(Copy of post 26592 “Experiencing advaita”, of ‘advaitin’ yahoo-group, dated May 6, 2005)
This advaita experience is a tricky business. Most of us are trying to describe it without having the experience! What we are writing is only what we read from books or what we observe of accredited jnAnis like Shri Ramana Maharishi. So there cannot be a final word about it from our angle.
One opinion is ‘JnAni is not a vegetable’.
Another opinion is ‘a Jnani Purusha alone knows what is his own state. Isn't it preposterous for any one else to describe it?’
My experience comes from my observations of my own father. He was not a renunciate (Sannyasi) in the physical sense. He lived all his life in the midst of family and household. I have observed him for nearly as about the last 25 years of his life. I was 29 when he passed away. I lost my mother when I was six. (My father was 51 then). So my father was everything for me thereafter. I have therefore carefully observed him through all the family circumstances. He had two widowed sisters (elder to him, both issueless and both penniless) (both of whom he was supporting ever since his age 25 when he lost his father) and a widowed sister-in-law (=my mother’s sister) (rich but very careful with her possessions). One of these widowed sisters was being supported by him by allowing her to remain in her own village. The other sister and the sister-in-law were alternately taking care of our household and in their absence, with the help of hired help of maid-servant-cooks. I had two sisters 12 and 15 years elder to me, both married. Every year one of them would be back at our place for their next delivery and would stay consequently for at least three months with their children. One of them had a husband, not known for frugality, so that through her there would be always financial problems presented as challenges to my father who was himself a meagre earner as an employee in the local Sub-court. I had an elder brother, 10 years elder to me, and he and his wife and all of us were living as a joint family .
Even when my father was in his twenties he had been, during summer vacations, studying under the feet of Shri Shri Vasudeva Brahmendra of Ganapati Agraharam, Tanjore District. He had also been sitting as a public witness-listener to the Bhashya teachings given to Shri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (now called Kanchi Mahaswamigal) in the second (or first?) decade of the 20th century at the Kanchi mutt, Kumbakonam. And further he used to study and write vigorously (literally till the last day of his 74-year life) all the 24 hours from any scriptural book that he can bring from the Library.
With all this by age 32 or so he had already started his Vedantic expositions. His first such exposition was on Suta-samhita!
So resuming my account of my younger days, I could see that amidst all the overweighing family problems, he was teaching Gita Bhashya pAtham at home to a few friends every morning – except five anadhyayana days in the month. (I was not yet ten then, but I used to sit in those classes).
I have written all this to give you a picture of this karma-bhakti-jnAna yogi in action. His elaborate puja never stopped even for a single day. (You would be surprised to know that in one of his travels by train from Madras to Calcutta, his train stopped at a major station on the banks of the Godavari and it appears he had a quick bath in the river, came back to the platform, spread out his puja paraphernalia, finished his puja and got back into the same train in which he is travelling).
His advaita knowledge and pursuit of advaita was so convincing from his behaviour as well as his reactions to events. He would take everything as God’s will -- good or bad, honour or dishonour, praise or blame, pain or pleasure, blame or insult, success or failure, small or big. I have seen it day by day, hour by hour. I have learnt most of my advaita by observing him rather than from scriptures.
His writings tell me now that all the time he was ‘experiencing advaita’. I cannot describe it because it was his experience. But I can ‘feel’ his experience even now, long after he left me!
Pardon me, please, for this lengthy post.