What is Atman, Paramatman and Sadhana?

Posted By: Tapas Dev Tag: Q & A Last Update: 20/04/2019

Due to internal clash and cohesion amongst the three immanent principles (sentient, mutative and static), the resultant force bursts out at any one vertex of the triangle formed due to the ever-flowing eternal force. Puruśa, or Consciousness, is the Nucleus from whom commences the process of saiṋcara, or uniform movement from the subtle to the gross, from the one to the many. Mahattattva, Ahaḿtattva and citta are formed as a result of increasing crudeness, and mind is born at the stage where all three – Mahattattva, Ahaḿtattva and citta – are present. The original entity is the unqualified undivided Macrocosm. By further crudification the citta gets metamorphosed into five fundamental factors, namely, ethereal, aerial, luminous, liquid and solid. Right from Nucleus Puruśottama to the crudest solid, there is no change in Puruśadeha. The action and interaction of the three forces of Prakrti cause a change in appearance whereby the Transcendent Entity appears to have lost its transcendentality. This phase of evolution, named saiṋcara, is the inanimate phase of creation, and represents the Cosmic Mind, or Macrocosm, in different stages. In the living bodies after the formation of crudest kśititattva, or solid factor, division and association of matter result in the formation of mind.

The process of pratisaiṋcara commences at this point. It is the counter-movement wherein the unit mind gets dilated ever-increasingly, the volume and mass of the unit mind increases due to increasing reflection of Cosmic Consciousness, and matter gets decimated continuously, till in the end the unit mind achieves mental liberation. Philosophy terms it savikalpa samádhi.

Throughout pratisaiṋcara the unit mind or microcosm exists in different stages. Thus the inanimate phase of creation, or saiṋcara, is a stage of the Cosmic Mind, and the animate phase of pratisaiṋcara is the stage of unit minds.

Each and every atom and molecule of the Macrocosm is nothing else but Puruśottama. It is He who radiates Himself everywhere; it is He who is omnipresent as the witnessing entity as well. As the sun by its radiation pervades the solar system, so does Puruśottama His system by His Citishakti. Thus in the Cosmic Mind both the radiated stuff and the witnessing entity are Puruśottama Himself. In the second phase of evolution, that is, at the different stages of the unit mind, Puruśottama is the witnessing entity, all other objects being crude derivatives of citta. In the phases both of saiṋcara and pratisaiṋcara, Puruśottama is the Consciousness. He witnesses the microcosms and Macrocosm. Puruśottama is, therefore, also called “Collective Consciousness”.

As witnessing entity Puruśottama connects Himself to his mental object with the help of His Avidyámáyá and reflects Himself on the object as Citishakti. This reflection is not like a reflection in a mirror but a reflection involving association like the rays of the sun. Association of Puruśottama with the Cosmic Mind, whereby He functions as the witnessing entity, is called prota yoga; association of Puruśottama with the unit minds separately and individually, whereby He functions as the witnessing entity for each individual unit mind, is called ota yoga. His association with the unit minds in collectivity is also termed prota yoga. Thus in saiṋcara there is only prota yoga but in pratisaiṋcara both prota yoga and ota yoga are there.

It has been fully explained previously that the resultant force of Prakrti bursts out from one of the vertices of the triangle of forces of Prakrti, and that this is the origin of creation. The mid-point of this triangle of forces from whose vertex the bursting occurred is Puruśottama. The mid-points of these triangles of forces having bursting vertices coincide, and hence Puruśottama is a singular entity. Philosophers have defined Paramátman as the collective name for Puruśottama, His prota yoga in saiṋcara and ota and prota yogas in pratisaiṋcara. Paramátman signifies “conscious of creations”. It is the consciousness in the Nucleus and the consciousness in the Macrocosm and microcosms.

Macrocosm and microcosms themselves have not been included in Paramátman. The collectivity of Paramátman, Macrocosm and microcosms is Saguńa Brahma, that is, Brahma in which Prakrti appears in manifestation. In Saguńa Brahma, Puruśottama is the Nucleus Consciousness and so the latter is also named Kút́astha. The Nucleus Consciousness or the Átman in the unit structure is also called kút́astha caetanya. Its controlling station is the middle point between the eyebrows, the place where the functioning of the pituitary gland is located.

