shut-down may be many; one may choose to turn a blind eye like Nelson or to give a more noble example, one may actually be blind like Helen Keller. ‘ The word aadi’ in the Sanskrit original in the above question may include a legion instances The guru is taking the student in to deeper waters here, to turning his mind’s eye inward and enable him to watch the gyrations of his own mind

A: dhiiH, sir, it is my intellect that provides me the illumination necessary for my purposes, I can think thoughts that would navigate the scenes for me

Q 5: dhiyaH darshane (kim) ? you are right again my son! But thought is like a spring or a fountain. There must be some faculty to get to its mainspring its source as it were What ultimate light is it that stands as a ‘witness’ or ‘sAxI’ as it is technically termed, to your cognitive equipment?

A: ‘tatra aham ’ sir, Shorn of the baggage of all acquired accretions, appurtenances and appearances – in short, of all objective super-impositions I stand in all my majestic aloofness, and isolation (kaivalya). as ‘Myself’.

The great spiritual warrior in Sankara has finally drawn the bitterest foe of his pupil -‘the beginning-less spiritual ignorance’ to the edge of the precipice. with a view to pushing it over to its final annihilation. With a solemn and apocalyptic, coup de maître – a masterstroke, he is going to deliver the final push the student would be led to his beatitude meaning perfect blessedness or happiness. In devising this stepwise instruction Sankara has trodden the path of the ancient sages, established for ages. The famous dialogue between the sage YaaGYavalkya and Janaka the king in the BRRihadaaranyaka Upanishad chapter iv-3, the kaTha Upanishad III-10 as also the Bhavadgiitaa chapter III-42 have laid down the same rising hierarchical levels of consciousness viz – sense objects, sense organs, intelligence, intellect and the highest of all the PuruSha- the non plus ultra, higher than Which there can be nothing. To use the those very Sanskrit words pregnant with proven meaning – proven to mystic seers of all creeds and climes in their deepest visions down the millennia – saa kaashThaa, saa paraa gatiH. THAT is the summum bonum the last post.

And what may that stupendous, staggering declaration be ? Let us see that in the next line:-

THE FINAL PUSH : ataH bhavaan paramakam jyotiH Therefore my child, you are verily that Light of lights, which the Vedanta asserts in stentorian voice and peremptory tone- tat tvam asi – THAT THOU ART . It is not the denoted dictionary meanings of the words of the scriptural testimony that will bring the peace that passes understanding but the inner experience of the truth which is transforming in nature.

The finish : tat asmi prabho !!! Oh my master I am indeed that Light of Lights because I have just experienced that ecstatic mystic state, by your bounteous grace. It is another matter if experience of that state is communicated in words only after descending somewhat from those Olympian heights. But at all events he has been raised to that dizzy altitude of sage-hood, the memory of which shall stamp its hallmark on every thought word and deed ever-after.

LIGHT OF LIGHTS
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO. HE DISCOVERED A GEM OF THOUGHT FROM HIS ANALYSIS OF SHANKARA’S “EKA SHLOKI.”
LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.

 

LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO. KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM DISTILLED FROM SHANKARA’S UPADESHA.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS - "TAT ASMI PRABHO" - FIFTH MAHA VAKYA BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.
LIGHT OF LIGHTS – “TAT ASMI PRABHO” – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA DISCOVERED BY DR. SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO.

 

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12 thoughts on “LIGHT OF LIGHTS – TAT ASMI PRABHO – TRIBUTE TO DR SARVEPALLI ANANTHA PADMANABHA RAO

  1. Namaste, sir.
    You may not believe my words – just last night I was thinking of Ekashloki and I so much wanted to know its meaning in full detail. I fervently prayed to Acharya Shankara to please fecilitate this somehow. And Lo, behold! This early morning I stumbled upon this site and went through the article fully. I can not describe my ecstacy on learning the full meaning! My mind is silenced……. I can only say ‘thank you’ to Acharya and to your blessed self for having presented this beautiful, tiny, yet poignant Shloka.

    Shambho Shankara.

