Dakshinamurti Stotra, translated by Alladi Mahadeva Sastri, , at sacred-texts.com
To Him who, by means of the blessed symbol, manifests to the disciples the True Self that always shines within as the Ego, Constant in all the varying states of infancy, (manhood, and old age), of jagrat (svapna and sushupti) and so on; to Him who is incarnate in the Teacher, to Him in the Effulgent Form Facing the South, to Him (Siva) be this bow!
The blessed symbol here referred to is variously named as follows: Chinmudra, the symbol of consciousness; Vyakhya-mudra, the symbol of exposition; Tarka-mudra, the symbol of investigation; Jnana-mudra, the symbol of wisdom. It consists of a circle formed by joining the thumb and the index-finger at their tips.
1. Question: If it be concluded, on the strength of pratyabhijná or recognition of self-identity, that Atman is a persistent entity, (we ask), what is this pratyabhijná? and what its purpose?
2. Pratyabhijná is not enumerated among pramánas—right sources of knowledge—along with pratyaksha, etc. How can it be a pramâna? The questioner is enlightened (by the seventh stanza of the Hymn).
The meaning of the stanza may be explained as follows:
3. Pratyabhijnána consists in recognising a thing—in the form 'this is the same as that'—which, having once before presented itself to consciousness, again becomes an object of consciousness at present.
4. Just as (in the case of external objects) an identical thing which is continuously present is referred to in the words "this is that"—all the accidental circumstances of place, time and form being left out of account,—so also:
5. The pratyabhijnána of Atman consists in His becoming conscious that He is omniscient, etc., after casting aside the notion that He is of limited knowledge,
and so on,—a notion engendered by His association with Mâyâ.
That is to say, the recognition of Atman's self-identity consists in the intuitive realisation of His essential nature as the infinite Consciousness and infinite Bliss, after eliminating all limitations of Maya and its effects ascribed to Him by the ignorant.
6. By a recollection of the experience in a former birth, the new-born animal proceeds, of itself, to suck the mother's milk.
Thus, just as Atman remains the same through all the varying states of jagrat, svapna, and sushupti, unchanging though the body changes in infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, and old age,—so, too, He continues the same while passing in succession through the bodies of Devas, animals, men, and so on,—not born when the bodies are born, not dying when the bodies die.
7. It is, therefore, concluded that Atman exists the same even in other bodies,
inasmuch as, without the recollection of a former experience, it is not possible for the child to suck the mother's milk.
Pratyabhijna is thus a source of right knowledge; and it may be brought under pratyaksha; only its process is somewhat different from other kinds of pratyaksha. While in other kinds of pratyaksha the contact of the sense-organ with the object is alone sufficient, in pratyabhijnana, smriti or recollection operates as an additional factor along with the contact of the sense-organ with its object. Bhranti or illusion, for example, is indeed classed under pratyaksha, though it is produced by the sense-organ in a morbid state.
8. Present both before and after, both at the time of experience and at the time of recollection, Atman recollects the thing which has persisted in Himself in the form of a samskára or latent impression.
Recollection here means consciousness of something as having been experienced before.
On hearing the word 'recollection (smriti)' here used, and without fully understanding the meaning of the definition given above of pratyabhijna, and
thinking that the Vedantin tries to establish the identity, of Atman on the strength of pratyabhijna which is none other than mere recollection, an objector asks as follows.
9. (Question): If by pratyabhijná is meant smriti or recollection of things, then how can mere recollection be an authority as to the persistent existence of Atman?
10–11. It may be objected:—In memory (smriti) the thing (remembered) does not directly appear nor is there an actual experience of the thing; nor can they be both the thing and the experience (related to each other) like two fingers; nor is the thing an object of experience, (the thing and experience thus related together) like the stick and the man holding it;
for, then, the same thing would apply to all cases of memory. Listen now to our answer:
The objection may be explained as follows:—If Pratyabhijnana is mere memory, it cannot prove the identity of Atman as the Vedantin supposes. Now, it is held that Pratyabhijnana bears testimony to former experience of a thing. So, it is mere memory. And as memory, it cannot have the probative force of pratyaksha as to the thing itself remembered, because the thing is not present to the senses; nor as to the actual experience itself, because the actual experience passed away. It cannot, therefore, have the probative force of pratyaksha as to both the thing and experience, regarded as independent of each other as two fingers are; and much less can it prove the thing to have been an object of experience.
