The three classes of Jnanis
Extracts from the book Tripura Rahasya.
103-104. Therefore, O Rishis! The chief requisite is one-pointed devotion to God. The devotee is the best of aspirants. The one devoted to Abstract Consciousness excels every other seeker. Consummation lies in the discernment of the Self as distinguished from the non-self.
105-112. The Self is at present confounded with the body, etc. Such confusion must cease and awareness of the Self must result as opposed to nescience in sleep. The Self is experienced even now; but it is not discerned rightly, for it is identified with the body, etc. There is therefore endless suffering. The Self is not hidden indeed; it is always gleaming out as ‘I’, but this ‘I’ is mistaken for the body, owing to ignorance. On this ignorance ceasing, the ‘I’ is ascertained to be the true consciousness alone; and that sets all doubts at rest. This and nothing else has been ascertained by the Sages to be the finality. Thaumaturgic powers such as flying in space, etc., are all fragmentary and not worth a particle of Self-realisation. For this is the unbroken and immortal bliss of the Self in which all else is included. Thaumaturgic powers are also a hindrance to Self-realisation. Of what use are they? They are but simple acrobatic tricks. The Creator’s status appears to a Self-realised man to be only a trifle. What use are these powers, unless for wasting one’s time?
113. There is no accomplishment equal to Self-realisation, which is alone capable of ending all misery, because it is the state of eternal Bliss.
114. Self-realisation differs from all accomplishments in that the fear of death is destroyed once for all.
115. Realisation differs according to the antecedent practice and, commensurate with the degree of purity of mind, may be perfect, middling or dull.
116-119. You have seen great pandits well versed in the Vedas and capable of chanting them quite correctly amidst any amount of distractions. They are the best. Those who are capable businessmen, repeat the Vedas quite correctly when they engage in chanting them without other distractions. These are the middle class. Whereas others are constantly chanting them and do it well. Such are of the lowest order among pandits.
Similarly there are distinctions among the Sages also.
120-121. Some Sages abide as the Self even while engaged in complex duties, such as ruling a kingdom (e.g., King Janaka); others can do so in the intervals of work; still others can do so by constant practice alone.
The three classes of Jnanis
They are respectively of the highest, the middle and the lowest order. Of these, the highest order represents the utmost limit of realisation.
18-24. The characteristics of a Jnani are hard to understand, because they are inscrutable and inexpressible. For instance, a pandit cannot be adequately described except by his appearance, gait and dress, because his feelings, depth of knowledge, etc., are known to himself alone; while the flavour of a particular dish cannot be exactly conveyed by words to one who has not tasted it. A pandit can be understood only by another pandit by his method of expression. A bird alone can follow the track of another bird. There are of course some traits which are obvious, and others which are subtle and inscrutable. Those which are obvious are their speech, language, postures of meditation, signs of worship, dispassion, etc., which can, however, be imitated by non-Sages.
25. What are accomplishments to others to the accompaniment of dispassion, meditation, prayer, etc., remain natural to the Sage whose mind is pure and unsophisticated.
36. The ignorant anticipate pleasure and pain before the enjoyment, recapitulate them after enjoyment, and reflect on them, so that they leave a strong impression on their minds.
42. The ignorant are not aware of the pure Self; they see it as always blemished and hence they believe in the reality of objective knowledge. They are therefore affected by the pleasures and pains of life.
The lower class of Jnanis
37. Jnanis of the lowest order also enjoy pleasure and pain like the ignorant, but their remembrance of such experiences is frequently broken up by intervals of realisation. Thus worldly experiences do not leave an impression on their minds.
43-49. As for the lowest order of Jnanis, these realize the Self off and on, and spells of ignorance overtake them whenever they are overcome by their predispositions. Then they look upon the body as the self and the world as real. They are often able to override the old tendencies, and thus there is an ongoing struggle between wisdom and ignorance — each of them prevailing alternately. The Jnani ranges himself on the side of wisdom and fights against ignorance until falsity is thoroughly blown out, and truth prevails. Therefore jnana is indivisible.
The middle class of Jnanis
38. Jnanis of the middle class, accustomed to control their minds by long-continued austerities, keep their minds in check even while experiencing pleasure and pain, and thus their response to the world is as indistinct as that of a man in sleep, to a gentle breeze playing on him or an ant creeping over his body.