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    1. Dear Ms. Latha Vidyaranya,

      Thanks for visiting my blog post. In Indian tradition, we name three Fundamental Orders; 1. God, 2. Soul, and 3. Matter. Adi Shankara is known as founder of ‘Advaita’ School of thought. But, in this Ekashloki, He refers to God as “PRABHU” or LORD, or Supreme Being making clear distinction between Soul, and God. We need to carefully interpret our Vedic Scriptures for they speak about ‘Unity’ or ‘Eikyata’ of God and Soul as denoted by word called “ASMI.” There can be Unity while Soul is not exactly same as God or Prabhu.

      Bhavanajagat.

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      1. Dwaita bhakti may continue in vyavahara plane even after the paaramaarthik realization of Oneness with the Brahman. Out of sheer gratitudinal attitude the jnaani may continue the pooja vyavahaara for apparent loka kalyana. Whereas the falsity of the prapancha and a saakaara Ishwara are firmly ingrained in his antahkarana. Tat asmi prabho is a mahavakya describing the grand monoism tattwa. There is no trace of dwaita in it. When Truth gets expressed through words it can get contaminated. Truth can remain unstained only in the silence of the antahkarana!
        Namaste.

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      2. Thanks for your kind reply. It may be necessary to create phrases attaching meaning to words used. Teacher Madhva is proponent of School of Thought called ‘DVAITA’ or Dualism in which he described five fundamental distinctions. He recommended the path of ‘surrender’ or ‘saranam’ to achieve salvation. Madhva did not approve path of ‘Bhakti’ recommended by Teacher Ramanuja, proponent of School of Thought called ‘VISISHTADVAITA’ or Modified Non-Dualism. Readers may get confused, if words ‘dvaita’ and ‘bhakti’ are combined to coin a new phrase. The term ‘truth’ is defined as a statement that has correspondence with external reality. If I claim a statement is true, the principle called truth has to be verified by using ‘The Correspondence Theory of Truth’, or ‘The Coherence Theory of Truth’. If your statement about truth is correct, no man can utter truth for it gets tainted when a truthful concept is revealed using human speech or language. I am glad that you mention ‘AntaHkarana’ which is described in Indian tradition as, 1.ManaH, Manas, or Mana(Thinking), 2. Buddhi(Intellect), 3. Chitta( Seat of feelings like Kindness), and 4.AHamkara, Self-Pride or Ego. The problem is ‘Antahkarana’ does not have independent existence of its own. Those four functions are manifested in an entity that is breathing or has ‘prana’. Mind and Body have no independent existence of their own. The phrase ‘silence of the antahkarana’ has to be clarified. Kindly tell me as to which of those four functions may have to remain ‘silent’ for understanding truth. Even if all four of them are ‘silent’, is there a requirement for breathing in the process that involves knowing truth? ‘Tat’ may refer to that ‘breathing’ entity, and he claims unity(asmi) with Prabhu who is the Controller of vital, lifeforce called ‘PRANA’. The term ‘false’ or falsity has to be used carefully by describing the reason for false perception. I see ‘Sunrise’ and I see ‘Sunset’. Is that a false appearance? It is not false as it is evidenced by changes in external environment called day and night. But, in reality, Sun shines all the time. In reality, there is no Sunrise or Sunset. If ‘Soul’ describes my reality, my truth, my essence, the Soul operates by synchronizing my body functions with Sunrise and Sunset. Are you suggesting that Soul is true and real, but falsity gets ingrained in ‘antahkarana’?

        Bhavanajagat.

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      3. Sir, you have written that “He recommended the path of ‘surrender’ or ‘saranam’ to achieve salvation. Madhva did not approve path of ‘Bhakti’ ……”.

        Is not Surrender nothing but the culmination of Bhakthi? Unless one has Bhakthi, the thought of surrender does not enter the mind at all.

