All pairs of opposites and triads shine, taking the support of some entity. When that is searched, all will get dropped. To them who see the Truth, there is never any wavering.
The idea given in this verse is self-inquiry always means atma vichara, even though we can loosely describe it as ahangara vichara:
- Atma vichara will lead to atma gyanam
- Atma Gyanam will lead to destruction of atma agyanam
- Atma agyanam is all the errors committed regarding atma; Destruction of these errors is technically called adhyasa nasa. These errors are called ahangara. The false I, born out of ignorance of real I, is ahangara.
When the rope in front of me is not clearly known, there is rope ignorance. Rope ignorance leads to snake. The rope is the subtracturm of the snake. You tackle the snake by inquiry into rope adhishtanam. Never attack unreal always attack or inquire into the real adhishtanam. Rope inquiry will lead to rope knowledge. Rope knowledge will lead to rope ignorance destruction. Rope ignorance destruction will lead to the destruction of snake knowledge. In the place of rope, we have atma and in the place of snake we have ahangara. Once ahangara is destroyed, all forms of dualities (subject and object) and thirupidies or triads (subject, object and instrument) are destroyed. Thirupudi and dwandams are unreal and require an adhistanam or substratum, which is atma vasthu.
All dwandas or pair or subject object pairs are born out of ahangara. All of them are supported by atma. If these unreal dwandam or triads are to be destroyed, don’t attack the ahangara; attack the adhishtanam, the support which is atma. No dream activity will remove the dream; you must wake up to destroy dream. Similarly, to destroy ahangara, you need to get the knowledge of atma. When knowledge comes, ignorance go away; when ignorance go away, all the unreal dvaida and triad get resolved. This results in the establishing the adhishtanam, atma.
In this instance, Ramana Maharishi only talks about the significance of atma vichara and not the procedure for atma vichara. Any pursuit requires employment of appropriate instrument for the pursuit of knowledge. For example, to know the color of crow you need eyes. Simple process of questioning will not generate knowledge. For atma vichara, the regular instruments (mind and sense organs) are incapable, insufficient and irrelevant. They are extrovert, turned outside. The instrument of atma vichara is guru sasthra upadesa. Inquiring to atma is exposing to traditional teaching or Vedanta vichara. The procedure for atma vichara is vedanta sravana manana nidhidhyasanam.
If there is no ignorance, how does knowledge shine? Without knowledge, does ignorance shine? And whose are the two? Thus, having inquired, abidance in the original nature is the knowledge of the Truth.
If darkness is the problem, light is the only solution. Similarly, to remove ignorance (internal darkness), gyanam is the only solution. Gyanam is a relative entity falling within duality, opposing ignorance and therefore gyanam is also mithya. You can’t conceive of gyanam without the concept of ignorance and therefore knowledge and ignorance also come under Dvaidam. Arrival of one displaces the other. Initially we should pursue gyanam and destroy ignorance and after gaining gyanam we should disown gyanam because claiming gyanam is also a form of ahangara. You should say I am the adhishtanam of gyanam and ignorance and different from both. If knowledge, vidhya is also a mithya, why should I pursue it? Vidhya mithya is required to remove avidhya mithya. Once avidya is removed, you should disown both. It is like using soap to remove dirt. You apply the soap to remove the dirt but after that you wash off the soap. Similarly, to remove ignorance, you obtain knowledge. But after removing the ignorance, you disown knowledge.
Both gyanam and agyanam are associated with ahangara and this is the real knowledge. Gyana nishta is the availability of this knowledge, effortlessly. We can recall our phone number, names etc. when needed, without any effort. Gyana Nisha is the availability of gyanam effortlessly.
Can that be true knowledge when the knower does not know himself? To one who knows oneself, the support of knowledge and the object of knowledge, the two will vanish.
Without understanding ourselves, we are trying to understand one anatma after another. Without knowing about oneself, knowing about everything else is a fruitless pursuit. Apara vidhya is as good as avidhya (ignorance). Apara vidhya, without para vidhya is mithya. Atma alone functions as a knower, without knowing that knower, all other knowledge is false.
Knowledge of anatma is not useful because:
- It is knowledge of anatma and anatma being mithya and knowledge of a mithya will not be a great knowledge.
- Anatama gyanam will not free the individual from the sense of limitation which is the problem of samsara.