Advaita Bodha Deepika

Ramana Maharshi

Sri Ramana Maharshi's Life

Sri Ramana Maharshi's Teaching

Devotees of Sri Ramana Maharshi

Books by and about Sri Ramana Maharshi


1990 Edition



Chapter -

I. On Superimposition

II. Apavada - The Removal of Superimposition

III. Sadhana - The Means of Accomplishment

IV. Sravana - Hearing

V. Manana - Reflection

VI. Vasanaksaya - the Annihilation of Latencies

VII. Saksatkara - Realisation

VIII. Manolaya - The Extinction of the Mind




On Superimposition

25. D: All the Sastras proclaim that this samsar is the handiwork of Maya but you say it is of Ignorance. How are the two statements to be reconciled?

M: This Ignorance is called by different names, such as Maya, Pradhana, Avyatka (the unmanifest), Avidya, Nature, Darkness and so on. Therefore the samsar is but the result of Ignorance. 

26. D: How does this Ignorance project the samsar?

M: Ignorance has two aspects: Veiling and Projection (Avarana - Viksepa). From these arises the samsar. Veiling functions in two ways. In the one we say "It is not'' and in the other "It does not shine forth''. 

27 - 28 D: Please explain this.

M: In a discourse between a master and a student, although the sage teaches that there is only the non-dual Reality the ignorant man thinks "What can be non-dual Reality? No. It cannot be''. As a result of beginningless veiling, though taught, the teaching is disregarded and the old ideas persist. Such indifference is the first aspect of veiling. 

29 - 30 Next, with the help of sacred books and gracious master he unaccountably but sincerely believes in the non-dual Real, yet he cannot probe deep but remains superficial and says "The Reality does not shine forth''. Here is knowledge knowing that It does not shine forth yet the illusion of ignorance persists. This illusion that It does not shine forth, is the second aspect of veiling.

31 - 32 D: What is Projection?

M: Though he is the unchanging, formless, Supreme, Blissful, non-dual Self, the man thinks of himself as the body with hands and legs, the doer and experiencer; objectively see this man and that man, this thing and that thing, and is deluded. This delusion of perceiving the external universe on the non-dual Reality enveloped by it is Projection. This is Superimposition.


3 - 4 To avoid confusion, everything in the world can be considered by analysing its individual characteristics under the categories; cause, nature, effect, limit and fruit. But the transcendental Reality being non-dual is beyond all these whereas all else, from Maya onwards, being wrongly seen on It, are subject to the above analysis. 

18 - 20 D: What is the 'effect' of Maya?

M: It consists in presenting the illusion of the jiva, Isvara and jagat on the non-dual substratum of Brahman, by virtue of its veiling and projecting powers.

D: How?

M: As soon as the power lying dormant shows forth as mind, the latencies of the mind sprout forth and grow up like trees which together form the universe. The mind sports with its latencies; they rise up as thoughts and materialise as this universe, which is thus only a dream vision. The jivas and Isvara being its contents are as illusory as this day-dream.

D: Please explain their illusory character.

M: The world is an object and seen as the result of the sport of mind. The jivas and Isvara are contained in it. Parts can be only as real as the whole. Suppose the universe is painted in colours on a wall. The jivas and Isvara will be figures in the painting. The figures can be only as real as the painting itself. 

30 - 32 D: What is the limit of Maya?

M: It is the knowledge resulting from an enquiry into the sense of the Mahavakya. Because Maya is Ignorance, and Ignorance subsists on non-enquiry. When non-enquiry gives place to enquiry, right knowledge results and puts an end to Ignorance. 

39. D: What is the 'fruit' of Maya?

M: That it fruitlessly vanishes into nothing, is the fruit. A hare's horn is mere sound having no significance. So it is with Maya, mere sound without any meaning. Realised sages have found it so.


17. D: Now that samsar has fallen to the lot of the Self, how can it be got rid of?

M: With complete stillness of mind, samsar will disappear root and branch. Otherwise there will be no end to samsar, even in millions of aeons (Kaplakotikala). 

19. D: The scriptures declare that only Knowledge can do it. How then do you say that stillness of the mind puts an end to samsar?

M: What is variously described as Knowledge, Liberation etc., in the scriptures, is but stillness of mind. 

29 - 30 D: How can the mind be made still?

M: Only by Sankhya. Sankhya is the process of enquiry coupled with knowledge. The realised sages declare that the mind has its root in non-enquiry and perishes by an informed enquiry.

D: Please explain this process.

M: This consists of sravana, manana, nidhidhyasana and samadhi, i.e., hearing, reasoning, meditation and Blissful Peace, as mentioned in the scriptures. Only this can make the mind still. 

131 - 133. Similarly by enquiry, the mind readily gains peace and samadhi.

D: What is this enquiry?

M: After hearing from the Guru about the nature of the Self which in the sastras is spoken of as Brahman or Being-Knowledge-Bliss, to gain a clear indirect knowledge, then according to upadesa and by intelligent reasoning to enquire and find out the Self which is Pure Knowledge, and the nonself which is then directly to experience them as different from each other, later on by meditation to extinguish all that is objective, and to absorb into the Self the residual mind left over as non-dual, ends in the direct experience of Supreme Bliss. Here it has been described in brief, but the sastras deal with it elaborately. 

134. This chapter on Sadhana has dealt with these two means, Enquiry and Yoga, for making the mind still. According to his merits an intelligent seeker should practice either of them.


8 - 10. To hear the Supreme Truth, reflect and meditate on it, and to remain in Samadhi form together the enquiry into the Self. They have for their 'cause' (Hetu) the aforesaid four sadhanas, namely, discernment, desirelessness, tranquillity, and desire to be liberated. Which of these is essential for which part of enquiry will be mentioned in its appropriate place. Here we shall deal with sravana. 