        You wrote,“The term ‘truth’ is defined as a statement that has correspondence with external reality”

        Truth is ‘trikaalaabhaadhita’, ie, that which is immutable in all the 3 kaalaas, past, present and future and that which has an independent existence. External apparent reality has nothing to with the Advaita defined Truth which is explained by Sri Shankaracharya in this Ekashloki. That which does not undergo any change ever is the Truth. All external things are under the control of Time and hence they become ‘kaalavasha’ and come to an end at one time or the other. Even Sun has its longevity defined by the scientists as some millions of years after which He too dies! But not this all pervading Nirguna, Niraakaara, Nitya, Shudhdha Budhdha Atma or the Self or the Brahman. It has been there in the past, It is there now and It will be there always! It is the substratum upon which the whole world is projected and is withdrawn at the Time of Pralaya.

        You wrote, “Kindly tell me as to which of those four functions may have to remain ‘silent’ for understanding truth.”

        Sir, none of the four functions have to become silent to understand the Truth. If you just can understand that all the four, manah budhdhi, chitta and ahamkaara are ‘jada’ and they can function only with the help of Chaitanya, the Consciousness and it is This Consciousness that is illumining all the four to function, that itself is sufficient. When this is understood, all the chatter of the Antahkarana come to a stand still and Silence dawns.

        You wrote, “is there a requirement for breathing in the process that involves knowing truth? ‘Tat’ may refer to that ‘breathing’ ”

        Breathing also continues with the help of Chaitanya only. Prana is not independent. Without the Chaitanya aiding it, Prana stops. Hence just understand that the Consciousness is the Trigger for the very existence of this world.

        You wrote, ‘Tat’ may refer to that ‘breathing’ entity, and he claims unity(asmi) with Prabhu who is the Controller of vital, lifeforce called ‘PRANA’.

        ‘Tat’ refers to that Jyoti or the Light or the Chaitanya or the Brahman, which is behind all our perception, illumining all our indriyaas and the vishayas that the sense organs perceive. Upon That Chaitanya, the ever present substratum, Prapancha (includes everything that has a name and a form, you and I included) is projected. You can not deny its Existance, nor has it got an independent existence, it is not permanent and hence it is “mithyaa” or “anirvachaniiya” but not ‘asatya’ or non-existant. Like a dream, you experience it, you can not deny its experience, for you would be crying in it or laughing in it and the effect of sweating and a racing heart beat are all felt. Yet the dream is not true, for it has no independent existence other than Manas which in turn depends on the Chaitanya Jyoti to illuminate it.

        You wrote, “If ‘Soul’ describes my reality, my truth, my essence, the Soul operates by synchronizing my body functions with Sunrise and Sunset. Are you suggesting that Soul is true and real, but falsity gets ingrained in ‘antahkarana’?”

        My dear, Soul does not operate synchronizing your body with sunrise and sun set, Soul is a mute witness of all this cosmic drama that has been projected on It. One who realizes the falsity or the mithyattwa of this Drama, what else is there to talk about?? Does not one fall silent???

        All my talking, describing is all done on the Vyavaharic or transactional plane. This is the Vyaavahaaric reality which can be called the Objective reality, which is ephemeral, temporal, subject to Time, not independent, but depends upon that Jyoti Above that transactional plane is the Absolute reality that is beyond Time and space constraints. This is the Ekameva Advitiiya Satya.

        Namaste “WholeDude.”

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      4. Dear Madam,

        Thanks for your kind reply. I keep my conversations open to general public for they get a chance to scrutinize my thoughts carefully. I again remind that terms have to be used carefully after attaching proper meaning.

        The dualism or distinction between Subjective vs Objective Reality is known by distinguishing the identity of the person who knows reality. If reality is entirely in the domain of a particular ‘Subject’, it is Subjective experience and exists during lifetime of that Subject. If reality is verified by an independent observer( Object verifying Subject’s experience), then the knowledge of reality is shared by that observer and it becomes Objective Reality. In medical practice, this is a common experience of reality of human existence. A patient(Subject) shares and describes symptoms of his condition, the doctor(observer) comes to objective conclusions after duly examining and verifying the symptoms stated by Subject.

        Science follows this method of inquiry that demands testing of subjective experience and finding verification for that experience by an independent observer. “True ideas are those we can assimilate, validate, corroborate, and verify.”( William James – The Principles of Psychology) Nothing can be said to be true until the reason as to why it is true is stated.

