Meditation and Vruthi Gnana

Realization of Brahman as ones own SELF, “So – Ham’’ is accomplished
By Reflective Thought Process called “Vruti Gnana’’. Mind is the instrumental in the process. Out the four functional phases of mind viz. Ahankara ( Ego ), Chitta (Remerging-forgetting), Budhi (Intellect), and Manas (Emotive feeling), it is the Chitta which is effective instrument to trace and experience Brahman the substratum of three phases of consciousness of waking, dream, and sleep.

In Vedanta, the path leading to Self-Realisation consists of three steps Viz.

  1. Sravana:- First an aspirant has to hear about the Ultimate Reality from a learned Vedantin, who should also be a Brahmanishta.
  2. Manana:-Cogitation: After hearing the aspirant should ponder over what he has heard, analyze and asses it through reasoning and come to a firm conviction that it is the supreme goal to be achieved in life.
  3. Nididhyaasana:- Contemplative Meditation: It is also called Jnana – Nishtha, most important stage leading one directly to self realization. In this process the Anthakarna consists of (a) Ahankara, (b) Chitta, (c) Buddhi, (d) Manas plays a vital role.
    1. Anthakarna is a ray-“Vritti“; the Ego, Chitta, Buddhi, Manas are all different types of vrittis (emanations) all of them together called “Anthakarna“ emanating upon the Pure Consciousness- Brahman. Its four aspects are:--
      Ahankara:- When Self expresses the first to emanate is the basic notion ‘i’ and is called as ego. This ego seeks Self Realization. Ego stands behind the Manas, Buddhi, and Chitta, witnessing their functions.
      Remaining as the substratum of all these emanations of Anthakarna, is the Real SELF, Sakshi or SELF.
    2. Chitta : It is the remembering and forgetting faculty of our consciousness (Sub-conscious mind). The knowledge that Buddhi churns out is stored up by the Chitta in the background of consciousness by “forgetting’’ process and is brought to the fore front of consciousness when needed by memory or remembrance - “Smruti’’. Thus, forgetting and remembrance are two fold functions of Chitta.
    3. Buddhi ( Intellect ):-It is called “Nischyaatmika’’. It is this that decides an issue and gives orders to Manas to do or not to do. The Manas collects the impressions from five sense organs and collates them in to ideas or notions. These impressions in the form of ideas are then supplied to Budhi which either accepts or rejects. Only these ideas which the Budhi accepts make the knowledge that we have. Even what is taken in as knowledge is not kept by the Buddhi itself, but transferred to Chitta for storing. The Chitta takes it away from the forefront of consciousness and puts it in the background. This is called “Apohana’’.

    4. Manas :- The Manas, functioning with the senses organs serve as a sensitive plate upon which the impressions gained by senses are imprinted.
      Though, those are classified as different aspects of “Anthakarna’’ these are not separate entities but are one and the same emanation expressing diversely and fulfilling distinct functions in an organized and orderly way.
      The Ego expresses in two ways during the wakeful and dreaming states:
  4. Awarna : Screening or veiling off the very SELF from which it has emanated i.e. Atman just like moss or scum covering a water pond.
        During deep sleep the Ego takes the form of a covering of unconsciousness and veils off the Atman. During waking and dreaming states veiling is partly removed, but as it is assuming the form of notions and thoughts, these do not allow us to peep in to Atman.

    Therefore to merge in to Atman the mind, retaining full consciousness, should remain Thoughtless.

  5. Vikshepa : It is projecting or expressing forth something other than Atman itself. The expression splits in to – “Karana’’ i.e. “Cause’’ and “Effect’’ or in other words “Subject and Object“ .
  6. During Sleep the projecting aspect is withdrawn by Ego and only the Veiling aspect remains. That is why, you are free of thoughts during sleep. You are not conscious of the Atman. When you are wake up the ego or I notion comes out first, and there after Budhi,, Manas, Body, and the world. The Karana (Subject) remains, the “Karya’’ (Object) going back in to Karana.