If memory be held as a sufficient evidence as to the experience, then the same probative force will have to be attached to the memory of a thing called up by a mere word.
(Answer): The Vedantin does not hold that mere recollection is a pramana, a source of right knowledge. He only means that recollection (smriti) cannot be explained in the absence of a persistent Atman. Now, as to the origin of memory:
12. When a former experience has disappeared, its memory springs from a cause abiding in Atman and called samskára, the latent impression produced on the seat, of that experience
13. (This memory) gives us to understand that Atman is persistent, as being conscious of the object of a former experience after the immediate experience vanished away.
Atman, passing through an experience of the present moment, and remembering a former event in virtue of the, latent impression produced in him by the actual experience of that event, thinks thus "I who formerly ruled a kingdom, now lead, an ascetic life on the banks of the Ganges." He is thus conscious of his personal identity as persisting through two different periods of time. So, too, remembering the events of former births, he recognises his personal identity through many births. Thus, as memory enters
as a factor into the process by which recognition of identity is produced, pratyabhijna has been spoken of as memory.
14. When the object has vanished away as also the experience thereof, the Divine Atman, never vanishing, never unconscious, recollects the object abiding in Himself.
The object has lain dissolved in Himself in the form of a samskara or latent impression.
15. It is the pramatris, the percipients, that become unconscious by the darkness of Mâyâ. Illusion and Wisdom are the two potentialities of the Lord, like unto the sun's shade and light.
Atman is not unconscious even in sushupti. Though Atman does not manifest Himself in, any particular form in sushupti, He continues to shine by Himself, is self-conscious as before. It is the upadhis, buddhi, etc., which lie dormant
during sleep; so that the idea that Atman is unconscious during sleep is a mere illusion. This darkness of Maya, which has been as old as the universe, disappears on the dawn of the sun of wisdom. Both Maya and Vidya reside in the Lord as His saktis, or powers, like the shade and the light of the sun. They are the causes of bondage and liberation. They are said to abide in Atman as His saktis or powers, simply because He is conscious of bondage and liberation caused by them; not that they ever constitute the inherent nature of Atman, unattached and self-luminous as He always is. Neither can He be said to gain wisdom as though He had not possessed it before; for, He is never affected by Maya, any more than the sun is affected by the clouds. And, as in the case of the sun, it is a mere illusion to speak of Atman as distinct from His light.
16. Mâyâ enshrouds, and Vidyâ uncovers and manifests, all things. It is indeed Pratyabhijna, the all-witnessing Consciousness, which underlies all pramânas, all sources of right knowledge.
That is to say, Vidya, though a state of the mind which is in itself insentient, can dispel
[paragraph continues] Maya by the power of the all-witnessing Consciousness underlying it. Or, it may mean that the consciousness—in the form "I have known this"—which accompanies every act of cognition, shows that Vidya can remove the veil which conceals an object. Or, it may even mean that Vidya is Pratyabhijna itself which dispels ignorance and unfolds the true nature of all things, and which is none other than the very Pratyagatman, the all-witnessing Consciousness illumining all things.
17. It (pratyabhijnâ) is the consciousness that I am Isvara, arising on the removal, by wisdom (Vidyâ), of the veil of Mâyâ which causes the (idea of) separation that "the Isvara is one and I am another."
18. Screened by the curtain of Mâyâ, Isvara emitted but little light. The curtain fully removed, like the sun may He shine.
19. Not from the operation of causes nor of the organs of perception (does this recognition (come). To cause recognition is only to remove ignorance.
20. Whatever pramânas (organs of knowledge) there are whereby to guide our conduct in life, they all operate in no wise other than by removing ignorance.
Accordingly, the teaching of the Upanishads constitutes a pramana or source of knowledge as to the true nature of Atman, as doing no more than removing the veil of ignorance which has concealed the true nature of Atman, and thus bringing about the cessation of the bondage caused by that ignorance.
Now the Vartikakara proceeds to show that the bondage of samsara is not real, as arising from an illusion caused by the confounding of Atman and the body with one another.