        Natural Sciences such as Physics, Chemistry, Anatomy, and Physiology provide information about human body and world in which human entity exists. Verification of any claim, demands application of a reasoning process which involves analysis of basic concepts to determine their consistency. I am seeking to clarify your statements by demonstrating relation between the theoretical claim and the observational evidence.

        Your statement about ‘Chaitanya’ or Consciousness could be subjected to a reasoning process in two manners; 1. The Coherence Theory of Truth in which the standard of Truth is the logical consistency of a proposition with a large system of propositions. For example, you may add propositions such as a. Consciousness is a Mental Experience, b. Consciousness is a Sense Experience, c. Consciousness is a physical or bodily experience, d. Consciousness is a Social Experience, e. Consciousness is a ‘cellular’ Experience, f. Consciousness is a ‘spiritual’ Experience. When you speak about ‘Chaitanya’ or Consciousness, I ask you to add more propositions to describe it in terms of mental, sensory, bodily, social, cellular(cells are building blocks of life, of human organism), or just spiritual experience.

        OR, 2. ‘Chaitanya’ or Consciousness can be verified by The Correspondence Theory of Truth in which Truth is viewed as a relation between an idea or proposition and its object. I want to ascertain relationship between the Subject(Sishya of Ekashloki) and the Object of Experience called ‘Chaitanya’ or Consciousness. Who is this Subject?. How do you define this Subject? Is it the entire human organism comprising of trillions of independent, individual, living cells? Is this Subject merely limited to an individual organ like Brain? If ‘soul’ is the operating principle, is it a material principle, or immaterial principle? You have to state that relationship between Soul, Consciousness, and Man(Sishya of Ekashloki). We have to describe basic structures of human body and state their functions to get proper understanding of Ekashloki, a conversation between ‘Guru’ and his disciple or ‘Sishya’.

        Ekashloki involves two distinct entities; 1. Guru, and 2. Student, disciple or Sishya. Since you impart education to others, I am sure that you recognize importance of making distinction or separation, or Dualism called Teacher vs Student. For imparting Knowledge there are two conditions, 1. The Source of Knowledge, and 2. The Seeker of Knowledge. A ‘Teacher’ provides tools to establish ‘Connection’ between The Seeker of Knowledge and The Source of Knowledge. To the same extent, I claim that ‘Soul’ provides that ‘Connection’ between Man(Seeker of Energy for keeping existence) and God(Source of Energy of all Living Things). Human Physiology describes the vital function called Respiration associated with act of breathing. Breathing is described as vital function for human body obtains chemical energy through Oxidation-Reduction Chemical Reactions. Without supply of this energy from an external source, no living function can be supported. Perception of Light does not happen unless the individual is able to breathe on his own. In medical practice, a Surgeon would determine the level of Consciousness by testing patient’s light perception ability; this ability is displayed when pupil constricts when eye is exposed to light stimulus. A person, who is deeply unconscious, fails to respond to this light stimulus. Both perception of light, and consciousness of light stimulus depend directly upon ability to breathe on one’s own effort. A Surgeon who determines that a person is unconscious, gives his first attention to Respiration and uses medical and surgical interventions to support and to restore the vital function of Respiration. We have recorded instances of thousands of people who live while being unconscious for their vital functions are supported.

        I will be pleased to learn from you and kindly share your view on Soul. If man has a soul, where do you find it? How do you examine human body to verify the fact of soul’s presence. For example, Adi Shankara made such a review and shared his insight in six verses popularly known as ‘Nirvana Shatkam’. He rhetorically stated, “Mano BuddhyaHamkara, Chittani na aHam.” He had excluded ‘AntaHkarana’ from identity of Soul. In that context, I refer to Skanda Upanishad, or SkandoUpanishad that states,”Na Nijam Nijavadbhaati, antaHkarana jrumbhanatH; AntaHkarana nasena, samvinmatra sthitO Hari…” If a man is Conscious, we have to still account for his Soul and Consciousness without any concern about mental activities(ManO Chatushtayam) called AntaHkarana. In fact, when a physician examines a patient with head injury or neurovascular accident, no attention is paid to patient’s thoughts, feelings, intellect, and self-pride. Doctor simply ascertains if the patient is breathing on his own or not, can respond to verbal commands, can speak, if the eyes are open or not, and as to how he reacts to neurological stimuli like reflex functions(apart from Light Reflex). We often find victims with a variety of injuries and problems like bleeding, but the first attention goes to Respiration and Breathing.

