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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spiritual Practice and Mystical Experience According to the Abhangas of Jnanadeva

Spiritual Practice and Mystical Experience According to the Abhangas of Jnanadeva

(Pictured above, the cover of, Garland of Divine Flowers --- Selected Devotional Lyrics of Saint Jnanesvar, P.V. Bobde, published by Motilal Barnarsidass of Delhi)

Meditation Sangat:
{"Do not live even a single day without inner meditation." --- Baba Devi Sahab}

Below is from the Chapter on the 13th Century mystic Sant Jnanadeva found in the book, Mysticism in India --- The Poet-Saints of Maharashtra, by R.D. Ranade, SUNY Press of New York. R.D. Ranade paraphrases, quotes, and sums up various teachings found in the Abhangas, Jnanesvari, and the Amritanubhava of Sant Jnanadeva.

A Living Master Reveals God's Name to the Initiate-Student and Instructions For Going Within

The spiritual teacher is verily the King of all the Saints. Him we may call an Ocean of Happiness, or a Mine of Love, or a Mountain of Courage, or the Source of Dispassion. The spiritual teacher is an invariable protector of his disciple. Like a wish-tree, he yields all desires to a devotee....The Name, upon which he asks us to meditate, puts an end to all knowledge, as it puts an end to ignorance (Abg. 16). When Prahlada uttered the name of God, God came to his rescue. God's name is indeed the best and holiest of all things. It is God's name which came to the succour of Dhruva, of Gajendra, of Ajamila, of Valmiki (Abg. 18). Mountains of sin shall perish in an instant at the utterance of the name of God (Abg.20). There is neither time nor season for the utterance of God's name (Abg. 24). The devotees of God feed upon the nectar of His name. The Yogins find it a source of eternal life (Abg. 25). If we meditate intensely on the Name of God within, God shall take pity upon us. Jnanadeva silently counts this rosary of God's name within himself {Abg. 27), and is therefore able to see the universe wholly filled with God (Abg. 28).

Colour Experience

6. Jnanadeva's mystical experience is very rich and varied. We shall begin first by a consideration of the various colours that a mystic is ...... to see. Jnanadeva tells us that "the abode of God is the thousand-petalled cavity in the brain, where is the source of spiritual bliss. One sees the red, the white, the blue and the yellow colours, and sees these with a pure vision. I need not tell you much," says Jnanadeva, "you already know these things. You understand these things, and remain silent" (Abg. 45). Jnanadeva tells us that the mystic sees a perpetual spiritual show. "One sees the black, the blue, and the tawny colours. The eye is lost in the eye. Let now the blue colour remain firm in the mind .. . . . . . In the eye one is able to see pure light, and one can see it even while living in the body" (Abg. 46). The dark-blue colour is very much insisted upon by Jhanadeva. God also manifests Himself in a dark-blue shape (Abg. 47)." "The dark-complexioned husband is the source of bliss. . . . . . He has filled my inside and outside," says Jnanadeva (Abg. 48). "It is impossible to take measure of Him. One cannot remember Him too often. One can never too much sing His praises when the dark-complexioned God is seen" (Abg. 49). It is this same dark-complexioned Being who lives in the heavens. He is the same as Atman. I have seen Him with these eyes, says Jnanadeva, where He remains imperishable as ever (Abg. 50). He plays a dark game on a dark night; he manifests himself as a dark-blue god (Abg. 51). The dark-blue colour fills the whole universe. The dark-blue being sees the dark-blue Person (Abg. 52). The blue light spreads everywhere. The heavens are merged in that blue light. The blue God lives in our very hearts, says Jnanadeva (Abg. 53).

