Consciousness and antaḥkaraṇa are interdependent like Brahman and māyā, like Śiva and Śakti. The reflection of Consciousness in antaḥkaraṇa is known as cidābhāsa. Cidābhāsa can be explained as jīva, where pure consciousness is reflected in the mind of jīva. When one realizes that his or her consciousness is shining, the external world disappears for him, as he himself becomes the object of illumination. He thus becomes pramātā (knower). Sometimes, ego is illuminated by consciousness, which triggers ahaṁkāra or the “I” factor and this is the cause for one’s fall and consequent accrual of karmas resulting in transmigration. On the other hand, if the illumination of consciousness falls on buddhi or knowledge, spiritual quest is kindled and he pursues true spiritual path which mainly comprises of meditation and consequent liberation.

Knowledge is of two types, one is used for worldly life and another is used for spiritual path. These two types of knowledge are known as pāramārthika and vyāvahārika. Pāramārthika deals with the knowledge of Brahman. This is called spiritual path which ultimately leads to liberation. This knowledge is based on mahāvākya-s such as “tat tvam asi” or “ahaṁ brahmāsmi”. The aspirant reads Upaniṣad-s and pleads with his Guru to unravel the mysteries of these mahāvākya-s and strives hard to experience effects of mahāvākya-s. The second type of knowledge, vyāvahārika is related to our mundane existence in the material world. This world is also Brahman, but superimposed by māyā.

Now the question is how to know the mysteries of mahāvākya-s. Knowledge is the primary factory in understanding mahāvākya-s. Brahman, as explained in Upaniṣad-s through repeated negations, elucidate Brahman. When everything is negated, what remains is Brahman. For example, Taittirīya Upaniṣad instead of negation, explains Brahman as “satyaṁ jñānaṁ anantaṁ brahma” (Truth, knowledge and eternity is Brahman). Inquiring or exploring mahāvākya-s lead us further into spiritual path, which is guided by a qualified Teacher, who has realized Brahman.

Māyā is superimposition on Brahman. Therefore, in the beginning, only Brahman alone was present without any superimposition. This Brahman, without any superimposition is known as Nirguṇa Brahman. Nirguṇa means without attributes or guṇa-s (sattva, rajas and tamas). At the time of merging into Brahman, an individual soul merges only with this Brahman and only then, it transcends transmigration. This means that a jīva strived hard by acquiring requisite knowledge with the help of a Teacher, followed by making Self-inquiry. Māyā superimposed itself and veiled Nirguṇa Brahman at the time of manifestation of the universe.  Further process of creation happens only in māyā, for which Brahman remains only as a witness. When Nirguṇa Brahman is veiled by māyā, this Brahman is called Saguṇa Brahman, where saguṇa means with attributes or guṇa-s. A life of an individual unfolds in māyā guided by his or her past life karmic imprints.

Since Brahman remains only as a witness for all the actions happening, it is known as the Seer. As It does not involve Itself with any of the actions, which happens purely out of one’s karmic imprints, Brahman is not affected under any circumstance, and hence It is always in the nature of Bliss or ānanda. Bliss means, state of inexplicable happiness. Unless we partake in an action, we do not accrue karmas. Partaking in actions means indulging in an action through one’s mind, which causes an impression in our karmic account. We can do any action, without getting addicted to the action and this does not accrue karmic impressions. When we partake in an action, mind, buddhi and ego simultaneously act causing vāsana-s, which in turn become karma. Hence, Kṛṣṇa said that we can do all prescribed acts, but should not look for the end result of such actions.

Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad says, “Brahman is one without a second. Wise people see Brahman in themselves and such people are always happy and not others. He can be realized only through knowledge. He can be realized through yoga only.” Here yoga means samādhi. Samādhi can be broadly classified into two – savikalpa samādhi and nirvikalpa samādhi. In savikalpa samādhi mental affirmation that “I am Brahman” will be repeated. Beyond this affirmation, his mind will be absolutely in tranquillity, without any disturbance. Nirvikalpa samādhi is the state, where individual consciousness stands united with Supreme Consciousness. In other words, kūṭastha unites with Brahman, transcending all upādhi and viśeṣaṇa. The one who practices yoga (meditation) properly and regularly under the able guidance of a Teacher, experiences Saccidānanda.

(to be continued)