Ram Madhav
August 5, 2019

5th International Dharma Dhamma Conference: Sat-Chit-Ananda and Nirvana

Text of Keynote address delivered at the 5th International Dharma Dhamma Conference at Nalanda University, Rajgir, Bihar on July 27, 2019

Alexander was on his way when he bumped into Diogenes, a naked monk resting nonchalantly by the beach. Soldiers woke him up asking to give way to Alexander The Great. Diogenes laughed out loud. ‘I haven’t seen a more foolish man calling himself ‘the great’, says Diogenes. A philosophical discourse ensues. Alexander was convinced and decides to follow Diogenes. But seeks time till he accomplishes his mission of conquering the world. ‘Impossible’, says Diogenes. ‘If you want, come now; give up everything. Else you will never’, he says.

Alexander greets Diogenes and asks if he can do anything for him. ‘Get out of the way and allow me to enjoy my sunbath’, scolds Diogenes.

What Alexander had with Diogenes was a philosophical discourse. Philo is love and Sophy is knowledge. What Diogenes proposed was, to quote Rajneesh, philosophia – love of tasting and experiencing.

That experience is Satchidananda. Sat means Existence; Chit means Consciousness; and Ananda is Eternal Bliss – Parama Ananda.

Rishi Aurobindo says that at the superior plane they are not three different entities but only one. Existence is Consciousness and Consciousness is Bliss at the supramental level. They are inseparable; and are indistinct from each other. They are one and the One, Omnipresent and Omnipotent; the divine; god consciousness.

Reaching there is the goal of life. Reaching there is a journey inwards.

It is well known in eastern philosophies that humans have body, intellect, mind and soul. Man is a physical, vital, mental and spiritual being.

There is dualism in first three. At physical level we experience pain and pleasure; face health and disease; the two opposites. Similarly at the vital – Buddhi- level we feel happiness as well as sadness. At the mind level we have emotions like love and hatred. None of these are permanent or static. They are constantly changing, transient states. Yet there is dualism in these three levels.

But soul is non-dual. There are no opposites at spiritual level. Conversely, realising non-duality is spiritualism. Therein lies the ultimate happiness. Some call it the Eternal Bliss – Parama Ananda. Some describe it as Moksha.

Soul-happiness is a stage in our inward journey. ‘It is in giving, not in taking, the eternal bliss is there’, said eminent philosopher Jiddu Krishna Murthy. A mother is happy when her child is well-fed even if she remained hungry. A father is happy when his son is well-educated even if he were to end up in debt. This happiness is of the soul. But it is because of the Bandhanas or bonds – my son, or my child – that, in a limited sense of time and space, many achieve this state of soul-happiness. But eternal bliss or Mokshtva occurs only when we rise above the bonds.

An interesting and unique dimension to note is that this state of bliss has been achieved not by those who desired for it intensely, but by those who rejected it.

‘Natvaham Kamaye Rajyam Na Swargam Nachaapunarbhavam;   
Kaamaye Dukhataptanaam Praaninaam Aarti Naashanam’,    

said Raja Ranti Dev. ‘I do not have any desire for this kingdom, nor heaven, nor even birthlessness or Moksha; all that I am desirous of is mitigating the sorrows of the living’, he said. He attained Mokshatva. ‘I want to be born again and again on this holy land until I mitigate the hunger of the last dog’, said Swami Vivekananda. We didn’t see him return.

Desiring for Moksha itself is a desire. Eternal bliss is possible when one overcomes all desires including the desire for eternal bliss. Desires originate at mind level. Light travels at 1,68,000 miles/sec; desires travel faster than that. Not easy to control them. ‘Men and nations behave wisely only after they have exhausted all other alternatives’, commented Abba Eban, the Israeli diplomat once.

Satchidanand or Moksha is not there to desire or gain, but to experience. This experience begins from the physical world – Isavasyamidam Sarvam – Everything here is Isvara, the divine. Man has to travel from that realisation of the Omnipresent to a state where he becomes the Omnipresent himself, described in Upanishads as Aham Brahmasmi – I am the Creator. From Being to Becoming is the journey. Becoming is Moksha. Upanishads called that becoming as Satchidanand.

Buddha’s trajectory was different. Buddha described bliss as ending of sorrow. Where there is no sorrow, that is bliss. Not overcoming desires, but ending sorrow, dukh-nirodh is bliss according to Buddha.

Hence Buddha talked about Nirvana, not Moksha. In Moksha, ‘I’ still exists. I have to get Moksha, means I have to be Mukt, free from bonds and desires. But as long as there is ‘I’, where is ‘mukti’? Nirvana is when you are just not there, like a candle that has been extinguished. Buddha called it Sunyata.

The Upanishadic concept of Purnata is akin to Buddha’s Sunyata.

Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate       
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavasishyate – 

Purnata, the Wholeness is indivisible, existent non-existence; manifest unmanifestness. You add or subtract, it will still be Purnata only.

This journey towards Sunyata or Purnata is tedious. Adi Shankara talked about this physical world being the biggest impediment; he called it ‘Maya’ – mythical, illusional. There is no physical state called Maya; it is the state of mind. All illusion starts in the mind of man. Mind only tells you that world is Maya. The physical world is there; it is real. Man has to journey through it. To reach the Purnata, man has to rise above illusions of mind. All philosophies, ideologies and practices are experiments in that direction only.

Hindus have mastered the science of being in the physical world while journeying towards the inner world. They called it Dharma. Dharma is a set of rules that guide the human mind in this world and hereafter. ‘Yatobhyudaya Nisshreyasa Siddhihi sa Dharmah’ – Dharma is one that derives progress in this world and happiness in the other.

Dharma is nothing but natural order. It prescribes that man learns to live naturally and spontaneously. Krishna’s Gita was a spontaneous response to Arjuna in distress; not a premeditated discourse or a pre-ordered textbook. Exist spontaneously. Dont reject existence in search of Satchidanand. Existence is Sat. Rather have deep-felt gratitude for existence. Just love it and live it.

But exist not for anything, any belief or ideology. Just exist and enjoy. In a Paper on Hinduism presented at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago on September 19, 1893, Swami Vivekananda narrates a conversation between King Yudhishthir and his wife, where she questions the reason for his miseries. To this, Yudhishthir says, “Behold my queen, the Himalayas, how grand and beautiful they are; I love them. They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful, therefore, I love them. Similarly, I love the lord. He is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love him, and therefore, I love. I do not pray for anything; I do not ask for anything. Let him place me wherever he likes. I must love him for love’s sake. I cannot trade in love”. This is the basis of the Ananda philosophy in Hindu dharma, where the experiencer gains Ananda without conditions or quid pro quo.

That is why Krishna in the end tells Arjuna – Sarva Dharman Parityajya Maamekam Sharanam Vraja – Reject all religions and ideologies; just realise Me alone and submit.

For that realisation Upanishads have prescribed Sadhna and Buddha taught Dhyana. Meditation is the common word for both. Meditation is not about concentration. Concentration means fighting with the mind, trying to tie it down to one word or image. Concentration is conflict with your mind. Meditation is not about concentration, but about relaxation of mind. If there is relaxation in crying or laughing or running, that is your meditation.

Only question that matters in all this effort is whether you experience your inner and real You? That is Satchidananda or Nirvana.

(Click here to access the video of the address)

Published by Ram Madhav

Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation

7th Indian Ocean Conference - IOC 2024

7th Indian Ocean Conference - IOC 2024

August 5, 2019
Peace, Prosperity, Partnership for a Resilient Future

Peace, Prosperity, Partnership for a Resilient Future

August 5, 2019

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 + 10 =