Form Experience

7. Next to the experience of colour, comes the experience of forms, which are the objects of a mystic's vision on his spiritual journey. Of these the pearl constitutes the first kind of experience. "Beautiful indeed is that pearl which sheds light through all its different eight sides" (Abg. 57). "The pearl ornament is indeed a source of bliss. It cannot be had in the market. It cannot be had in a city. It can be had only by the force of concentration" (Abg. 58). "Priceless indeed is that jewel which thou hast attained. Dost thou not know that it is the source of the Godhead? It cannot perish. It cannot be fathomed. It need not be protected from a robber. That imperishable Jewel has been attained by me, says Jnanadeva, through the instruction of my Spiritual Teacher" (Abg. 56). Then Jnanadeva describes the experience of circles. "What work indeed has he accomplished who has not investigated the nature of the circle? He has been inflated with ignorance . . . . . . It is only when the circle has been investigated that God comes to be found. The mellifluous experience is hard to be spoken of. The first circle is of a white colour. In the midst of it is a dazzling circle. The still inner circle is of a red colour, and the final circle is blue. . . . . . Until this circle is investigated all else is ignorance. . . . . . I have spoken about it to you by the grace of Nivritti" (Abg. 59). Jnanadeva tells us further on that inside the palace of these circles is the form of God (Abg. 60). "This circle is indeed a void. What appears, is a void; what sees, is a void; when the void and the non-void are both lost, there is the form of the Self" (Abg. 61). Next comes the vision of the eye. "By the eye is the eye to be seen, and it is indeed the end of the void. It shines forth like a dark-blue circle. In it rests the light form of God" (Abg. 62). It is the Eye of all eyes. It is the Blue of all the blues (Abg. 64). "Now my eye tries to penetrate my eye. The eye sees the eye in the eye. The eye was verily shown to Jnanadeva by Nivritti [his spiritual Master/Satguru], and he saw the eye in all places" (Abg. 63). ...............

Light Experience

8. Next to morphic experiences, come the experiences of light. Jnanadeva tells us that the whole world is filled by incomparable light. "Interest merges in interest; love throbs; I have seen the intensive form of God. He is full of sound and light,. . . . .The dawn breaks, and the light of the Sun spreads ..forth. . . . . . By the spiritual instruction of Nivritti, Jnanadeva has attained to spiritual wisdom" (Abg. 73}. "Jnanadeva sometimes speaks of the moonlight which shines without the moon . . . .. God, the cause of all the universe, appears there as subtle and as small as an atom. Vitthala [God] is indeed personal and impersonal" (Abg. 71). "Even the sun's light is inferior to the light of the Atman. In God, indeed, there is neither day nor light. Beyond all duality Jnanadeva has seen the eye, and nothing can stand in comparison to it" (Abg. 70). God is indeed seen in the Super-conscious state. . . His light is greater than the light of the moon and the sun. This Self-experience is known only to those who have learned it from their spiritual master (Abg. 69). And is it not wonderful, asks Jnanadeva, that the sun should shine by night; and the moon by day? Contrary to all experiences is this. There is neither rising nor setting in Atman. He is his own mirror. Only the man of experience knows, says Jnanadeva, and Saints became pleased by that sign (Abg. 72). "That light is indeed seen in the thousand-petalled lotus where there is neither name nor form" (Abg. 68); "and it is wonderful that that light is neither hot nor cold" (Abg. 67); "and beyond indeed that light is God who remains transcendent" (Abg. 104).

Sound Experience

9. Jnanadeva's experience of sound is not expressed with the same fullness with which his colour experience or form experience or light experience are expressed. Indeed, in the Jnanesvari, he has spoken of the sound which fills the whole universe, telling us that a mystic does not know whence it comes, and whither it goes. In his Abhangas he does make mention of that unstruck sound which is heard in the process of mystic contemplation, and Jnanadeva tells us that beyond it is the light of God (Abg. 74). .....................

God Can Be Attained In All States of Consciousness

10. The experience of God can be attained in all the states of consciousness---in the waking God can be attained state, in the dream state, in the deep-sleep state, as well as in the Super-conscious state. When all these states become alike, then God is attained. Jnanadeva employs an allegory to tell us how God is to be experienced in all these states. The Waking State is personified and is made to say that she heard the voice of God in the courtyard, and saw Him with her own eyes. The Dream State and the Deep-Sleep State say that they are full of love towards God, and when they will realise God, then the cymbals will be sounded. The Super-conscious State is made to say that everything that belonged to her was taken away by God, and she was made to remain deeply silent (Abg. 84). Elsewhere also Jnanadeva tells us how in all the different states of consciousness---in the waking state, in the dream-state, and in the deep-sleep state---his mind was full of the bliss of God (Abg. 83). In fact, God's bliss, according to Jnanadeva, could be attained in all states of consciousness.