        In Indian tradition, people greet each other using a term of salutation called ‘NAMASTE’ or ‘Namaskar’ which symbolizes respect and obedience. I have no such concerns and I invite all of my readers to join this conversation to simply share their ideas, views, or analysis of information from any source they choose.

        Bhavanajagat.

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      5. Namaste. Sorry for my ‘disappearance’ for long…….. was busy preparing for an exam. one more to write after another 15 days. but inbetween, to relax the mind, here comes the comment –

        You say, The dualism or distinction between Subjective vs Objective Reality is known by distinguishing the identity of the person who knows reality.

        Sir, you have mentioned the ‘person’ who knows the reality. Here I am talking about an entity that we call Brahman who is the REALITY itself, the illuminator of both the subjective and the objective reality.

        You say, If reality is entirely in the domain of a particular ‘Subject’……………..

        No, Reality is not in any domain. In fact all domains are in that Reality – both the Subjective and Objective realities are encompassed in IT. The Absolute Reality is beyond subjectivity and objectivity. Because of the Light of That Reality we are able to see the apparent Vyaavahaaric Reality.

        We may understand it better with this analogy of a little girl playing house-house.
        For the child playing with all the toys, it is a very ‘real’ game – her subjective reality.
        For the mother and other elders who have been ‘invited’ by the child to visit her house, the game is an ‘objective’ reality.
        The elders ‘know’ the ‘falsity’ of the whole setting – they know the ‘transactional truth’ of this ‘house-house’ game and they play their ‘roles’ of guests invited by the child and appreciate all the ‘eatables’ offered by the child that are in the form of ‘toy biscuits and fruits’.

        Similar is this ‘transactional truth’ of a world-game. For a Jnaani who has realized the Absolute Truth of the Ekamevaadwitiiyam, the world is a game that ajnaanis like I and You are playing thinking it is the Reality. The Jnaani quietly plays His roles in various transactions like I and you and we ajnaanis believe that He is also transacting just like us and there is nothing special about him. But only He knows in His antahkarana the falsity of all the transactions.

        You wrote, “I am seeking to clarify your statements by demonstrating relation between the theoretical claim and the observational evidence”.

        The observational evidence of this world not being present in our dream world and deep sleep state, despite “I” being present in all the 3 states, itself shows the “mithyatwa” of this prapancha. Mithya is the “apparent reality” that is not permananent. Advaita does not deny “prapancha or Jeeva” but only denies reality to them. Here “Reality” is that entity that has independent existence, that does not require the support or does not depend upon another entity for its Existence. We clearly can see that Chaitanya or Consciousness exists inspite of the absence of Prapancha in our deep sleep state, because of which we reclaim the experience of dream and deep sleep states. But can this body-mind complex, that we think is ‘Me’ and in turn ‘the world’, exist without that Consciousness present in me?? Hence the apparent reality or the mithyattwa of this body and the world and the satyattwa of the Chaitanya.

        Any word or any description of this world has to be in the realm of ajnaana only for only a mixture of Atma and Anaantma can only write all this. Any transaction that takes place in the world because of this mixture only. The Pure Consciousness has nothing to say or nobody to convince and the jada deha or the prapancha can not do anything. Only when the two come together the world erupts apparently and all the hullaballoo is released from it. And the ‘Jyothi’ silently witnesses and that Jyothi I Am. It is just a shifting done in the perspective and a firm conviction developed in that Ultimate Truth. And this requires Gurwaanugraha and Ishwaraanugraha and let us pray for their Blessings to remove the Ajnaana.

        Best wishes to all.

