Atma Bodha – Chapter4

Atma Bodha

Vishnu Bapat

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उपाधि उपाहितम् -the conditionings verse 10-15

A note on Upadhi

The verse 11 says: नाना उपाधिवशात् एव -because of the association with different upadhis. What is upadhi? The dictionary meaning is tittle, conditioning, adjunct, peculiarity, lying close by etc. In Vedanta it has a different meaning. Upadhi is a conditioning on Brahman. Upadhi is a superimposition which gives a limited view of the Absolute, a limiting factor.

Due to Upadhi the all-pervading, Brahman having no form and attributes appears as if he has attributes. He appears to be doing and enjoying.
Swami Paramarthananda says, three points should be noted in Upadhi.
It should be near
It should appear to transfer the attribute
The transfer should be false and no effort is needed to remove upadhi
We shall take two examples

  1. Suppose you are sitting on a carpet. Someone spills ink over it and the stain is transferred to your pants. Is it real or apparent? It is real. So, removal requires effort of washing. This is not upadhi.
  2. Take the example of a red flower and a clear crystal. The colour of the flower is transferred to crystal. Here the transfer is not real, it is apparent. No effort is required to remove the colour; you just have to take the crystal away. This is called upadhi in Vedanta.
    The jiva and Ishwara associate with multiple conditionings (नाना उपाधिवशात्). Social ideas like (जातिवर्णाश्रमादयः), external impurities (रसवर्णादि भेदः) and equipment like gadgets and machines. The example for the last one is given by Swami Chinmayananda. The same electricity passed through different upadhis such as a bulb, heater, cooler, fan and a blower give different results.

Verse 10

Due to multiple upadhis or conditioning Brahman appears as many

यथाकाशो हृषीकेशो नानोपाधिगतो विभुः ।
तद्भेदाद्भिन्नवद्भाति तन्नाशे केवलो भवेत् ॥ १०॥

यथा आकाशः हृषीकेशः नाना उपाधिगतः विभुः तत् भेदात् भिन्नवत् भाति तत् नाशे केवलः भवेत्
यथा-just as आकाशः-space (तथा- similarly) हृषीकेशः-omnipresent truth नाना- उपाधिगतः- associated with various conditioning विभुः- the all-pervading तत् भेदात् भिन्नवत्-an account of their (upadhis) of manifold nature, distinct from each other भाति- appears to be diverse तत्- नाशे-on their destruction of these upadhis केवलः- one भवेत्- becomes

As all- pervading space appears to be diverse an account of its association with various upadhis, and become one on destruction of these upadhis, so also the omnipresent Lord appears to be diverse on account of his association with various upadhis and become one on destruction of these upadhis.

यथा आकाशः तथा हृषीकेशः- As with Space, so with the omnipresent Lord. Space is limitless, has no boundaries; so is the self. But men build walls and fences as if to partition the space. When we view the sky over skyscrapers, cascading mountains, peaks, the space seem to be divided. Also, the space in a tumbler, cup, and bucket, in compartments of the train and office cubicles seem to be different because of the upadhis or partitions.

