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Brahma Knowledge, by L. D. Barnett, [1911], at

§ 12. Brahma is Ātmā.—I. Upanishads.—This idealistic conception became more marked when Brahma was identified with the Ātmā, the subject of individual thought. "The universe is an Idea, my Idea"—this doctrine is constantly preached in detailed expositions and in pithy phrases like the famous "I am Brahma" (aham brahmāsmi), "thou art that" (tat tvam asi). Hence all phenomena are known when their substrate Brahma is known as the Self of the knower.

For tat tvam asi see Ch. VI. viii. 7 f.; aham brahmāsmi, B.A. I. iv. 10; cf. tad vai tat, "truly this is that," B.A. V. iv., etad vai tat, Kaṭh. IV. 3-6. The most adequate treatment of this theme is B.A. IV. iii.–iv.: the Self is "the Spirit (Purusha)

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made of understanding amid the Breaths, the inward light within the heart, that travels abroad, remaining the same, through both worlds," wandering in waking and dreaming through this world, and in deep sleep or death through the world of Brahma; in dreams it builds up a fairy world from the materials of waking thought; in dreamless sleep it is merged in the "understanding self," prājna ātmā, viz. Brahma as universal subject of thought, without consciousness of objects distinct from itself (cf. §§ 11, 15,18). Ātmā is pure consciousness, Kau. III f.; as a purely intellectual force pervading all being, it is compared to salt dissolved in water, B.A. II. iv. 12, Ch. VI. xiii. Ātmā known, all is known, Ch. VI. i. f.; the later view of it as impassive spectator of the subjects, objects, and activity of finite thought, Pra. VI. 5, Śvet. VI. 11, Sarvopanishatsāra, etc.

Ch. VIII. i. f. lays special emphasis on the presence of the whole macrocosm, the universal Self, in the heart of man, and hence on the absolute freedom of him who knows the Self within him. The whole world of cognitions exists for us only in so far as it enters into the range of our egoity; our pleasures are only for the satisfaction of our Self, which is the All; this recognition unites our soul with the universe and gives us control of all things from their source, B.A. II. iv., IV. v. The final reality of cognition is infinitude, bhūmā,

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illimitable ideation, on realising which the soul wins absolute freedom, Ch. VII. xxiii. f.

Very important in this connection is the theory of the Five Selves propounded in the Taittirīya Upanishad, ii., an attempt to interpret the phenomena of physical existence in terms of the Ātmā. The author conceives the first four Selves as sheaths surrounding the fifth. The first is anna-maya, "formed of food"; that is, it comprises the physical organs of microcosmic and macrocosmic body. Within this is the second, the prāṇa-maya, "formed of life-breaths"; it is the Self as embodied in the incorporeal functions on which depends the activity of the gross organs in the microcosm and macrocosm. The third is mano-maya, "formed of will," namely of the Vedas and Brāhmaṇas, which are the powers inspiring the life of the world for worldly ends, for they ordain rituals for the carnal benefit of gods and their worshippers in this and other worlds. The fourth is vijnāna-maya, "formed of understanding," namely that phase of consciousness in which the vanity of this Vedic ritual is recognised and superseded by an intellectual worship of Brahma, which however still distinguishes Brahma as object from the Self as worshipper. Within this is the inmost Self, the ānanda-maya, "formed of bliss," the incogitable spirit of infinite peace and joy (cf. Ch. IV. x.-xv., where Brahma is essentially space and joy).

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II. Later Vedānta.—The triad of attributes often mentioned in the later Vedānta, Existence, Thought, and Bliss (sack-chid-ānanda), does not occur as a formula in Śankara's writings; it is however anticipated by his definition of Brahma as "eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, eternally satisfied, eternally pure, intelligent, and free of nature, understanding, and bliss" (on Brahma-sūtra I. i. 4). Brahma is the omnipotent and omniscient cause of the origin, maintenance, and dissolution of the universe, the intelligence forming the Self or true Ego of every being, of which the only possible predicates are absolute Being and Thought (on I. i. 2, 4, II. iii. 7, III. ii. 21, etc.).

In accordance with his principles, Śankara regards the creation by and from Brahma from both an esoteric and an exoteric standpoint. On the one hand, he remarks, the creation of the phenomenal world as described in terms of empiric thought by the Vedas and Upanishads has no absolute reality at all; it is intended to teach parabolically that the Self of all things is Brahma (see commentary on Brahma-sūtra II. i. 33). On the other hand, the world of experience cannot be ignored altogether; it is a fact of consciousness, though only of unenlightened consciousness, and accordingly an explanation of its process must be found. Creation consists in a division of Brahma by himself into a boundless variety of "names and forms," intelligible existences

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which constitute the empiric world and possess determinate principles of being, formal and material potentialities (śakti) that never vary throughout all the world's successive cycles (see § 23). These potential forces, which relatively to one another are of infinite variety but intrinsically are strictly determinate, include not only the germinal principles of all phenomena but also the empiric souls (jīva) as such; and collectively they constitute the "powers" or śaktis, i.e. the eternal demiurgic potencies of Brahma, which in the intervals between the creations of the worlds lie dormant in a deep sleep of illusion as a sum of merely potential energies, waiting for the next creation to arise in cosmopoeic activity (on I. iii. 30, IV. 9, II, i. 30 f., etc.). Thus the Upanishadic theory of a single creation is replaced by a doctrine of beginningless and endless successions of emergence and reabsorption of the phenomenal world (see § 23).