        I think I have said it all in my 3 comments and I am afraid I may not have anything new to add to it. Even if I try to write a rejoinder any further, it would just be a rearrangement of ideas and words………… 🙂

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      6. Thanks again for taking time to share your view. Still, we have to get back to the basics of our conversation. I am making a presentation with the presumption that there is understanding of three fundamental orders; 1.God,2. Soul, and 3. Matter. In Indian tradition, we have three Indian Schools of Thought, Advaita, Visishtadvaita, and Dvaita. All of them agree about these three fundamental orders. Please confirm that you agree with these three divisions. Your view will not be clear unless you formulate it on some foundation. But, you are free to deny all such divisions as many people did in the past. They are many people who claim matter does not exist. It is your impression that you have shared your entire view. But, I have not yet understood your view; please tell as to What Exists, Where it Exists,and if there is more than one, tell me as to How those parts are related to each other.

        Man may be fully awake, sleeping, or dreaming. In all of those three states, man is breathing to keep his existence. If I am the observer observing that man, I confirm the fact of man’s existence by observing the act of breathing. That is Objective evidence for Subjective experience of any of those three conditions.

        I like your fascination and deep interest in using terms like ‘light’, ‘illumination’, and ‘Jyothi’. But, the world is conditioned to give experience of both Day and Night. Actually, man cannot keep his existence without help from periods of darkness called Night. Man’s existence is synchronized with alternating periods of Light and Darkness.

        Let us begin one more time. Does matter exist or not?

        With very best regards,

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  2. Sir, you wrote, “Science follows this method of inquiry that demands testing of subjective experience and finding verification for that experience by an independent observer.”
    In this transactional world, any ephemeral knowledge is acquired through our sense organs from the external world. This requires a Triad or “Triputi” of a knower, a thing to be known and the process of knowing. Hence all our experiences involve a knower – known – experience of knowing. Here the knower is the person, the subject, and the known becomes the object. All human knowledge is thus “an object-oriented learning”, where the human mind is the subject. The subject is within and the object of knowledge is outside.
    Hence in understanding the all pervading Brahman also, the person once again makes himself the subject, who is trying to gain this “knowledge of Brahman” keeping it outside of himself. THIS IS THE BASIC FLAW. You can never gain that Knowledge of Brahman as an object to be learnt by the subject you. For Brahman is the subject who is self-illumined and is illuminating all that our senses perceive, including illuminating the very senses first. This self illumined is the Jyothi, the Light of Lights, which is the TRUE YOU or TRUE ME.
    This Light or Knowledge or Self or Atman or Brahman is there in all the three states of mind – our Waking State ‘Jaagrit’, Dream State, ‘Swapna’ state and Deep Sleep State or Sushupti state. It is this Light that is illumining all the 3 states. Whereas, this waking prapancha does not exist in our Dream or deep Sleep States. That itself shows that world disappears from waking State. And the Dream World does not exist in other two states. Hence that is also temporal – Time bound. Whereas the ‘I’ the Light is there through out in the background. This ‘I’ has been there in the past when we were young, is there when we are grown ups, will be there even when we become old. Though the changes are occurring in the body, the sense of ‘I’ remains the same through out as a mute observer of an apparent world. This Light and the I are one and the same. There is no qualitative change in the sense of I. This I is not the body-mind-sense organs, but this I is the Light or the sat-chit. That alone IS.

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    1. Dear Madam,

      I thank you for your kind reply. Most of my readers do not leave comments on my posts and I have no chance to know if they understand as to what I am writing. I request you to use the method called ‘analysis’ to come to understanding of statements. Analysis involves separating or breaking up of any whole into its parts, with an examination of these parts to find out their nature, proportion, function, interrelationship, etc., The method called analysis will help to perform a task called ‘interpretation’, which means to explain the meaning to make information understandable.

      The fact of knowing includes information as to how it is known. Human organism exists on account of implanted knowledge or ‘innate’ knowledge, much of which includes biological information carried by structures called chromosomes and genes. All vital functions of body depend upon using this stored information and there is no requirement for knowing through a process called ‘learned experience’. For example, I do not live in this world for I acquired knowledge of Human Anatomy and Human Physiology. I live because, my body knows and uses knowledge to perform a variety of complex functions where knowing involves knowing and recognizing chemical molecules. Even if I spend my entire lifetime to know as to what my body knows already, my learning process will never finsih.