ह्रशीकेश hraśīkēśa is a compound of two words, हृशीक
the senses and ईश the lord or controller. It refers to the Lord who controls the senses. There is another meaning to हृषीकेशः- ह हरति (hr̥ harati iti), one who loots.
Why would the Lord loot anything when everything belongs to him? There is an imposter for Lord. His name is ego or jiva. He is so much enslaved by the attractions of the world. He commands the senses to loot objects through the five sense organs for his own gratification of ever-increasing desire. Identification with the upadhi is what stirs up desire after desire and leads to more and more of looting of the sense objects. When these upadhis are destroyed, then only the diversity would end and the unity behind is seen. –Swami Guru Bhaktananda
नाना उपाधिगतः विभुः- the mighty All-pervading self, associated with various Upadhi or conditionings appears to be different. An account of the upadhis and maya the all-pervading supreme Brahman appears as Jiva at vyashti level (Microcosm) and Ishwara at samashti level (Macrocosm). In the case of Jiva there is excess of tamas and rajas over sattva. In case of Ishwara, maya contains predominantly sattva with tidbits of rajas and tamas.
तत् भेदात् भिन्नवत् भाति- due to their distinctness, the self appears to be diverse.
The association between atma and its upadhi is not real but only illusionary. There cannot be any real contact between the two because they are contradictory (भिन्नत्वात्). After the illusion is removed the soul finds its real nature as Atman. The aim of Vedanta is to prove the illusionary nature of distinction between living beings and Brahman and between different living beings. (स्वेताश्वतार svētāśvatāra Upanishad 6:11). –Swami Nikhilananda
तत् नाशे केवलः भवेत्- but separated from them, It becomes One.
Verse 11
Brahman appears as many due to upadhis, just as water appears as different like colour, taste, and flavour.

नानोपाधिवशादेव जातिवर्णाश्रमादयः ।
आत्मन्यारोपितास्तोये रसवर्णादि भेदवत् ॥ ११॥
नाना उपाधिवशात् एव जातिवर्णाश्रमादयः आत्मनि आरोपिताः तोये रसवर्णादि भेदवत्

नाना उपाधिवशात्-because of the association with different conditionings एव-indeed जातिवर्णाश्रमादयः- (जाति वर्ण आश्रम आदयः) such as caste, colour, position etc. आत्मनि-upon the atman आरोपिताः-are superimposed तोये- (just as) in water रसवर्णादि- differences such as taste, flavor, colour etc. भेदवत्- differences (are found).

Owing to the association with various upadhis, such ideas as caste, colour, position etc. are imposed on Atman just as flavor, colour, taste and so forth are imposed on water.
In the previous verse the author explained that the self like the space who is ever free from association seems to be limited because of upadhis or adjuncts imposed on him. The same idea is continued here with an additional analogy of जातिवर्णाश्रमादयः (जाति वर्ण आश्रम आदयः)
नाना उपाधिवशात् एव – Because of its association with different Upadhis. Owing to ignorance one associates the upadhis such as body, mind etc. on the atman
जाति वर्ण आश्रम आदयः आत्मनि आरोपिताः –also the social idea of caste, colour, position, etc., is superimposed on Atman. आश्रम refers to four stages of life i.e. ब्रह्मचर्य, गृहस्थ, वानप्रस्थ, and सन्यास
तोये रसवर्णादि भेदवत्- as in water differences in taste, flavor, colour etc., तॊय means water. Basic water is tasteless and colorless. The upadhis superimposed on water such as the salinity, sweetness, colors such as red, yellow, muddy etc. are the upadhis of foreign bodies.
Swami Chinmayananda says:
Atman is same everywhere, there is no difference like child -atman, old -atman, man- atman or woman- atman. There is no disparity of Christian, Hindu or Muslim Atman. These are all upadhis or conditionings. The one reality equally shines in all beings. It is due to illusion that we make the differences. The same electric current causes different devices to produce heat or reduce heat, to turn the bulb green, red or yellow colors in a traffic signal. The equipment is the upadhi and the one Atman shines in all of them.
Similarly, the differences we find in men are due to the upadhis caused by vasanas and when we are able to identify out of the upadhis we find the same glorious self in all.
Verse 12
The upadhi of gross body is the medium of experience
पंचीकृतमहाभूतसंभवं कर्मसंचितम् ।
शरीरं सुखदुःखानां भोगायतनमुच्यते ॥ १२॥

पंचीकृत महाभूतसंभवम् कर्मसंचितम् शरीम् सुखदुःखानाम् भोगायतनम् उच्यते
पंचीकृत-the grossification of five elements महाभूतसंभवम्-is caused by five basic elements कर्मसंचितम्-determined by one’s own past actions शरीरम्- the physical body सुखदुःखानाम् – for pleasure and pain भोग- experience, enjoy. आयतनम् – seat, house, resting place. It means the medium of experiencing उच्यते- is said to be

The gross body, the medium of experience of pleasure and pain, is product of past karmas and produced from the five great subtle elements. These five subtle elements become gross by a unique process of पंचीकरण or grossification.

