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Sapta Bhumika Prakriya ( 7 levels of spiritual progress Jivan Mukta and beyond)
This is considered to be part of Vedanta, a methodology of teaching first described in Yogavasishta. It has been extracted by vidyarnya swami in “jeevan Viveka” works and by madhusudana saraswati “ in his gita bjashyam in the sixth chapter.
Seven levels have sanskrit words: 1) shubheicha 2) vichaarana 3) Tanu manasa and 4) Satva pattihi 5) Asam Saktihi 6) Padartha bhavani 7) Turyaga/Turiya
The first four levels are well-known levels that we have already learned in several vedanta works it's only the words are new but the ideas are known the first level 1) of Subheicha means acquisition of fourfold qualifications through karma yoga and upasana yoga, gaining the qualifications yoga then the second level 2) of vicharana mananam 3) nidhiddhyasanam are meditating upon my own real self as I have understood from this so therefore nidhiddhyasanam is not for knowledge not for removing the doubt but to remove our habitual thinking patterns about ourselves and the world called viparita bhavana or viparya.
We have seen in the classes that habits will not go easily by invoking my brahma-swarupam I get out of the jeevabhava ways of thinking and by going to sravanam and mananam and nidhiddhyasanam I have removed ignorance, doubt and habitual tendencies, also that means I have got the firm self knowledge. This is the 4) Satva pattihi. jeevan mukthi, he is jnani, brahma. He continues to live in the body for some time due to Prarabda. When the body falls, he is a Videha mukhta. these first four stages are known
The uniqueness of the sapta prakria it introduces an optional project for a jnani. ( jnani is beyond do's and don’t’s, there is no viddhi, only because of the inclination due prarabdha karma and vasana). The next three level known as 5) asam saktihi, 6) Padartha bhavani 7) Turyaga/Turiya
The sapta prakria introduces the same atma dhyanam, once again. for the jnani in the fourth level but for a different purpose. And what is the purpose? by practicing advanced meditation. Meditator can experience great spiritual joy or happiness because meditation involves invoking my own ananda swarupa and absorption, and when i am invoking my ananda swarupa my real nature of ananda, the very invocation of my nature gives me a great joyous experience at the time of meditation which is called special spiritual happiness, which is different from all sense pleasures. These levels require the jnani to be a sannyasi and an expert in ashtanga yoga and meditate on atma and not avoid anatma thoughts (on 3 levels: Prameya - possesions, family etc, Pramana- body & senses, Prameya - ahankara)
These are the deeper and higher level and of course greater experiential joy and the one who reaches the fifth level of asam saktihi is given the title “brahmavid varaha”. When he comes to the sixth level of padhartha bhavani is called the “brahmavid variyan”, when when he reaches the seventh level of turyaga is called the “brahmavid varishta”.
This is the project of experiencing the joy of atma meditation but even though we talk about these four types of brahmavid varaha, variyan, varishtaha, Videha mukti, what we have to underline is in the case of all these four the atma jnanam there is no gradation under the sense of fulfillment there is no gradation because the fulfillment is dependent on centered on the brahma-swarupam which is common to all, therefore jnanam and purnatvam will be uniform for all because it is not dependent on the degree of happiness that is experienced at the mental level the degree of happiness experienced at the mental level has no influence on “I am nitya mukta brahma”. Success on the project is depends on Prarabda and optional effort by jnani.
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Swami Paramarthananda teaches: Practice of Nidhidyasana (Ni), is keeping Vedantic knowledge alive in the mind all the time, by all spiritual seekers, even if they are not continuing to pursue further knowledge (e.g. for health reasons). In life we face troubling events caused by our Prarabda which at times may be traumatic and overwhelming; The only solution may be remembering Vedantic knowledge constantly as the “emergency exit” out of samsara’s traumatic grip. It may rarely be used, however this exit path must be “well serviced”. The “normal exits” from samsara are by practicing karma yoga of dharmic actions as “duties” without expectations in return. During sravanam, mananam we use the words like atma, sakshi, brahman etc., implying reference to something else. In Nidhidyasanam, we need to use the words “I”, the subject.
5 capsules for dwelling in Nidhidyasanam. Remembering these is “servicing the emergency exit” out of samsara.
1) I am of the nature of eternal and all pervading Consciousness.
2) I am the only source of permanent peace, security and happiness. Dont lean on the mithya world for external joy.
3) By my mere presence, I give life to the material body and thru the body, I experience the material world.
4) I am unaffected by any event that happens in the material universe or the material body.
5) Forgetting my nature will convert life into struggle and remembering my nature will convert life into entertainment.
It is in my own hand!. Not with Guru, not with Scriptures, and not with Ishwara.
The mithya jagat is beyond comprehension and beyond control which are the negative aspects. The positive aspects is that the mithya world cannot affect “I” (Asango hum).A jnani understands that all divisions in the triangular format of Jiva, Jagat, and Ishwara (which are all Names&Forms), implies that Jiva is afflicted by Karma, and he has to beg Ishwara for protection. However, Ishwara cannot take Jiva out of karma cycles. The jnani, through understanding, knows the Self as Atma, and all appearance as N&F and therefore anatma. Anatma borrows its temporary existence from atma alone, which leads to the understanding of Sarva atma bhava. Only Atma exists. The jnani relaxes in this understanding and enjoys witnessing the fluctuations of jagat (including body/mind) as entertainment.
