Starting the teaching and providing an introduction to Saddarshana, Swami Paramarthananda said, this book is a relatively small work of Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi. He was a great Mahatma who lived quite recently in Tiruannamalai. He has presented his teachings in several languages. Saddarshana was originally written in Tamil and called “Ullathu Narpathu” or the One truth in forty verses. The Tamil version is very deep. Vasishta Ganapathy Muni, a disciple of Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi translated this Tamil work into Sanskrit. This book is called Sad- Darshana or Knowledge of the Truth or Brahma Gyanam in forty-four shlokas.
We look upon Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi as a Vedanta Acharya. We don’t know if he had a formal Guru or not. We know he has studied Vedantic texts very well. We also see that content of all his teachings are identical with teachings of Vedas and Upanishads. It can be said that Ramana’s teachings are from Upanishads alone as such he is considered a Vedantist. Some of his followers have tried to create a cult around him saying his teachings are unique and different from traditional teachings. We should avoid falling into this trap. If we go in that direction we will miss a lot.
If, however, we look at him as one of the Vedantic Acharyas and study him in the traditional manner we will get more benefits. Then, we can also call this book a Vedantic text or a Prakarana Granthaha similar to Viveka Chudamani or Tatva Bodha.
Once we have decided this, the method of study is also decided. There is a traditional method of studying of Prakarana Granthaha called Sruthi Yukthi Anubhava. Sruthi means Vedas, Yukthi means reasoning and Anubhava means our experiences in all three states of waking dream and sleep. Anubhava does not mean mystic experience. Every Prakarana Grantha must be approached in this manner.
Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi has his own way of presenting Vedantic teachings. So, we should approach his work as a traditional Vedantic teaching.
The fundamental assessment of Vedanta is that all human problems are due to division (bheda) and duality (dvaita). This idea is beautifully presented in Isha Vasa Upanishad. One who see’s non-duality has no sorrow or conflict or illusions. So, the fundamental lesson of Vedanta is:
Dvaita: is Dukha
Advaita: is Ananda
The next lesson of Vedanta is that division is duality or plurality that expresses in three-fold forms:
- “I”, the Subject, is the individual experiencing this world, a victim of worldly experiences, who gets frustrated and helpless or becomes a Samsari. This localized Subject “I” or Ahmakara is the first division. This division is also known as “Jiva”. It is in first person singular.
- Second is the world “I” confronts. Once I am aware of myself as an individual, next I see the World. It is intimately available to me as an object. This objective world is the second object. It is called “Jagat”, the persecuting world. This is presented as “You” or as an object in the second person singular. You equals the World, includes the living and inert objects, even though we don’t address them (inert objects) as You. Inert objects are also objectifiable.
- Once I am available and the World is available, in case of human beings, a third entity enters the picture. Animals do not have this problem. Animals have only Subject and objects. So, how does the third entity come? When man confronts the world his intellect looks for a cause due to his thinking and enquiring intellect. A tree, a cow etc. does not ask for a cause. If an animal is in pain it suffers without asking. Humans, however, will look for a cause of the pain. I have to hunt the cause. This irresistible impulse is within us. So, we ask, how did the world come into being? How did we come into being and so on?
This introduces the third member called God or Ishwara or cause of the world. This God is not available in front of me for objectification or perception. He is called Adokshaya or not available for perception.
Whatever is not available in front of me is referred to as “He”, the third person. Therefore, we refer to God as Avana-indri. In the famous mantra Sahana Vavatu, Sahana means He. So this is the third person.
Recapping the divisions:
First entity is Jiva.
Second entity is Jagat
Third entity is Ishwara.
All these are called Jiva –Jagat- Ishwara.
This division is cause of the problem.
All three members of the division are interconnected.
Uniqueness of Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi’s approach is that all three members of the division are so interconnected that they always exist together and are interdependent. A common thing connects the three legs such that if you pull one leg others are also pulled with it. We experience this in our day-to-day life. How? In the waking state the “I” is there and automatically the “World” also is there. Once the world comes into existence God as cause also comes in.
Thus, in Jagrat all three divisions exist together.
In Swapana all three divisions again exist together.
In Sushupthi “I” is dissolved and automatically the world is also dissolved. When world is dissolved where is the question of the Third person, God? In this state there is no duality or Abheda.
Swamiji says, either have all three or eliminate all three divisions. Elimination of division means elimination of all three of them, as they are interdependent. With elimination of the World and I, we may agree but Vedanta says God will also be eliminated. Vedanta apparently appears as a Nastika philosophy here. We should note that localized God is as much finite as localized Jiva.
This is the Jiva-Jagat-Ishwara nivrithi. How does one eliminate the Bheda of all three? We have to find the cause and eliminate it. Without cause elimination we will remove only the symptoms. We should try to remove cause of Bheda. As per Vedanta, division is caused by Ignorance. Ignorance is the cause. If so, Ignorance is the cause of what? Ignorance of Jiva, it is an effect. Ignorance of Jagat is also an effect. Ignorance of Ishwara is also an effect of Ignorance. If this is true then, Ignorance must be something other than Jiva-Jagat-Ishwara. Ignorance, the cause of division, is also the cause of the division-less entity.
What is the division-less entity? Whose Ignorance is the cause of Jiva-Jagat-Ishwara Bheda? Vedanta has several answers. Bhagawan Ramana Maharishi’s answer is that it is the Existence principle in the division-less entity or Sat or Brahman in Vedanta. In Chandogya Upanishad, in Dakshina moorthy stotram, the question of what is the Existence principle is raised?
Existence or Is-ness is not a part, product or property of Jiva, Jagat or Ishwara. Then what is it? It is an entity different from all the three but pervades all the three of them. By pervading all three of them it lends existence to all three of them. This inherent Existence is the division-less principle, which is the truth of all the three. This division-less, one Existence alone, with nama and roopa appears as Jiva, Jagat and Ishwara. Once known, this division-less Existence is called Saddarshanam. When one gets the Saddarshanam, ignorance goes away. With that, ignorance of division goes away. With that , the division also goes away. Jiva-Jagat-Ishwara also thus disappears.
Here, when we say all three are eliminated, it means understanding them as one Sat (existence) with three different Nama’s and Roopa’s.
After understanding also the nama roopa bheda continues. We now realize that the bangle, chain and the ring are not three substances but they are one substance appearing as three Nama’s and Roopa’s. Vyavahra continues and transactions continue, but the problem will not continue. Loosing sight of understanding the division-less is the problem. Misunderstanding the division is the problem. If one understands this life is wonderful.
To arrive at this understanding where should we search for the division-less?
You can search any one of the three divisions and the underlying truth will come out. Which one of them is easy to search? Aham is always available. So engage in Ahamkara and arrive at Sat that permeates it. Once Ahamkara’s nama and roopa are eliminated all three divisions are also eliminated.
Ahamkara Vichara can replace Ishwara Vichara and Jagat Vicahra, as it is the easiest one. Hence the “Who am I” enquiry, as it takes one to Ahamkara Adishtana. This is the truth.
With Best Wishes,