Kaivalya Upanishad, Class 8


Greetings All,

Continuing his teaching on Kaivalya Upanishad, Swamiji says, in previous class we discussed Nididhyasanam and then Brahmaji discussed the Gyana Phalam as well. Gyanam is the only means of liberation. Are other sadhanas not useful if they do not lead to liberation? They are useful for preparing the mind but not for liberation. Karma Yoga, Japa, Puja etc. purify the mind. There are several margas for purifying the mind. One should use a method that one prefers for such purification. Puja and service to humanity are all aspects of this purification process. However, after purification, one still has to come to Vedanta sravanam, mananam and nidhidhysanam. It is just like a temple that has many doors to enter. However, there is only one door to God.

Shloka # 11:

In this shloka sravanm and mananam are discussed. Brahmaji has already discussed nididhyasanam. He is clearly not following the normal order of such things.

The pursuit of self-enquiry is called Atma Vichara. You cannot look directly into the Atma. One can do so only through the Shastras. A mirror is for looking at your self. Darpana darshanam is looking at your self. Looking into the shastras is also the same. You are looking at your self. Shastra Vichara is Sravanam and mananam.

Here an anlogy is used. The bow and arrow analogy was used in the mundaka Upanishad to describe the self, the jivatma and Paramatma. In Katho Upanishad the chariot analogy was used. Here self-knowledge is compared to a fire. Sri Krishna also used the fire analogy in the Gita. That is the reason in every Hindu household we start the day by lighting a lamp, usually performed by the lady of the house. Lamp represents knowledge.

So, what is common between gyanam and agni? Fire removes ignorance and darkness also called Aavaranam. Darkness makes something existing as non- existing as it is not visible anymore. Light removes the darkness and brings the object back to light.

Ignorance here is Atma        A-gyanam. Benefit of Atma knowledge is shanthi or (nimmadi-tamil). Without knowledge of Atma, poornatvam, internal security etc. disappear. Once ignorance is destroyed Atma is discovered. With this discovery our struggles in life come to an end. Samsara is destroyed. Karmas are also destroyed.


  1. Agni destroys everything, so also gyanam destroys samsara.
  2. Fire illumines everything. So also Gyanam illumines something we did not know before.

In this shloka the fire’s destructive aspect is brought out. In this shloka,the process of producing a fire and producing knowledge are described and shown as similar.

Sacred fire is produced during a yagna. Two Arani woods are used. One is called Adho Arani or lower piece with a hole in it. The upper piece called Uttara Arani is a rod that fits into the hole. Then, by churning the upper rod, sparks are created. Coconut husk or cotton is used now to kindle a fire from the spark.

For acquiring knowledge too churning has to be performed. The Adho Arani here is the mind of the student.  It has to be steady.

Uttara Arani, the upper rod is the shastra Vakya or Omkara. Churning is the analysis of shastra Vakyam. The six lingams analogy was cited. The Guru helps in the analysis or churning. Out of this sravanam and mananam churning spark of knowledge is produced. The spark has to be protected and nourished through the nidhidhyasanam process of recollection by the student.

Once the spark becomes a conflagration it will spread like a forest fire and burn everything in its path.

Defining some terms in the shloka:

Atma here means mind and it must be dry with Vairagyam. It must also be steady, as it is like a lower Arani.

Pranavam here means Omkara or shastric statement is like the upper Arani or the rod.

Gyana nirmathanam means churning of gyanam or analysis of shastric statement and practices by which the spark of knowledge rises.

Panditaha: Possessor of knowledge. Panda means Gyanam.

Pasham means shackles such as Ahamkara, Karmas etc.

Therefore, may you perform enquiry of your Self.

Shloka # 12:

A sample process for performing a shastric enquiry is now described. Shlokas 12 through 22 describe this process.

The conscious principle described in shloka # 6 is all pervading. It is called Atma (Aapnothi Sarvam or all pervading). Even though the Atma is one, it manifests through a medium and takes on the appearance of the medium. Thus, the same electricity flowing through one bulb is dull but through another one is bright. Along the same lines the reflection of my face in a convex mirror is different from that in a concave mirror. My face did not change.

Thus, the conscious principle, when it manifests through an inferior medium (body, mind, thought complex) appears as Jivatama.

The same conscious principle, when it manifests through a superior medium (utkrishta upadhi) appears as Paramatma.

Please note the inferiority and superiority do not belong to the Atma but belong to the medium.

Citing another example:

One water is called a wave, a smaller version.

One water is called the ocean, a bigger version.

Ocean is the cause of the wave. Wave is the effect of the ocean.

Water is neither. It is just water.

Thus conscious principle is neither cause nor effect.

This is the process of enquiry. Instead of identifying with the medium (higher or lower) identify with the Original Consciousness.

Shloka # 12:

First the teacher talks about Atma manifesting through an inferior medium as Jivatama.

The Atma, I, have identified with the sharirams (three of them). This results in many types of karmas. The “I” becomes a karta to become a bhoktha. He then enjoys or experiences with his wife (connotes all human relationships) and all non-beings (food, drinks etc.) as well. All this occurs in the waking state. All these experiences get recorded as well. Jivatma thus goes through experiences in all three avasthas (waking, sleeping and dreaming).

With best wishes,

Ram Ramaswamy