The Ego witnesses the world, the thoughts, the functioning of Budhi, and Chitta, in waking and dream states. But it does not and cannot witness itself, or the Atman, the origin of its emanation. Atman alone witnesses all. It witnesses not only the waking, and dreaming states, but also the deep sleep state. Man has Sukha (Happiness), and Dukha (Misseries) when the ego experiences as the Mind. When this expression is withdrawn in sleep he can feel neither, Sukha or Dukha.

A thorough knowledge of the working of the Anthakarna is called “Vrutti Jnana.’’
This knowledge is positively required for Jnana Nishtha’’ A Mind which associates too much with body and senses, becomes gross and hence unfit for having Vritti Jnana. The Ahankara can function in two ways. It can either turn to the external world for objective knowledge and experience or it can turn within itself i.e. “Pratyabhi Jnana or “Prati-Prasava

Pure Consciousness is the subtlest of the subtle and its emanations—the Ego, Chitta, budhi, Manas, Body and the world are grosser and grosser in that order. By the process of “Pratyabhi-Jnana’’ all these must recede and merge in pure Consciousness from which they have originated.

If we are to remember our deep sleep, which is beyond the Manas and Budhi it can be done by the process of “Pratyabhijnana’’ and the instrument to be used here is “Chitta’’. During sleep a trace of the Chitta remains in our consciousness. Chitta alone is equipped to recede back in to our consciousness and merge in its origin. It is this Chitta which remembers the sleeping experience. This capacity of involution of the Chitta has to be developed in order to attain to attain Jnana. We normally acquire knowledge through the Manas, Budhi. What is received by Budhi, as wisdom is handed over to the Chitta. The Chitta just takes it, puts it in the background of consciousness and then the whole thing is forgotten. What is forgotten is brought back to the Memory when we require it.

What is the technique we adopt unconsciously when trying to remember a forgotten thing? While recalling a forgotten thing you question----what is that? Repeatedly. The enquiry goes on internally as a “Vrutti’’. The ripples on Manas and Budhi, stop – enquiry stops; there just blankness—all Vruttis ceases, even the Chitta stops its function and there is utter quite. At this stage what you are trying to remember suddenly flashes forth in your memory i.e. it comes to the forefront of consciousness. Thus, when you try to remember, you forget every thing, before what is forgotten flashes forth.

In the Anthakarna, there can be only one Vritti at a time. This is very curious feature. Chitta Vrutti, Budhi Vrutti, and Mano Vrutti are certain features or aspects of the same consciousness with no division line between them. Of them Mano Vrutti is the grossest and Chitta subtlest. When one of them rises the other two do not. In Meditation you have to utilize Buddhi Vrutti, till you locate the “SAKSHI’’ and then the Chitta Vrutti for remembering that.

How to Meditate :-- First hear Vedanta and with your intellect understand that behind Jagrath, Swapna,and Sushupti, there is a witness. Adopt a comfortable posture. Try to produce a “Buddhi’’ Vrutti by affirming “That all- pervading Infinite Consciousness am I’’. The shortest Mantra containing this meaning is “So-Ham’’—That Infinite Consciousness am I “.

When you repeat mentally “Soham“ the Anthakarna will be having just one Vritti. It cannot be Mano-Vrutti because the Mind can operate only in association with one or other sense organs and in this case there are no sense organs functioning. Again, it cannot be Chitta Vrutti, as you are not trying to remember anything, for you have not located the Self yet. It is only a Buddhi Vrutti.

In the beginning you will not be able to integrate the meaning of “Soham’’ with the word. But as you progress, you will be able to by practice of repetition of word and its concept, Whenever you walk, sit, eat, or do any work that does not needmental attention go on repeating to your self “Soham’’ and its meaning that “All Pervading infinite Consciousness am I “. Thus as you go on associating them, the word and its meaning get integrated. There after you should just chant “Soham’’ and its meaning and Bhava will automatically be there in you. It is then a Budhi Vrutti. “So-ham’ thus becomes a Bhava, innate feeling by itself.