The middle class of Jnanis are never deluded by their bodies. Delusion is the false identification of ‘I’ with the body; this never arises with the more advanced Jnanis, namely the middle class among them. Identification of the Self with the body is attachment to the body. The middle class of Jnanis are never attached to the body. Their minds are mostly dead because of their long practice and continued austerities. They are not engaged in work because they are entirely self-possessed. Just as a man moves or speaks in sleep without being aware of his actions, so also this class of yogi does enough work for his minimum requirements without being aware of it. Having transcended the world, he behaves like a drunken man. But he is aware of his actions. His body continues on account of his vasanas (predispositions) and destiny.
50-57. Forgetfulness of the Self never overtakes a middle class Jnani and wrong knowledge never possesses him. However, of his own accord, he brings out some predispositions from his own depths in order to maintain his body according to prarabdha. This is the conduct of an accomplished Jnani. As for the aspirant, there is no forgetfulness of the Self so long as he is engaged in practising samadhi. But the accomplished Jnani is always unforgetful of the Self and picks out his own predispositions according to his own choice. The highest Jnani makes no difference between samadhi and worldly transactions. He never finds anything apart from the Self and so there is no lapse for him.
Jnanis of the highest class
26. He whom honour and insult, loss or gain, cannot affect, is a Sage of the best class.
27. The best among Sages can, without hesitation, give complete answers on matters relating to Realisation and the sublimest truths. 28. He seems to be spontaneously animated when discussing matters pertaining to jnana (realisation) and is never tired of their exposition. 29. His nature is to remain without efforts. Contentment and purity abide in him. Even the most critical situations do not disturb his peace of mind.
30. These are qualities which must be tried for oneself and verified; they are of no value as tests applied to others, for they may be genuine or spurious.
31. An aspirant must first apply the tests to himself and always prove his own worth; he can then judge others.
32-33. How can the repeated testing of oneself fail to improve one? Let one not spend one’s time judging others; but let one judge oneself. Thus one becomes perfect.
34-38. What have here been called the traits of a Jnani are meant for one’s own use and not for testing others, because they admit of many modifications according to circumstances. For instance, a Jnani who has realised the Self with the least effort may continue in his old ways although his mind is unassailable. He looks like a man of the world for all practical purposes. How then can he be judged by others? Nevertheless, one Jnani will know another at sight, just as an expert can appraise precious stones at a glance.
122. Unbroken supreme awareness even in the dream state is the mark of the highest order.
123. The person who is not involuntarily made the tool of his mental predispositions, but who invokes them at will, is of the highest order. 124. He who abides in the Self as ‘I-I’, as spontaneously and continuously as the ignorant man does in the body, is again of the highest order.
125. He who, though engaged in work, does not look upon anything as non-self, is a perfect Sage.
126. He who, even while doing his work remains as if asleep, is a perfect Sage.
127. Thus the best among the Sages are never out of samadhi, be they working or idle.
128-133. He who is, from his own experience, capable of appreciating the states of other Jnanis, including the best among them, is certainly a perfect Sage. He who is not influenced by happiness or misery, by pleasure or pain, by desires, doubts or fear, is a perfect Sage. He who realizes pleasure, pain and every other phenomenon to be in and of the Self, is a perfect Sage. He who feels himself pervading all — be they ignorant or emancipated — is a perfect Sage. He who, knowing the trammels of bondage, does not seek release from them and remains in peace, is a perfect Sage. Those perfect among the Sages are dentical with Me. There is absolutely no difference between us.
Jnanis of the highest class do not identify the Self with the body but remain completely detached from their bodies. Their work is like that of a charioteer driving the chariot, who never identifies himself with the chariot. Similarly the Jnani is not the body nor the actor; he is pure intelligence. Though entirely detached within from action, to the spectator he seems to be active. He performs his part like an actor in a drama, and plays with the world as a parent does with a child.
39-41. Jnanis of the highest order are left untouched, for they always remain as the burnt skeleton of a cloth (retaining its old shape but useless) after their realisation. Just as an actor is not really affected by the passions which he displays on the stage, so also this Jnani, always aware of his perfection, is not affected by the seeming pleasures and pains which he regards as a mere illusion, like the horns of a hare.
55-56. Of the two higher orders of Jnanis, the one remains steadfast through his sustained practice and control of mind, whereas the other is so on account of the force of his discrimination and investigation. The difference lies in the merits of their intellect.
The middle order Jnani is fond of samadhi and voluntarily abides in it. There is accordingly a lapse, however slight, when he is engaged in worldly affairs, or even in the maintenance of his body. On the other hand, the Jnani of the highest order involuntarily and naturally abides in samadhi, and any lapse is impossible for him under any circumstances.
The Jnani of the middle order or of the highest order has no tinge of karma left in him, because he is in perfection and does not perceive anything apart from the Self. How can there be anything of karma left when the wild fire of jnana is raging, consuming all in its way?
Peace love harmony