2 – Drg Drsya Viveka (1): What is Vedanta? – Analysis of Awareness, Mind & Senses


Lecture 2 answers “What is meaning of Vedanta”. Pursuit of security and delights of life nurtures you when guided by ethics. Why we disregard ethics? What kind of text is Drig Drishya Viveka that we're studying? Verse 1 of text.

Source: Drg Drsya Viveka

What is Vedanta? It comes from Veda. Veda has 2 sections:

SECTION 1: DHARMA/ARTHA/KAMA: Points out rules of the game (dharma) in reference to Artha & Kama:

  • VALIDATES: It validates Artha (relationships/career) and However points out rules of the game, which going against, in short run seems like getting away with it, but actually detrimental to wellbeing.
    • If disregard laws in which life operates, you’ll be a loser. Just like not aligning with laws of gravity; I get hurt. Laws of dharma (rules of game) are like this. Laws of Dharma are built into all beings (EG: Kid hides when did something wrong, or feels guilty when hurts another).
    • However despite dharma, why do we find it difficult to follow? We know it’s inappropriate, yet we still do it. Because of Likes/dislikes. Long as following dharma is seen as loss on your side; you won’t run by rules of the game.
    • Therefore Veda shows; instead of becoming a gainer (when try to cheat the system), it points out you become the looser. Only when understand that, actions will change.
      • EG: While I’m interacting with you, I’m trying to maximize my gain… then nature of interaction will be of conflict, which is opposed to happiness; makes one unhappy.
  • CONSEQUENCES OF NOT FOLLOWING: Not following rules of the game manifests as:
    • Seen Results: Immediate response; guilt/fear of getting caught… which forms an orientation about life … and affects self-esteem. Another consequence is suspicion is developed. Because if I can lie and get away with it, then others can also lie and get away with it. Thus one becomes SUSPICIOUS of teachers/society… hence unable to learn nor enjoy life.
    • Unseen Results: When you disturb the system (when go against dharma). Since you’re part of the system, effects come back to you.  Unseen is when you can’t correlate present effect to past cause (yet it must be there because every result was earned by you). And since we can’t trace the effect, we make another assumption, “World is unfair”!
  • MOTIVE FOR ACTIONS: Veda also shows what is our real motive for doing anything:
    • Bhagavad Gita says, anything that is done in this world, is not for the others sake, it is for MY sake. You don't love wife for husband wife sake, but wife invokes the pleased-self in you. Long as wife invokes pleased-self in you, she is object of your love. So there's nothing “selfless” about marriage. You love children because it pleases you.
      • Does this then mean everybody is SELFISH? It’s selfish if focus is on my-wellbeing alone, without much concern for you/society. Not selfish if I am doing things for my sake, while also accounting the wellbeing for you. I'll gladly help another if it pleases me… and it’ll feel effortless. 
  • KAMA (dance/entertainment): Can’t be excluded because necessary for well-being. Only becomes detrimental when disregards others wellbeing.
    • If you choose to disregard dharma, there is a cost. Only begin to abide by it’s laws when see it’s in your interest to be kind to others. If you contribute to one’s wellbeing, you’re also contributing to your wellbeing, because you’ll get positive reinforcement, become likable & trustworthy in others eyes, etc.
    • Initially there is an effort to realign with the order, because our ineffective-normal seems more comfortable.
    • Therefore if keep dharma in mind, then pursuit of Artha & kama nurtures and matures you, rather then holds you back in reference to spiritual evolution. It’s not to please some God, but for your own well-being.

SECTION 2: MOKSHA: Provides a solution to a void that can’t be filled any other way then moksha:

  • Swami Dayananda said, “Vedanta is not for people who lost interest in world. If lost interest, go back into world, regain interest, and return to Vedanta”.
    • Similarly, Moksha is not for those who are disenchanted/critical of world. But who are engaged intelligently with it. And want to know something more then what senses can provide.
  • 2nd section is for people with question like: (1) Who am I? (2) Is my understanding of myself/world/cause-of-time-space accurate? Once answered, seeking permanent fulfillment ends, because meaning of “I” is much greater then thought.
  • Moksha is pursuit of freedom, which is centered on “I”. This is topic of Vedanta and Drk-Drsya-Viveka.
    • Discriminative enquiry (viveka) between Drk (nature of the seer) and Drsya (something that’s seen by me).
    • For example if ask “Who are you?”, everyone has an opinion. But Vedanta shows something different.
    1. Upanishads:
      • Upa: It’s relative. In reference to Sun, earth is nearer. In reference to necklace, my neck is nearer.
        • So what is nearest to you and is not relative to something else? Can’t be body, because in dream, awareness of body goes away. Can’t be mind, because in deep sleep, awareness of mind goes away. Nearest is Self, I.
      • Ni: Niścayatmika: Well ascertained nature of “I”. Because “I” is so near, it’s taken for granted, thus needs to be looked into to get “well ascertained” knowledge of it.
      • Sat: What will “well ascertained” knowledge of “I” give me? Answer is in word “sat”: It removes ignorance about nature of “I”, thus afflictions go.
    2. Bhagavad Gita:
      • What’s said in Upanishads is also said in Bhagavad Gita. Why has it gained such important place in tradition, even if it’s not part of Veda?
        • YOGA SHASTRA: Because we commit mistake about nature of “I”, and this mistake percolates into daily life. And every situation that confronts, is not seen in proper light. Thus you understand it from what you think it is, and try to solve it. But can’t solve it, thus frustration increases.
          • Therefore mind has to be ready to see day-to-day situations in proper light. And this is what Yoga Shastra deals with; preparation of mind so it can recognize the truth clearly; without your own subtraction or additions.
        • SUMMARY: Gita gives way to prepare the mind.
    3. Prakarana-granthas:
      • There are some teachers who understood Vedanta shastra, and attempted to explain in own words what they’ve understood. Drk-Drsya-Viveka is in this category; authored by Bharatī Tīrtha (Swami Vidyaranya). It’s a great book, because it’s rigorous in it’s analysis into nature of “I”.