In the initial stage, the Soham vrutti cannot be maintained continuously even for a few minutes. It will project then subside, then project again and again subside. After some time without your knowledge the Soham vrutti will stop and other vruttis will arise. Then you may discover that the mind has strayed, a sudden awareness for a fleeting fraction of a second that Soham has gone and other thoughts have come. That thing which witnesses the straying of the thoughts ( Mind) cannot be the Mind—( e.g. if I am able to witness you, it is because I am not you; if you are witnessing me you are not me I ). That Principle is the Self and the Awareness you have then is an expression of the SELF, for example, at dawn, “Arunidaya’’ there is twilight, even though the sun is not seen, there is a diffused light then. Similarly this expression is the “Arunodhya of Self’ Self is just beyond that revelation or expression or just at the back of it. Once you know that “That is the SELF’’ , your Soham is no longer a Buddhi vrutti but one of remembering that, i.e. Chitta Vrutti.

The Chitta now remembers that flash and repeats feeling intensely - “Soham - Soham, Soham’’. This is the introversion or “Prathyabhignana’’ process of Chitta. During this remembering process, suddenly the mind will stop. The moment Chitta turns introvert, you forget every thing. You will be conscious, but there will be blankness –a state of thoughtlessness. You will be aware of that thoughtlessness state. Then the Self, which you are trying to remember, suddenly flashes forth. You just merge in the Pure Consciousness, in Pure Bliss.

Many people do not practice this remembering technique called “Anusandhana’’ – consecutive, remembering. When you do so, you may not succeed in remembering the Self all the time you are at contemplation. You will be able to remember only for some time- then that too will go away and the “Buddhi-Vrutti“ will intervene. When you repeat “So ham’’ a hundred times ninety five times it may be onlybe the “Buddhi-Vrutti’’. Do not worry or get agitated on that score. Do not indulge in self-condemnation.

The nature of the Mind is such that it will stray and wander. Keeping to one single thought is against its general nature. You must contemplate for at east one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. When you are feelingly chanting “ So-ham,So-ham’’and a “Buddhi-Vrutti“ replaces it with ought your knowledge, do not despair. When you became aware that you have strayed repeat again calmly,effortlessely,and joyfully “Soham-Soham“. By constant practice Chitta- Vrutti will be increasing and “Buddhi-Vrutti“ will be decreasing. When So-ham as Chitta-Vrutti continuous to remain even for five minutes the mind has definitely to got to stop. Still you may or may not have “Nirvikalpa Samadhi, but a sort of “Jeda Samadhi’’ will be there. This would mean that there are still vasanas to be got rid off. This can be done only by practicing Vedanta in the wide world—in the office, at home, while eating, thinking, and dealing with other people.

Jnana Nishtta has to be practiced in two ways-- (1) The first way is to regularly meditate for one or more hour both morning and evening, and also whenever possible. This will develop the Chitta strength. This is called “Jnana Abhyasa’’. (2)-The second way is to practice “BrahmaAbhyasa’’ particularly during your waking hours. You should do it when the karmendriyas work or remain occupied, e.g. walking, eating, etc. But when jnanedriya is functioning “Soham-vrutti’’ will stop, this is because along with the jnanadriya the Manas must function and when Manas operates the Chitta-Vrutti can not come there. Karmendriyas, however function independent of the Manas and hence Chitta-Vrutti can be practiced during their operation, e.g. walking; but while reading Soham vrutti cannot be practiced, if you do the reading will automatically stop by the intervention of the Budhi or Mano vrutti

By these two methods viz. Jnaana Abhyaase and Brahma Abhyaasa the vassanas can be got rid of.Vassanas come because of the force of Raaaga,Dwesha ,Bhaya.They come as reactions when we act in the world. At such times
repeat “Soham“ Jnaana Abhyaasa and Brahma Abhyaasa must be practiced simultaneously.

