Monday, July 18, 2011

Jnanam bandhah - Knowledge binds

ज्ञानं बन्धः | (शिवसूत्र: १: २)
Jnanam bandhah:  (Knowledge binds) Shiva Sutras: 1: 2

This sutra has two readings. One is Jnanam bandhah and the other Ajnanam bandhah.

When we say ‘Jnanam bandhah’ it means knowledge is bondage.What kind of knowledge binds? The knowing that I am different from / other than the Universal Consciousness binds. In the path of Shaivism, nothing exists or does not exist that is separate from the Chitprakash (conscious self). So having differentiated knowledge is binding.

‘Ajnanam bandhah ‘is not knowing / ignorance is bondage. Not knowing 'what' can bind? Not knowing our own undifferentiated nature binds.

So ‘knowing’ our nature as individual consciousness and ‘not knowing’ our nature as universal consciousness both cause bondage. We are filled with differentiated knowledge (belief in individual independent existence) born out of ignorance and are thus bound in the wheel of repeated births and deaths. This ignorance of our oneness with the universal Self is the cause of the sprout of ‘Samsara’.

Similarly, Adi Shankara in his Tattva Bodhah says,

अविद्योपधिः सन् आत्मा जीव इत्युच्यते | मायोपाधि सन् ईश्वर इत्युच्यते |
एवम् उपाधिभेदात् जीवेश्वरभेददृष्टि यावत् पर्यन्तं तिष्टति
तावत् पर्यन्तं जन्ममरनादिरुपसंसारो न निवर्तते |
तस्मात्कारणात न जीवेश्वरयोर्भेदबुद्धिः स्वीकार्या ||

Avidya or ignorance binds the Jiva or individual. He identifies himself with his finite actions and thoughts and of his own free will binds himself. Thus engaging himself to seek what he already is and continues the cycle of birth and death. Knowing the individual self to be that infinite Existence-consciousness-bliss alone liberates from the cycle of transmigration. Hence Shankara urges us not to accept this ignorance–born difference between individual and universal and realize the essential oneness.

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