      In Indian tradition, man is encouraged to know about his own self or to seek self-knowledge in which man is both the observer and the observed. Hence, I divide man into two categories; 1. Self which describes man as a physical, mental, social, moral, and created being, and 2. The Knowing-Self, the part of human organism which knows activities of organism and composes that information and projects relevant information to provide ‘cortical awareness’ of that information. It will be useful to study some basic aspects of anatomy and physiology to know the location of this ‘Knowing-Self’.

      If time permits, you may want to speak to your friends and others to learn about ‘Reticular System’ of Brain Stem which practically composes sensory information, edits it, blocks less useful information, and projects the contents of consciousness to different parts of cerebral cortex where that information is known. For example, mind, the thinking part of brain has no role in visual function as objects visualized are known in an area called visual cortex. The act of imagining light is not a visual function as visual function demands an external source of light that illuminates object that is known by performing visual function.

      Mental activities or states like alertness, sleep, and dream happen if and only if the person is breathing and is able to maintain respiration and circulation functions that provide oxygen and nutrition to brain. Those activities are not independent of breathing activity. In Indian tradition, some practitioners may hold their breath for some time but they cannot put hold on ‘cellular respiration’.

      I would like to hear from you as to how you understand the phenomenon of ‘illumination’. It will help our conversation if you explain your understanding photobiological processes. Photochemical reactions play a vital role in biological systems. The two important photobiological processes are 1. Photosynthesis, and 2. Vision. Both involve photoreception and yet involve different chemical reactions. In vision, light causes a photochemical reaction in the light-absorbing protein, Rhodopsin which results in the production of a neural impulse that is perceived as light. Man perceives light but has no ability to trap that radiant energy. Man’s perception of light is not important to maintain his physiological existence. It is the ability of plants to trap light gives man the ability to visualize light through imagination after Sunset or in the absence of an external source of light like a lamp.

      I am suggesting that you are never alone in any state or at any age of human existence. Existence demands relationship with an external source that maintains existence. The thing called “I” is known only if “I” exists as “I AM.”

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  3. It is just a shifting done in the perspective and a firm conviction developed in that Ultimate Truth. And this requires Gurwaanugraha and Ishwaraanugraha and let us pray for their Blessings to remove the Ajnaana.

    After the initial portion of your comment I have not commented on the rest. You have continued to write about the external sources of Knowledge whereas I continue to talk about the Internal Knowledge, The Knowledge that I Am, and not the Knowledge that gets me an understanding of the world outside.

    Best wishes to all.

    I think I have said it all in my 3 comments and I am afraid I may not have anything new to add to it. Even if I try to write a rejoinder any further, it would just be a rearrangement of already said ideas and words………… 🙂

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    1. Ultimate Reality, Ultimate Truth has to be accounted for in its relationship with man who may exist in a condition called Ignorance or Ajnana. In Indian tradition, three modes of nature(Three Guna) such as Satvic, Rajas, and Tamas or Ignorance. These modes of nature are exhibited when man interacts with external conditions or circumstances of environment in which man finds existence. The mode of nature is reflected in actions and behavior of man such as good, passionate, and ignorant. But, to exhibit any of these three modes of behavior, man has to exist as a living being. The term ‘AJNANA’ or Ignorance is reflected in actions or behavior and has nothing to do with existence. All people, wise, intelligent, good and ignorant fools live for they perform the same living functions. The Blessings, Mercy, Grace, Compassion and Providence are primarily concerned with man’s existence in the world irrespective of his mode of nature.

      Kindly clarify what is the relevance of ‘AJNANA’ or Ignorance in our discussion. I am still trying to figure out your ideas. You may use terms like Learned or Acquired Knowledge which generally a teacher or Guru may impart, and Innate Knowledge or Implanted Knowledge such information found in genes which man uses to perform living functions. How can any man be ignorant if he takes birth only on account of knowledge implanted or innate?

      With very best regards,

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