पंचीकृतम् महाभूतसंभवम् कर्मसंचितम् शरीरम्- The gross body (शरीरम् physical body) is पङ्चमहाभूत संभवम् is a product of five great elements. There are five basic elements by name आकाश, वायुः, अग्निः, आपः and प्रथिवी meaning space, air, fire, water and earth. These are first formed as unalloyed individual elements. By the process of grossification or combination, they become gross elements. Out of these, five grossified elements is produced the physical gross body which the author calls as महाभूतसंभवम्.
कर्मसंचितम् it is determined by the prarabdha karma of past life or karma phala. An account of good karma mass कर्मसंचितम्, we are born in human form. The body is the first upadhi of the jiva.
सुखदुःखानाम् भोग आयतनम् उच्यते- The gross body is the seat or abode (आयतनम् ) of experiences of pain and pleasure. The medium of real experiencer of happiness and grief etc. is discussed in the next verse. Tattvabodha says:
स्थूलशरीरं किम्? What is gross body?
पंचीक्रतपंचमहाभूतैः क्रतं सत्कर्मजन्यं सुखादुःखादिभॊगायतनं शरीरम्
अस्ति जायते वर्धते विपरिणमते अपक्षीयते विनश्यतीति
षड्विकारवदेतत् स्थूलशरीरम् ।।
The gross body is that which is made up of five great elements that have undergone the process of panchikarana; an instrument for the experiences of happiness or misery etc, born out of past of good actions; and subject to the six modifications namely–to exist, to take birth, to grow, to mature, to decay and to die.

Verse 13
The upadhi of subtle body is the instrument of experience
पंचप्राणमनोबुद्धिदशेन्द्रियसमन्वितम् ।
अपंचीकृतभूतोत्थं सूक्ष्माङ्गं भोगसाधनम् ॥ १३॥
पंचप्राणाः मनः बुद्धिः दशेन्द्रिय समन्वितम् अपंचीकृतभूतोत्थम् सूक्ष्माङ्गम् भोगसाधनम्
पंचप्राणाः मनः बुद्धिः -five pranas, mind and intellect दशेन्द्रिय समन्वितम्-combined with ten organs अपंचीकृतभूतोत्थम्-formed from rudimentary elements (तन्मात्र) सूक्ष्माङ्गम्-the subtle body (सूक्ष्म शरीर) भोगसाधनम्- is the instrument of experience.
The subtle body, consists of five pranas, ten organs, the manas and buddhi. These are formed from the rudimentary elements before the process of grossification. It is an instrument of soul’s experience.

पंचप्राणाः मनः बुद्धिः दशेन्द्रिय समन्वितम् – पंचप्राणाः the five pranas. These are प्राण, अपान, व्यान, उदान, and समान 5 numbers, मनः बुद्धिः 2 numbers and दशेन्द्रिय ten organs making a total of 17 (सप्तदशाकलाभिः). The total seventeen elements are called sukshma sharira or subtle body. Tattva Bodha describes subtle body as below:

अपंचीक्रतपंचमहाभूतैः क्रतं, सत्कर्मजन्यं, सुखादुःखादिभॊग साधनं, पंचज्ञानॆन्द्रियाणि पंचकर्मेन्द्रियाणि पंच प्राणादयः मनश्चैकं बुद्धिश्चैका एवं सप्तदशाकलाभिः सह यत्तिष्ठति तत्सूक्ष्मशरीरम् ।।
What is subtle body? That which is composed of the five great elements which have not undergone grossification; five sense organs, five organs of action, five vital pranas, one mind and one intellect, thus totaling into seventeen numbers. The subtle body is born an account of its predominantly good actions in previous births as a platform for enjoyment of good and bad experiences in the present life.
अपंचीकृतभूतोत्थम् सूक्ष्माङ्गम् भोगसाधनम्- These are formed from the rudimentary elements before undergoing the process of grossification. भोगसाधनम् means instrument of experience. The gross body was called भोगायतनम् or the seat or medium of experience. The gross body is not the bhokta. The subtle body is bhokta.
Jiva acquires the physical body which is suitable for the enjoyment of all the pleasures and pains that are the effects of various past karmas. Through the sense organs, one experiences the outer world of duality and thus the aversions and attachments arising from it. This subtle body hence is called as equipment through which all the pleasures and pains are experienced.
Swami Paramarthananda says: The subtle body has the attributes of अंधत्व blindness, मंदत्व tardy, and पटुत्व alertness. When a person says, “अहम् अंधः” (I am blind), blindness is not the attribute of physical body but of jnyanendriya (organ of perception). When a person says, “अहम् पंगुः” (lame) this is the attribute of karmendriya (organ of action). Similarly, when he says अहम् अशनायावान् (I am hungry) अहम् पिपासावान् (I am thirsty) they are the attributes of prana (life force). I am sensitive type, emotional type, I am upset etc. are the attributes of the mind. When one says I am intelligent, or I do not understand Atma Bodha they are the traits of the buddhi or intellect but not the physical body; that is what is meant by the phrase भोगसाधनम्- instrument of experience.
Verse 14
Beginingless, ignorance and indescribable are the upadhis of causal body
अनाद्यविद्यानिर्वाच्या कारणोपाधिरुच्यते ।
उपाधित्रितयादन्यमात्मानमवधारयेत् ॥ १४॥
अनादि अविद्या अनिर्वाच्य कारणोपाधिरुच्यते उपाधित्रितयादन्यम् आत्मानम् अवधारयेत्
अनाद्यविद्यानिर्वाच्या (अनादि- अविद्या- अनिर्वाच्य) – अनादि -beginning-less अविद्या- ignorance अनिर्वाच्य-indescribable कारणोपाधिरुच्यते- (कारण उपाधिः उच्यते) is the upadhi of the causal body उपाधित्रितयादन्यम्-other than the three conditioning bodies आत्मानम्-the Atman अवधारयेत्- should be understood.

Beginning-less, avidya or nascence and indescribable are the characteristics of causal body. This is an upadhi superimposed on the Atman. Know for certain that Atman is other than the three upadhis.
In the previous verse the upadhi of gross and subtle bodies are discussed. In this verse the upadhi of causal body is discussed.
अनादि- beginning-less. The gross and subtle bodies have a beginning and end because they are a product of creation. But the causal body (कारण शरीर) has no beginning or end so it is called अनादि. It is the cause of creation. शरीरद्वयस्य कारणमात्रम्. Its other name is Maya. It is also an upadhi. With Karana sharira, atma becomes bhokta. Gross body is the medium of experience of grief and happiness (भोगायतनम्), the subtle body is the actual seat of experience (भोग साधनम्). The Causal body makes the jiva an experiencer or bhokta.
अविद्या-ignorance. It is called maya at the level of macrocosm and avidya at the level of body or microcosm. It has got projecting power or आवरण शक्ति, veiling power and विक्षेप शक्ति (deluding power). An account of this power it projects the gross body and subtle body as upadhi of jiva. Its विक्षेप शक्ति (deluding power) makes the jiva forgets its real nature.
अनिर्वाच्य- indescribable. The causal body cannot be described either as being or non-being. The mind through which one understands is also a product of avidya or maya.
उपाधित्रितयादन्यम् (उपाधि त्रितयात् अन्यम्) आत्मानम् अवधारयेत्- Know that Atman is different from the three upadhis gross body, subtle body and causal body. This is a compound word split into उपाधिः त्रितयात् अन्यम्. Atman is the witness of these bodies and never identified with them. The Atman drops all the association with the upadhis. Which are the upadhis? These are:
जातिवर्णाश्रमादयः, स्थूल सूक्ष्म कारण शरीर (gross, subtle and causal bodies). The properties of gross body are obesity, lean body, male, female etc. The properties of subtle body are राग, द्वेश, मोह, मद, मत्सर, प्रेम, करुणा etc. The property of Casual body is ajnyana or ignorance. Atman gives up all these. He considers all the upadhis as sharira dharma, and do not belong to him.
Verse 15
The pure atma appears as if he has barrowed the upadhis of 5 koshas
पंचकोशादियोगेन तत्तन्मय इव स्थितः ।
शुद्धात्मा नीलवस्त्रादियोगेन स्फटिको यथा ॥ १५॥
पंचकोशादियोगेन तत्त् तन्मय इव स्थितः शुद्ध आत्मा नीलवस्त्रादियोगेन स्फटिकः यथा
पंचकोशादियोगेन-by closeness with five sheaths तत्त्-that jiva तन्मय- identified with them इव-indeed स्थितः-stays put शुद्ध- आत्मा-pure self नीलवस्त्रादियोगेन-by association with blue garment स्फटिकः-crystal यथा-like