21–22. By ignorance, the attributes of he insentient, unreal, and finite body are ascribed to the conscious Atman; as also the reality, consciousness and bliss (of Atman) are ascribed to the body; just as the mother-o’-pearl is mistaken for silver which is quite a different thing.
22. If the silver which here presents itself to consciousness be really existent, then how, according to thy theory, can it be reduced to nothing (by knowledge)?
23. Again what is altogether nonexistent can never present itself to consciousness, any more than a man's horn.
That is to say, the silver which here presents itself to consciousness cannot be altogether nonexistent.
If illusion be a case of memory, then the silver would present itself to consciousness as that seen on the hand of a woman or so.
24. If illusion be due to similarity (between the things confounded together), then we should be conscious (of similarity at the time) in the form that "this (mother-o’-pearl) is similar to that silver." When the white conch appears (to the jaundiced eye) as yellow, or when sugar tastes bitter (to the diseased tongue), there is, indeed, no similarity (between the colours or the tastes confounded).
25. If it be held that the mother-o’-pearl presents itself to consciousness, at the time, as silver itself,—as in fact identical with it,—then the illusory consciousness would have no real basis
whatever; and when contradicted by experience, no residual truth would be left (in the consciousness).
If the mother-o’-pearl do not enter into consciousness at all and be perceived wholly as one with the silver, which alone enters into consciousness, the whole state of consciousness is an illusion, because it is quite opposed to fact. This is tantamount to saying that illusion which is a fact of consciousness is based on no reality whatever, and that when investigated it ends in nothing. If one fact of our experience be thus entirely made independent of reality, then what is there to prevent one from coming to the conclusion that the remaining portion of our experience is based on no reality? This view of illusion would thus lead to utter nihilism.
26. If silver, existent (as an idea) in the buddhi, appears to be external, then, when a gunja berry is mistaken for fire, there would be a burning of the body.
Some regard that the silver which manifests here is real as an idea existing in the mind and externalising itself. So, then, when a gunja
berry is mistaken for fire, the fire also must be real existing as an idea and externalising itself like every thing else as the Buddhist Idealist would say. Accordingly, like other fires it must cause the burning of the body in which it lies.
27. Illusion being an unaccountable appearance, it cannot be defined (as sat or asat). If it could be defined, then there would be no illusion.
Thus, the appearance of silver cannot be accounted for in any one of the ways shown above; it cannot be defined as existent or non-existent. If it could be defined as the one or the other, then it would no longer be an illusion, and no knowledge could remove it; a conclusion which is opposed to our experience.
Having thus far illustrated the nature of illusion by an example, the Vartikakara concludes that the whole universe is a mere illusory appearance of the One Self.
28. The one (Atman) appears to be many as one moon appears to be many
in waters; the Fearless appears to cause fear like the rope appearing to be a serpent. The. Cause appears to be the effect, like gold appearing to be a bracelet.
29–30. By illusion this almost nonexistent universe is imagined to exist in Atman—in the one self-existent (Atman), as silver in the mother-o’-pearl; in the all-pervading (Atman), as a city of Yakshas conjured up in the âkâsa; in the Luminous (Atman), as the mirage appears in the rays of the sun; in the Immutable (Atman), as a thief in a pillar (which is mistaken for a thief at night).
30–31. The illusion removed, the self-luminous and existent Reality, never
[paragraph continues] (Himself) subject to illusion or contradiction, is recognised as He is. The body and other upâdhis shaken off, Atman verily is the Mahesvara, the Great Lord.
32. The True Word cites the Smriti, Intuition, Tradition and other pramânas in proof of this recognition of identity.
The Sruti says "Smriti, pratyaksha, aitihya and anumana pure,—by all these the Sun is to be known" (Taittiriya-Aranyaka: 1. 2.) Smriti, such as the Bhagavadgita. Pratyaksha: the intuition of the sages: Aitihya: the traditionary teaching of the Masters. Anumana: inference. All these point to the unity of Brahman and Atman.
33. Thus ends the seventh chapter in brief in the work called Mânasollâsa which expounds the meaning of the Hymn to the Blessed Dakshinamurti.