Saiṋcara is movement away from the Nucleus – the Nucleus itself being the centre of Brahma Cakra, or the great cycle of creation. The force of saiṋcara is, therefore, centrifugal. Philosophy refers to this outward movement as domination by Avidyámáyá or illusion of ignorance. Under the effect of Avidyámáyá creation moves from the subtle to the gross, finally reaching the farthest point in saiṋcara where the crudest solid or kśititattva is formed – where the metamorphosed form of the citta possesses the maximum chemical affinity, with no possibility of any further reduction in the intermolecular and interatomic spaces.

Depending on conditions, either the unit structure bursts at this point or jad́asphot́a occurs, or the mind is formed by a process of division and association of matter. The formation of mind is the start of the process of pratisaiṋcara or the cycle for the unit to progress from the crude to the subtle. This progress is effected by the domination of Vidyámáyá or illusion of knowledge, whereby the direction of motion is towards the Nucleus Puruśottama, the centre of all creations. Every step in this direction is a step nearer the centre, the destined goal of all, the ultimate result of all creations. This force is centripetal and is associated with the growing attraction of Puruśottama. This attraction is His blessing by which He leads every being of His towards the kindly divine light. The associated reflection of Puruśottama increases the proximity of the unit mind to Puruśottama. The mind proportionately expands and progresses till the gradual expansion brings about similarity of the microcosm and the Macrocosm and the former gets merged into the latter. This process occurs in pratisaiṋcara under the centripetal force of attraction from the Nucleus Consciousness, Puruśottama.

The unit mind, however, can accelerate the speed of this motion by realizing His blessing more and more and thereby acquiring a psycho-spiritual parallelism with greater speed. This attempt to accelerate the movement towards the ultimate goal is sádhaná. Only human beings possess the ego to perform this sádhaná. Spiritual sádhaná is nothing but the attempt to accelerate the motion of pratisaiṋcara and thereby cover up the painful hours of divine separation as early as possible. The touchstone of spiritual sádhaná is therefore the feeling that “I am tending towards Him.” Every delayed moment of life is only a moment of pain. That alone which brings His realization is His spiritual practice, all other actions being ritualistic ostentations.

Consciousness in the psycho-physical unit structures gets manifested in the process of pratisaiṋcara when Puruśottama by His ota yoga associatively reflects on the unit psychic plate. It is through this process, pratisaiṋcara, that the Ever-Merciful elevates each creation of His by the force of Vidyámáyá. As already discussed, the physical and psychic clash and the attraction of the Great cause psychic dilation, and ultimately the unit psychic body can attain its final liberation or mukti by its spiritual sádhaná. Different unit minds exist at different levels and experience varying degrees of His love and proximity depending upon their progress in the process of pratisaiṋcara. The auspicious day of infinite ánanda descends, and all the bondages of Prakrti shatter down, when Brahmatva is attained.

Such individuals set the ideal for humanity and, in turn, humanity starts paying homage to them. Only such elevated beings can and should be called Mahápuruśa, meaning thereby elevated psychic beings. Unto their holy feet, one can offer the flowers of devotion and aspiration, but they desire no crude earthly flowers and offerings.

The advent of Mahápuruśa is misinterpreted as incarnation. Incarnation is an illogical hypothesis. The whole universe being created out of Him and by Him is His incarnation. The term avatára means a “derivation”, and the application of this term to individual units who are far advanced in the process of pratisaiṋcara is a misleading misnomer. It is illogical to consider that the Macrocosm metamorphosed Himself directly into some unit structure, in most cases a human being. Human beings are the most evolved individual units as a class in His creation, and every stage of the elevated psychic Mahápuruśa is the result of saiṋcara and then pratisaiṋcara. It is a gradual elevation and not an abrupt descent or occurrence.

Logically speaking, therefore, it will be correct to designate any unit consciousness as incarnation of God or to say that the Messenger of God traverses the path of saiṋcara, goes through a process of evolution and importance, and through psychic dilation in the process of pratisaiṋcara reaches different stages of elevation. The incarnation theory, or avatáraváda, however, hypothesizes that the incarnated being is the direct descent of the Almighty, the rest of His creation remaining unexplained as to its source of origin.

