Sunday, December 2, 2007

Avidya and Vidya

Insights about the nature of vidya and avidya now flow to Nachiketas standing at the borderline between life and death.

Avidyamantare vartamanah
Svayam dheerah panditammanyamanah
Dandramyamanah pariyanti moodha
Andhenaiva neeyamana yatha/ndhah

The concern with non-essential details is avidya. It has a blinding effect. It masks the total picture. Those immersed in the domain of avidya moves around like a blind person being led by another blind person. Because of the profusion of details mastered by them they think of themselves as intelligent and knowledgeable. They foolishly keep circulating here and there in this world without reaching anywhere.

Na samparahah pratibhati balam
Pramdyantam vittamohena moodham
Ayam loko nasti para itimanee
Punahpunarvashampadyate me

Enlightenment is beyond the reach of the immature persons immersed in the non-essential transactions of this world. They act foolishly because they are driven by the desire for worldly possessions, which keeps them attached to this world. They are unable to conceive a world that transcends the one presently being experienced by them. Because of the importance they give to transient objects they get trapped in the clasps of death again and again.

Shravanayabhibahurbhiyo na labhyah
Shrunuvanto/pi bahavo yam na vidyuh
Ashcharyo vakta kushalo/syalabdha
Ashcharyo jnata kushalanushishtah

Vidya is the knowledge that connects this world and the world that transcends this world. It is very difficult to communicate this knowledge. It is not easily available from any source even though its manifestations are everywhere. Even when one encounters these manifestations it is not easily recognized. A qualified master who can effectively communicate this knowledge is a rare wonder. Equally rare and wonderful is a qualified student who can assimilate the knowledge that is communicated by such a qualified master.

Na narena varena prokta esha
Suvijneyo bahudha chintyamanah
Ananya prokte gatiratra nasti
Aneeyan hi atarkyamanupramanat

It is not easily imbibed and expressed by men, by the icons at their command. All icons of men exist in the plane of the intellect. The highest plane at which men communicate with each other is the plane of the intellect. The icons constitute a language through which they can communicate by comparing all inputs with the categorical knowledge which they have stored within themselves. Vidya can not be properly understood by the application of intellect. Its ways can not told by one man to another. It is so subtle that it is beyond all arguments of intellect.

Naisha tarkena matirapaneya
Proka/nyenaiva sujnaya preshtha
Yam tvamapah satya dhrutirbatasi
Tvadrungna bhooyannachiketah prashtah

The receptivity for the subtle vidya can not be cultivated by arguments in the intellectual plane. It can be had only by direct experience by noble souls who has no need to depend on the instructions from others. Nachiketas! You are indeed steadfast in your pursuit of truth. Let there be more and more true seekers like you.

Janamyaham shevadhirityanityam
Nahyadhruvaih prapyate hi dhruvam tat
Tato maya nachiketashchito/gnir
Anityairdravyaih praptavanasmi nityam

Nachiketas says to himself: ‘I realize that all the accompaniments I have here are impermanent. Being impermanent they can not help me to attain the permanent object that is being sought by me. Therefore I am offering all these impermanent things to satisfy the fires of true passion burning within me in the domains of body, mind and intellect. I have to attain the permanent object being sought by me through this sacrifice.”

The objects of this world have no intrinsic value. Any attempt to hold on to them will only pull one down in the process of spiritual evolution. They however attain value when they are used up appropriately to satisfy real needs in the domains of body, mind and intellect. By sacrificing the products of avidya in a proper manner one qualifies himself for the pursuit of vidya.

Kamasyaptim jagatah pratishtham
Kratorantamabhayasya param
Stomam mahadurgayam pratishtham
Drushtva dhrutya dheero nachiketao/tyasrakshi

By boldly encountering death Nachiketas gained access to all that is considered as desirable in this world. Internalizing the phenomenon of change provided him the dynamism to fully involve in the happenings here. The establishment that keeps the universe stable came under his command. Seated in this stability he could reach for the shores yonder where one is free of all fears. He could capture in his mind the grand scheme that is expressed through this universe, and which is the subject of praise for all. But none of these attainments could detract Nachiketas from his pursuit of the ultimate truth. By making use of his power to discriminate he refused to see any of these as his final objective.

Tam durdarsham goodhamanupravishtham
Guhahitam gahvareshtham puranam
Adhyatmayogadhigamena devam
Yatva dheero harshashokou jahati

The final object of his pursuit is vidya, the subtle all pervading principle that can be conceived only within the deepest recess of oneself. This principle moves through the subtle tunnels within oneself. It is the primordial principle that precedes everything else. This ideal is to be attained by the refinement of oneself to remove all factors that alienates one from this eternal principle. It is to be attained by the practice of adhyatmayoga. Alienation from this principle is the cause of all the traumas inherent in a world full of pleasures and sorrows. By the proper application of intellect one eliminates the alienation from the principle, to attain equanimity, and hence transcends the traumas associated with the duality of pleasures and sorrows.

Etatchrutva samparigruhya martyah
Sa modate modaneeyam hi labdhva
Vivrutam sadma nachiketasam manve

It is very difficult to open up oneself to truth. Pressing practical considerations keeps prompting one to prefer distortions of truth in place of truth. But the pursuit of truth alone can save one from the traumas of this world. Nachiketas has laid himself open for the pursuit of truth without any reservations. He listens intently to the subtle principle that governs changes and chooses to conform to the path of dharma, identifying himself with the subtle principle. He has attained that which brings him pure joy.

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