68. D: What is the "effect'' of this Sravana?

M: It destroys that veiling part of ignorance which hitherto made one think "Where is this non-dual Self? Nowhere''. To destroy this ignorant conclusion of the non-existence of the non-dual Self is its "effect''.

69 - 70 D: What is the "fruit'' of sravana?

M: When once for all the non-belief in the non-duality of Being is destroyed, no sacred text or tricky argument can make the seeker deviate from his faith. All obstructions to his faith thus removed, he remains steady in his indirect knowledge of non-dual Being. This is the "fruit'' of sravana. 

77. Here ends the chapter on Sravana. The student who reads this carefully will gain indirect knowledge. In order to experience directly, he will seek to know the nature of manasa or reflection.


2. M: Always to direct the thought with subtle reasoning upon the non-dual Self that is now known indirectly, is called reflection. 

3 -4 D: Please tell me its 'cause', 'nature', 'effect', 'limit' and 'fruit'.

M: Discernment of the real from the unreal is its 'cause'; enquiry into the Truth of the non-dual Self is its 'nature'; to tear off that veiling aspect of Ignorance which makes one say "It does not shine forth'' is its 'effect'; the non-recrudescence of this veiling is its 'limit'; and direct experience is its 'fruit'. So say the sages. 

26. D: What is this direct experience?

M: Just as one can clearly distinguish the sun from the cloud hiding it, so also when one can distinguish the Self from the ego, it is direct experience. This is the "fruit'' of reflection. 

55 - 56 Inasmuch as Brahman is impartite, perfect Wholeness, the witness being Brahman must also be impartite, perfect Wholeness. Therefore it is established that the Self is One unbroken Bliss.

D: What is the 'fruit' of this knowledge?

M: To reject the five sheaths and names and forms of objects as something inexpressible, only superimposed on the Reality, illusory, to practice that the substratum, i.e., Brahman of Being-Knowledge-Bliss is the Self and to realise It as 'I am Brahman' with the resulting Supreme Bliss of being the Brahman is the 'fruit' of this knowledge. Here ends the chapter on Reflection. 

57. The wise student who carefully reads and practises it can realise himself as Brahman i.e., Being-Knowledge-Bliss.


7. Wise son, now that you have known what need be known from them, you should efface the impressions left by your studies.

D: What constitutes these impressions?

M: It is the inclination of the mind always to study vedantic literature, to understand, the meanings of the texts, to commit them to memory and constantly be thinking of them. Since this inclination obstructs meditation, a wise man must overcome it with every effort. Next the latencies connected with the world (lokavasana) must be eliminated. 

8. D: What are these latencies?

M: To think, this is my country, this is my family pedigree and this is the tradition. Should any one praise or censure any of these, the reactions of the mind denote the latencies connected with the world. Give them up. Later on, give up the latencies connected with the body also, (dehavasana). 

9 - 13. D: How can this be overcome?

M: By looking with disgust upon all enjoyments as on vomit or excreta and developing dispassion for them, this can be overcome. 
Dispassion is the only remedy for this mad craving. After this, the mind must be cleared of the six passions, namely, lust, anger, greed, delution, pride and jealousy.

D: How can this be done?

M: By (maitri, karuna, mudita and upekssha) friendship with the holy, compassion for the afflicted, rejoicing in the joy of the virtuous and being indifferent to the shortcomings of the sinful.

Next must be effected the latencies connected with the objects of the senses (vishaya vasana) such as sound etc. These latencies are the running of the senses such as hearing etc., after their objects.

23 - 25 This practice is to remain non-dual, solid Being-Knowledge-Bliss, untainted and free from thoughts of reality or unreality, ignorance or its illusory effects, and internal or external differentiation. This is accomplished by a constant practice of modeless (nirvikalpa) samadhi. Here remains the experience of Brahman only.



2. D: Master, now that I have gained direct knowledge by enquiry and my task is finished why should I meditate further and to what end?

8. M: How does this affect the fact? Whether you have known it or not, the witness ever remains Brahman. Your knowledge of the fact has not made Brahman of the witness. Whether the poor beggar knew it or not, the king in the fort was the emperor. His knowledge did not make an emperor of the king in the fort. Now that you have known the witness to be Brahman, what has happened to you? Tell me. There can be no change in you. 

17 - 18 M: 'I am Brahman' means that, after discarding the I - conceit, only the residual being or the pure consciousness that is left over can be Brahman - It is absurd to say that, without discarding but retaining the individuality, the jiva, on seeing Brahman but not becoming Brahman, can know himself as Brahman. A poor beggar must first cease to be beggar and obtain rule over a state in order to know himself as king. 

24. A devotee on uniting with the Lord of his devotion remains blissful, so also the jiva on emerging as Brahman wonders how all along being only Brahman he was moving about as a helpless being imagining a world, god and individuals, asks himself what became of all those fancies and how he now remaining all alone as Being-Knowledge-Bliss free from any differentiation, internal or external, certainly experiences the Supreme Bliss of Brahman. Thus realisation is possible for the jiva only on the complete destruction of the mind and not otherwise.


34. D: How can the mind be extinguished?

M: To forget everything is the ultimate means. But for thought, the world does not arise. Do not think and it will not arise. When nothing arises in the mind, the mind itself is lost. Therefore do not think of anything, forget all. This is the best way to kill the mind. 

40. Now my wise son, follow this advice, cease thinking anything but Brahman. By this practice your mind will be extinct; you will forget all and remain as pure Brahman. 

41. He who studies this chapter and follows the instructions contained therein, will soon be Brahman Itself!

Sri Bhagavan's Feet
Sri Ramanarpanamastu