The word avatára [derives from ava – tr, which means] “descend”, “derive” or “degenerate”. The incarnated being, according to this dogma of degeneration of Puruśottama, cannot have an equal status with Puruśottama. When the psychic status of a created being assumes sameness with the Cosmic Entity, the unit psychic entity actually merges into the Cosmic Mind leaving no dualism. Hence how can any equal status with Puruśottama be imagined existing as a separate entity in any stage within Brahma Cakra? The whole theory of incarnation or avatáraváda is, therefore, not convincing and rational for an intellectual analysis.

Behind the superstitious belief of avatáraváda lies one more social current created by a class of vested interests. Inquisitiveness and reasoning is a natural impulse in human beings. Due to certain pressing circumstances or intellectual renaissance there was a reaction against the illogical faiths and superstitions prevalent in society. These superstitions provided a strong basis for exploitation of society by intellectual parasites who had learnt to live on the blood and labour of others. To maintain their domination through a system of superstitious belief, these parasites invented means to curb this growth of reaction and intellectual rationalism and presented to the mass a sentimental appeal. Any command, rational or irrational, was enforced on society with so-called divine force by enunciation of the incarnation theory. Corruption was perpetrated in the name of God, and all those raising their heads against such commands or preachings were called reactionaries, atheists, and curbed drastically. “Give the dog a bad name and hang it,” was their motto. They went to the extent of manipulating, polluting and misinterpreting even the precious writings of many great philosophers whose work had been respected as religious treatises from ancient times – all with an ulterior motive, to get their interests served.

Táraka Brahma

In Brahma Cakra (the collective name of saiṋcara and pratisaiṋcara) there is no uniformity of flow. The speed of the sentient force is greater than that of the mutative, and the mutative has more speed than the static. Thus in the beginning of saiṋcara the speed is greater. Similarly, after elevation, under the influence of the sentient force or reaching sámánya deha (a stage beyond the hirańmaya kośa where the unit mind experiences only the sentient force), the speed is greater. The speed of the unit mind far exceeds the normal flow in the Cosmos, and it gets accelerated if the unit mind as a result of spiritual practice tends itself towards the Nucleus Consciousness.

Since the beginning of creation humans have been aspiring for this merger with the Nucleus Consciousness. The non-uniformity of speed changes the movement of the unit mind to an elliptical force, and the motion changes to oval from circular. They get merged in Puruśottama who aspire for Him as the ultimate destiny, but those who aim at mokśa, where sádhaná is the complete surrender of self into That (Nirguńa Brahma, the Objectless Consciousness), get out of this Brahma Cakra by a tangential touch. At this point of tangential touch is the abode of Táraka Brahma (who resides within the scope of both Nirguńa and Saguńa Brahma). Táraka Brahma is a concept of Tantra.

In Tantra the whole creation is known as sambhúti. When Táraka Brahma by His own will takes the help of the five fundamental factors (the paiṋcabhútas), His physical entity comes within the scope of Saguńa Brahma, otherwise He is Nirguńa Brahma. When Táraka Brahma takes the assistance of the five fundamental factors, according to Tantra it is called His Mahásambhúti.

In Tantra sádhaná or in Ananda Marga sádhaná one whose goal is Puruśottama merges in Saguńa Brahma, and one who aims at Nirguńa Brahma becomes surrendered into the Objectless Entity. It is only in Tantra that the sádhaná of Táraka Brahma has been specially defined distinct from the sádhaná of Nirguńa and Saguńa and has its own peculiarity. Theoretically speaking, Saguńa Brahma has infinite saḿskáras, and so for an infinite time to come Saguńa Brahma will continue to enjoy the fruit of Its own past actions. Nirguńa is the Objectless Entity with no action or derivation, but Táraka Brahma is the middle point and can fulfil the function of both. He guides, loves and favours His affectionate sons and daughters. His children say that He cannot live without loving them and address Him, “O our great Father, our affectionate Mother, our All, we remember Thee, we adore Thee. O Witnessing Entity, we offer our homage to Thee, Thou art the only rescue in this crude worldly ocean, so to Thee we surrender ourselves.” This complete surrender is the summum bonum of all spiritual sádhaná, which only can lead to Him from where decline is not even imaginable. Really blessed is one who has attained this complete surrender unto Him, like the piece of salt which went to measure the depth of the ocean – but a momentous divine jerk and an attraction occurred and the bit of salt was lost, no one knows where.

(Táraka Brahma is not a figure of philosophy – it is a creation of devotional sentiment.)

1 June 1959, Jamalpur