Prabodha sudhakara chapter 7 has nine verses which establish the existence of the Self or Brahman.

Even if detachment (dispassion) is to be practiced, one needs spiritual awakening (prabodhaka – प्रबोधक). Just because one is practicing dispassion, spiritual awakening will not be there by default. Lamp is there, oil is there and wick is also there; but the lamp does not give light unless it is lighted. Such spiritual awakening can be taught only by a spiritually awakened or Self-realized Guru. In order to realise the Self, one has to have a spiritual Guru, says Prabodha sudhākara. A comparison is drawn to cātaka bird (cucculus melanoleucus), which drinks water straight from rain drops and does not take water from any water bodies. Though the rain water originates from water bodies, cātaka bird never take water from other sources where rain water is collected such as ponds and lakes. When there is no rain, these birds look at the sky and wait for raining to drink water. This can be explained like this. Knowledge about the Self is available in all the Scriptures such as Upaniṣad-s. Upaniṣad-s do not dwell on dualism and they go on negating everything as not Brahman (neti neti or not this, not this). {Neti neti is predominantly explained in Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (III.ix.26). It is said that the Self is imperceptible because it is never perceived; It is un-decaying because It never decays; It is unattached because It is never attached...... Spiritual world is in the midst of the material world and does not exist separately. By living in the material world and by doing right actions for his existence (karma yoga advocated by Krishna), one has to seek the Brahman within (spiritual world). It is like a lotus leaf in a pond. One has to exist, without depending on anything (dispassion).}

The verse says that only a realized Guru can teach the path of Self realization. Scriptures elaborately describe the path of Self-realization. There are many Scriptures that discuss about Self-realization. Though all of them lead to the same path (path of realizing the Self, known as spiritual path), each of them teach in different methods. This will lead to confusion. For example, Īśa Upaniṣad (9) says, “Those who perform sacrifices go into darkness (avidyā) that is like being blind. But those who merely worship gods and goddesses go into deeper darkness (vidyā).” The intended meaning is highly subtle in nature. Intended meaning is that who worship for desires are born again to get their desires fulfilled. Desires here can be explained here as saṁkalpa (prayers with desires). Here vidyā means worshipping a particular form of deity and not Brahman without attributes (Nirguṇa Brahman), who alone can offer liberation. When a person worships such deities, he becomes that deity; but he is not liberated and he continues to transmigrate. The intended meaning is that both these types of worshipers are not liberated.

This is explained further. One attains spiritual knowledge, the knowledge to attain liberation from three sources; from Scriptures like Upaniṣad-s, from his Teacher (Guru) and through his own experience. Example of jaggery (unrefined sugar) is taken for the purpose of understanding. Scriptures will say that jaggery is not this and not that, etc. Texts may say that jaggery tastes like sugar, but in an unrefined form; they are only explanations, which can make one understand what jaggery is. For example, tea is not jaggery, sugar is not jaggery and ultimately they will say jaggery will be like this and not like that. So everything goes by assumptions. In a nutshell they give inputs to visualize and contemplate. They do not speak about how to do experience the taste of jaggery. This is not considered as indirect knowledge as everything is negated to declare Brahman. Second one is spiritual teacher (who is called Guru) who explains how the jaggery is to be tasted and the experience of tasting it. In other words, the spiritual teacher will guide step by step how to taste the jaggery. Now we have requisite knowledge about jaggery and ways and means to taste it. What remains to be done is to experience its taste. Tasting is called sādhana or practice. Unless the jaggery is tasted in the way explained by Guru, what is explained through the Scriptures cannot be understood. Unless the jaggery is tasted, one cannot experience what jaggery is. It is the spiritual teacher, who alone can make the seeker to experience the taste (rasa) of jaggery. Going with the spiritual teacher and following his teachings is easier because, he has already tasted it. Spiritual teacher here means the one who has realized the Self, through sādhana (meditation).

Next verses talk about what is sought for and where the experience takes place? Experience is not related to the body, comprising of organs of action and perception; nor, it is related to prāṇa. An example of a dead person is cited. If a dead person is burnt, the body (he or she changes to it; body less soul and prāṇa is known only as it). Spiritual experience is not related to organs perception, organs of action or various types of prāṇa. If not, then is it related to the mind? Again mind does not function on its own. Mind is dependent on sense organs and mind cannot function independently. Mind needs inputs from these organs. But, when the mind can function? It is possible only when the Self is present within to make comprehension possible. What is Self? It is the purest form of Consciousness. Therefore, unless the Self is present, experience of any type cannot be there. It is the Consciousness that experiences through the mind. Had the Self not been there, no consciousness will be there and obviously there will be no experience.

Another example is cited in the last two verses. Light an earthen lamp. Take a pot; make five holes and place it over the lamp with mouth of the pot around the lamp. Now two points are raised; one about the lamp and another about the five objects that are to be placed on the holes. The five objects are gooseberry, a lute (original verse says vīṇā; also known as Indian lute), musk, a gem stone and a hand fan. 

What is the illation here? The house where the lamp is burning is the material world, full of ignorance, known as māyā. Pot is the human body. The five holes in the pot are five sensory organs. Experience of the sensory organs is the five objects placed on the holes. They are śabda, sparśa, rūpa, rasa, gandha (five tanmātra-s or rudimentary subtle elements). Gooseberry is the taste (rasa); lute is the sound (śabda); musk is the smell (gandha); gem by form (rūpa) and touch (sparśa) by the fan. The earthen lamp that holds the oil and wick is the biological system of the human body. Wick is the mind and the oil that makes the wick to burn is the prāṇa. With all these things, perception of the material world is not possible.  Without that light, nothing can be perceived. Similarly, without the Self, nothing can be experienced.

Spiritual world is not something that exists outside the material world. It is a part of our material existence. Without the body, how can the Self be realized? Just body is not enough. We need antaḥkaraṇa (mind, intellect and ego). Unless everything associated with the material world is transcended, experience of the Self cannot be realized. Self is Brahman, says Mahānirvāṇa Tantra (III.12). It says, “First recite praṇava (ॐ), then saccit (sat + cit), then ekaṁ (one and only, which is beyond normal comprehension) and then the word Brahma (Brahman). This gives rise to mantrodhāra (supporting all mantras or the base of all mantras; in other words, all other mantras originate from mantrodhāra) and this mantra is ॐ सच्चित् एकं ब्रह्म om saccit ekaṁ brahma, which means eternity and consciousness is Brahman. This mantra gave rise another mantra saccidānandha, which means existence, Consciousness and Bliss. This is how Brahman can be experienced.

More related articles:

Prabodha Sudhakara - Part 5

Prabodha Sudhākara - Part 7