    • As long as you think you are a small individual (limited by time / mortal / limited power ), there can’t be absolute freedom, or being comfortable with death.
    • Some resort to self-help; stating by changing your intention, you can get anything. There’s some truth, as you start aligning with a possibility. But (a) you won’t live long enough to attain it fully (b) and one thinks the whole universe has to reshuffle to adjust to “my needs”, (c) pursuit of happiness is ridden with unceasing disappointments.
    • So there’s only one possibility; maybe who you are much bigger then think. Book says, nature of drk is limitless. So we have to move from limitation to limitlessness. This is done by viveka. So our buddhi sees what text wants us to see.


Verse 1-5: Enumeration of 3 Types of Seer (drk)

VERSE 1: Three Levels of Seer-Seen Relationships

रूपं दृश्यं लोचनं दृक् तद्दृश्यं दृक्तु मानसम् । दृश्या धीवृत्तयः साक्षी दृगेव न तु दृश्यते ॥ १॥
rūpaṃ dṛśyaṃ locanaṃ dṛk taddṛśyaṃ dṛktu mānasam । dṛśyā dhīvṛttayaḥ sākṣī dṛgeva na tu dṛśyate ॥ 1॥
The eye is the seer, and form (and colour) the seen. That (eye) is the seen and the mind is (its) seer. The witness alone is the Seer of thoughts in the mind and never the seen.

[COMMENARY: The first verse introduces the three observers/illuminators that make up the individual – the sense organs, mind, and sākṣī (consciousness). The sense organs and mind are relative illuminators, meaning they can be both seers and seen. They borrow consciousness from the sākṣī. Consciousness flows from sākṣī to mind to sense organs to body and illumines the external world. Sākṣī cannot directly illuminate the world. Verses 2-5 elaborate on the first verse, providing more details on each component.]

  • In reference to forms (tree, sun) you see, what is the dṛk? The eyes. However, different conditions of eyes are also seen (EG: young = strong eye sign, older = weaker), and who is the seer in reference to eyes? Mind. Without mind, can’t see changing conditions of eyes. However what is the mind? Series of thoughts (dhīvṛttayaḥ). Almost 60K per day. And we live thinking mind is final dṛk. However verse says thoughts of mind are seen by me.
  • Who is final seer? Sākṣī dṛk eva na tu dṛśyate.
    • Sakshi means Awareness because of which you are able to see the thoughts of the mind. Before thought comes, are you there? Yes. While thought is going on, you’re there. When thought goes, you’re there. So thoughts are transient. I am there to notice the presence or absence of thoughts.
      • Is this Awareness something that can be seen/experienced by you? Else it becomes drsya (another seen object). The final dṛk will never be available to be seen as an object. Because final dṛk is formless. And trying to experience/see dṛk is to give it a form.
      • Knowing dṛk is formless, can you conclude it’s not there? No. Because your conclusion is another drsya – which is seen by you, dṛk.
      • The only thing that doesn’t need your sense organs and mind to be seen, is “I am”. It is self-revealing. If ask you “Are you present”? You don’t need to use sense-organs, nor calculations.
        • This is opposite to French philosopher Descartes who said “I think, therefore I am”. Vedanta says “I am, therefore there is thinking”.
  • 3 STATES ANALYSIS: What about in deep sleep?
    • One says “I slept well”. Statement shows “I” (dṛk in reference to absence-of-mind) was present.
    • In Waking, “I am” is there, connected to mind-body. In Dream, “I am” is there, connected to mind. In Sleep, “I am” is there, connected to nothing.
  • What is nature of mistake?
    • The nature of seer (dṛk) is imputed onto seen (body-mind); thereby becoming limited/mortal, because body is mortal, thus my “I” becomes mortal.
    • In reality, I am because of which different conditions of mind are seen. I am presence because of which the availability or non-availability of thoughts are known.
    • From standpoint of world, sense organs are seer. From standpoint of sense organs, mind is seer. Mind experienced because of consciousness (Dṛk); my real “I”.
    • The sense organs & mind are both in included in Drsya title of text. And Drk in title refers to Consciousness.
  • NEXT VERSE: Logic how dṛk is free from dṛśya


Course was based on [1] Drig Drishya Viveka book by Swami Tejomayananda [2] Book by Swami Nikhilananda [3] Neema Majmudar.

Recorded 16 Jan, 2024

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