The force that moves the absolute Idea to conceive itself as a plurality of determinate subjects and objects of empiric thought is, according to Śankara, Ignorance, which, though itself strictly negative, is the basis of that positive illusion, the phenomenal world (see § 16). Ignorance creates "determinations," upādhi, modes of thought limiting the self-conception of the absolute Brahma, and Ignorance causes the empiric soul thus produced to confuse Brahma with the determinations

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falsely imposed upon him, so that Brahma is imagined variously as individual soul, a world of experience, and a personal God.

The "determinations" that play the most important part in Śankara's system are those which form the structure of individual consciousness by constituting the idea of an embodied individual soul, jīva. These are the prāṇas, or "breaths," the "works," the "subtle body," the gross body, and sometimes also the sensations and phenomenal perceptions (see § 18). A favourite metaphor by which Sankara illustrates his theory of upādhis is that of a jar. The space enclosed within a certain jar is really the same as the infinite space filling the universe, and the conception of it as limited by the jar nowise limits the infinitude of space itself; and so the conception of the Self as determined by the forms of embodied existence nowise excludes the identity of the embodied Self with the absolute Brahma. The soul itself, says Śankara (on II. iii. 40), is totally incapable of (empiric) action, whether as subject or object; its apparent activity, e.g. in desire, grief, etc., is based merely upon Ignorance, for the activity arises because the soul falsely ascribes to itself the properties of "determinations" (cf. the definitions of the individual soul given on IV. ii. 4 as "the intelligent self, vijnānātmā, having the determinations of ignorance, works, and previous experience").

The Vedantic schools which followed Śankara

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theorised more schematically on the origin of the phenomenal world. They regard Ignorance as a cosmic sum of forces including all finite powers, causes, and effects, which has two characteristic properties, viz. "obscuration" (āvaraṇa), causing the Absolute Idea to conceive itself as distinct individual egos, and "distention" (vikshepa), arousing in the Self the illusive idea of an external world of phenomena. Accepting the Sānkhya's division of matter into the three guṇas or modes of sattva ("goodness" or "truth"), rajas ("passion"), and tamas ("gloom"), they identify matter with Cosmic Ignorance, or the sum of individual Ignorances, which acts as a "determinant" to the Supreme Self or Absolute Thought. The latter as "determined" in Cosmic Ignorance acts as a world-soul, directing the universal order of phenomena with supreme power and knowledge, and hence is called Īśvara, "the Lord." The Cosmic Ignorance is hence called "Īśvara's body," and also "Deep Sleep" (sushupti), for in it the force of Ignorance investing Thought is almost wholly inoperative, and the phenomenal world exists only in potentiality. This sphere of being is called the "sheath of Bliss," ānanda-maya kośa. To it corresponds a stage of existence in the individual soul, in which the Self or Thought (here styled Prājna) is "determined" by individual Ignorance. From Īśvara as "determined" by Cosmic Ignorance arise the subtle

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elements (§ 18) and thence both the "subtle bodies" (§ 19) and gross elements. The "subtle bodies" in the aggregate determine the Self into a mode called Prāṇa, Sūtrātmā, or Hiraṇyagarbha; individually they determine it into the mode called Taijasa. These combinations of matter with the Self form three successive phases of being for the individual soul: (1) the "sheath of understanding," vijnāna-maya kośa, composed of intelligence (buddhi) and the "organs of knowledge" (§ 18), which constitutes the real agent in empiric experience; (2) the "sheath of mind," mano-maya kośa, formed of manas and the organs of action, thus constituting the instrument of empiric experience; and (3) the "sheath of the breaths," prāṇa-maya kośa, formed of vital breaths and organs of action, and constituting the effect of experience. These three phases of being are together called "Dream-Sleep," as in them arise the subtle or elementary forms of phenomena and the reflection of them upon the "determined" Self. The gross elements which arise from the subtle collectively "determine" the Self into the phase called Vaiśvānara or Virāt; individually they "determine" it into Viśva. This lowest determination is called anna-maya kośa, the "sheath of food," or the state of Waking, for into it the forms of both gross and subtle phenomena are displayed to the Self, as in waking both memory and sense-perception are active.

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The scheme is thus as follows:

1. Individual Gross Body, determinant of Viśva, in state of Waking.

Sheath of Food.

Cosmic Gross Body determinant of Virāt, in state of Waking.

2. Individual Subtle Body, determinant of Taijasa, in state of Dreaming.

(1) Sheath of Breaths.
(2) Sheath of Mind.
(3) Sheath of Understanding.

Cosmic Subtle Body, determinant of Prāṇa, in state of Dreaming.

3. Individual Causal Body, determinant of Prājna, in state of Dreamless Sleep.

Sheath of Bliss.

Cosmic Causal Body, determinant of Īśvara, in state of Dreamless Sleep.

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