Just as a pure colourless crystal looks like a blue crystal in the background of a blue cloth, so also, because of the identification with the five koshas, the pure Atma appears to have borrowed their qualities upon itself.

In the previous shlokas the upadhis of gross subtle and causual body was discussed. The upadhis of ashrama -Brahmacharya, gruhastha and vanaprastha was also discussed. It was pointed out that the Atma has nothing to do with these upadhis and he is separate and independent of them. In this verse he discusses the upadhis of five koshas.

पंचकोशादियोगेन तत्त् तन्मय इव स्थितः-Due to its closeness with the five sheaths the jiva appears to have barrowed their qualities. पंचकोशादियोगेन means by the identification or proximity with five sheaths. The gross body has five sheaths or कोश. These are अन्नमय- anatomical प्राणमय-physiological मनोमय-psychological विज्ञानमय-intellectual and आनन्दमय-blissful sheath. Atman or the soul is beyond all of them. He is not a part of the koshas or the body.

Swami Nikhilananda says:
The first sheath or annamaya kosha is the tangible gross body. Next three namely प्राणमय, मनोमय, and विज्ञानमय are subtle body and the last one आनन्दमय is the causal body. They are called sheaths because like a scabbard (kosha) which encloses the sword, the five sheaths enclose the soul. As one studies the nature of the sheaths from the grossly physical to blissful, one finds them to be gradually becoming finer and finer and thus reflecting more and more true nature of the soul. Realization of the soul in its true nature is attained by the elimination of all the sheaths by the practice of discrimination and detachment (विवेक, वैराग्य). When all the sheaths are eliminated what remains is Atman, the self-effulgent witness, the changeless reality, absolute knowledge, and everlasting Bliss.
पंचकोशादियोगेन The jiva, by its proximity with these five sheaths appears to be endowed with the quality of the sheaths. योग means to join or union. There cannot be a union between the self, which is consciousness and the sheaths which are material in nature. This is a false identification with the gross body. That is why it is said that the atma stays तन्मय इव as if identified with, or enticed by the five koshas, experiencing the bodily happiness and grief
तन्मय इव स्थितः Stays as if keenly absorbed. When watching a movie, if there is a fight between a good man and a bad man, we stay identified with the good man. We become a part of his emotions. This is called तन्मय इव स्थितः
शुद्ध आत्मा नीलवस्त्रादियोगेन स्फटिकः यथा –just as the clear crystal appears to have acquired the colour of its background, the pure atman also appears to have borrowed the qualities of upadhi of five koshas. The super imposed upadhi of the self is mithya. The author has used the word शुद्ध आत्मा pure Agtma. What is purity? It refers to his non-alingment or non-attachment with the upadhi. Atma is always pure and cannot be soiled.