Without constant and unbroken practice, the attainment of Atman is impossible.
Nitya Abhyasa means meditating for twenty four hours. Even in sleep you can practice this. In sleep, only Buddhi and Mano Vrittis subside. The Chitta however can remain awake and that is the reason why dreams take place. When you go to bed command Chitta to repeat “Soham” and sleep. Thoughts stop and sleep suddenly overtakes you. Since vasanas are stopped in the Chitta (sub-conscious) by this process, dreams can be avoided and all dirt in subconscious be cleaned. When you wake up the first thought in the mind will be “Soham’’. Thus through out the night the “Soham” Vritti must have been there in the Chitta, This way you can easily attain momentum in Jnaana Sadhna and thus realize the self.

Many persons purifying themselves through “Jnana Tapas” have attained me the Ultimate Reality”(Gita). Don’t think that Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Ramana Maharshi alone have been Jnanis. They were Loka Gurus Jnanis who had also the function of being the teachers of the world. There are many other realized persons who are not well known. They remain content in their own realization and only the persons going very close to them can understand their elevated state . May you all practice Jnana Abhyasa and Brahma Abhyasa and attain eternal Bliss and Immortality.

After studying Vedanta, you came to the conviction that you are the infinite self. This is only yet a theoretical conviction not are practical experience. You still feel yourself to be physical, Mental and intellectual personality though you Buddhi knows it to be otherwise. It is at this stage you need the constant reminder of yourself regarding to your true self. This remembering of the Atman is done in two ways 1) Anusandhana 2) Nididhyaasaana .

  1. Anusandhana: When ever you deal with a work in the world, continuosly remember “who is working? The body not I” Who is having Sukha and Dukha? The Manas not I ” Thus learn to disassociate yourself always from the characteristics and functions of the body, Manas and Buddhi. At the time of actions, reactions, troubles and agitations, Passions and desires remember constantly your personality – “Soham Soham” - That infinite reality I am” It is not to be mechanical repetition, but a living dynamic remembrance with Bhava a feeling of the Aatman –that is beyond all these things that is the versy substratum of all these expressions .It is meant to be a signal for the mind to have Aatmabhaava, to remember the Aatman you are.

    This you must do all through the day at the office, home, market, club, road Where ever the activity of the day may take you. Remember that physical pains can affect your body ; Sukha and Dukha affect only your Manas ; Honor and Dishonor only your intellect fond get involved in what concerns there you are body, Manas, Budhi, this disassociation of your true self from your apparent personality helps to rid you of your Vasanas , worldly traits and tendencies. When the karmendriyas or motor organs are at work you can remember the self simultaneously. When the Jnaanendriyas or sense organs act it is not possible to do so for the mind must be alert to gather in the external sense perceptions .

  2. Nididhyaasaana: This has already been discussed. As you go on practicing these two forms of remembrances regularly and sincerely, the mind gradually becomes pure and rarified till suddenly one day you get a flash of Samadhi a Aatmajnaana. It will be the blissful pure consciousness, all pervading fully satisfying. That experience will be so profound that there can be no mistaking it. After the first Samadhi then you come back to the normal worldly consciousness, the one great difference in your personality will be the absence of the ego and the body mind centric attitude. Any trace of ego which may remain even after the first Samadhi gets completely wiped out on repeated Samadhis. From now on the efforts to attain Samaadhi again can’t be called meditation but Samaadhi Abhyaasa. A state comes when it becomes Sahaja; permanent a habitual, when you know that the Atman alone is real. Atman alone is manifested as the whole universe and that there is nothing but Atman.

Before realization the ego was chanting “Soham“? When the ego has disintegrated who is to say Soham and for what?

{ Ref:-- “Prabodha- Sudha’’ by Swamy Purnananda Tirtha: “JNANA ASHRAM PARLIKAD’’ , WADAKANCHERI, TRISHI District, Kerala; 1968 }