The central objective of nididhyāsanam is dwelling on the teaching and assimilating it. This is a process of internalizing the teaching like soaking in the syrup of advaita jñanam (like rasagolla or gulab jamun). This can be done in different ways:
Through repeated śravaṇam, your mind can remain in the teaching. Initially, you get new ideas through śravaṇam. When you listen to teaching repeatedly, you do not get new ideas, but you get the opportunity to remain in the teaching. Repeated reading (of your own notes), writing, discussions with peers and teaching someone are all effective methods of nididhyāsanam to remain in the teaching.
Try to imitate the behavior of a jīvanmukta who has assimilated and transformed. After some time, it will become natural. Swami Dayananda said – “fake it and make it”. We ask the children to do namaskāra at the temple or to a mahātmā. They do it mechanically without reverence. The parents train them with the hope that this mechanical practice will turn into a reverential one. We can imitate the mahātmās described in the Gītā in chapters 2 (verses 54-72), 13 (verses 13-20) and 14 (verses 21-27) and lead an alert life.
Meditation is a traditional form of nididhyāsanam. It is practiced in a specific place in a specific posture as described in Verse 5 of Kaivalya Upaniṣad. This exercise of focusing is called samādhi abhyāsaḥ (samādhiḥ = focus; abhyāsaḥ = exercise). The focus is not on Brahman as an object, but on any aspect of the teaching that is relevant to you. If I feel I am lacking something in life, I should meditate that do not lack anything in life, indicating pūrṇatvam. If I fear dying, I should focus on nityatvam (eternal). If relationships are causing problems, focus should be on asaṅgatvam (non-attachment). Thus, choose the appropriate teaching and focus on it to internalize it.
The purpose of nididhyāsanam is not mokṣa. Through the teaching, we have understood that mokṣa is not a future event to happen. It is to remind ourselves that a change in a situation will not make me free because I am already free despite that situation. It is not even meant for knowledge, which is gained only through śravaṇam. Nididhyāsanam is not meant to prove, confirm or validate the knowledge. Proving is done by mananam. It is not for gaining an extraordinary experience because all experiences belong to anātmā. Ordinary experiences belong to ordinary anātamā and extraordinary experiences belong to extraordinary anātmā. Even Śaṅkarācārya admits that extraordinary experiences are possible, but they have no relationship to selfknowledge.
A jñānī is not necessarily a siddhi, a mystic with extraordinary experiences or powers. There are four types of people:
A jñānī who is also a siddhi
A jñānī who is not a siddhi
A siddhi who is not a jñānī (like Rāvaṇa)
One who is neither a siddhi nor a jñānī (the majority)
Thus, nididhyāsanam is for solely for assimilation of the teachings by dwelling on them. What is the sign of assimilation? It is the change in the unhealthy reaction or responses to the situations in life. One will attain peace (śānti) – samatvam – which is the experience of the benefit of self-knowledge (brahmajñānaphala anubhava). There is no experience of Brahman. This transformation is not instantaneous; it is gradual. It can be measured using the FIT test:
F – reduction in Frequency of unhealthy reactions to situations in life
I – Reduction in Intensity at all three levels – physical, verbal and mental. The intensity of disturbance at the mental level is the least, where one knows he is angry, but has sufficient balance to postpone reaction. The physical reaction is the most intense because it has crossed the other two levels.
T – Reduction in the Time of recovery. How much time to recover balance? It is said that a uttama puruṣa recovers in a moment, the madhyama in 1 ½ hours and adhama in 24 hours, but a pāpi (sinner) does not recover even till death.
The Vedānta does not expect us to be completely free of these reactions; it only helps us to keep the balance. A healthy body does get sick sometimes, but recovers fast because it has the internal immunity to fight the disease and get back to health. Similarly, a healthy mind bounces back negative state like a rubber ball, while an unhealthy mind stays in the negative emotions like a wet clay ball. This benefit of jñāna (jñānaphalam) is called jīvanmuktiḥ.
This teaching is at the end part of the Vedas and therefore, it is called Vedāntaḥ (Vedantaḥ). Since the focus is on jñāna (self-knowledge) in this section, it is called jñānakāṇḍa. It is also called the Upaniṣad. In this stage of spiritual progression, karma is not absent, but the focus is predominantly on brahmavidyā or ātmavidyā, which is the knowledge of myself as the ever free one.
Śaṅkarācārya has given a special meaning to the word Upaniṣad: upaniṣannaṁ śreyaḥ asyām iti upaniṣat – that in which freedom is hidden or kept. By analyzing the Upaniṣads, you are discovering the freedom within yourself. You discover freedom at the emotional level (ātmayeva ātmanā tuṣtaḥ) and achieve total self-satisfaction and fulfillment, not after death, but here and now. Therefore, the study of the Upaniṣads should not be treated as an academic exercise.
Swami Paramarthananda studied in Sandeepany Sadhanalaya of Chinmaya Mission. Took Sanyasa from Swami Dayananda (arsha vidya). He is devoted to both Masters - Swami Chinmayananda and Swami Dayananda. Swami later started taking Advaita Vedanta shastra classes in Chennai.
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Avinashilingam is presenting a summary of Swamiji's online classes 2021 in the following links:
GROUP A CLASSES
UDDHAVA GITA CHAPTER 5
GROUP B CLASSES
UDDHAVA GITA CHAPTER 8
BHAGAVAD GITA CHAPTER 3
A JOURNEY THROUGH HOLY PLACES (in English & Tamil)
By Sarma Sastrigal. Places covered Naimisaranyam, Gaya, Kasi , Triveni Sangamam, Haridwar and Rishikesh. The weblink is:
PROFOUND Q & A ON VEDANTA BY SWAMI PARAMARTHANANDA:
We have updated Question No.137. The weblink is:
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