3 – Drg Drsya Viveka (2-5): What is Consciousness? How to Discriminate Seer & Seen?


Lecture 3 explains what is nature of Consciousness? How do we define that which is not within time & space and formless? Qualities of mind we mistake as “I”.

Source: Drg Drsya Viveka

VERSE 2: Level 1: Relationship between Sense Organs and World Objects

नील-पीत-स्थूल-सूक्ष्म-ह्रस्व-दीर्घ-आदि-भेदतः। नाना-विधानि रूपाणि पश्येत् लोचनम्-एकधा ॥ २॥
nīla-pīta-sthūla-sūkṣma-hrasva-dīrgha-ādi-bhedataḥ। nānā-vidhāni rūpāṇi paśyet locanam-ekadhā ॥ 2॥
The forms are many and varied on account of differences like blue, yellow, gross, subtle, short, long, etc. The eye remaining the same sees (them) all.

[COMMENTARY: Verse 2 elaborates on the first quarter of verse 1 which stated “rūpaṃ dṛśyaṃ locanaṃ dṛk” (form is seen, eyes are seer).  It highlights the plurality and variety in the seen objects (dṛśya) versus the singularity of the seeing eye (dṛk). This establishes that there is plurality in the seen and non-duality in the seer (eye). The same principle will be extended later to consciousness (sākṣī).]

  • nīla-pīta-sthūla-sūkṣma-hrasva-dīrghādi-bhedataḥ:
    • Your eye which is dṛk in reference to seen forms (dṛśya), such as sthūla (big like mountain) and sūkṣma (small like insect), whenever eye sees different colors, does it take the color of what it sees? Does the eye become blue when it sees blue? Does it become big/small when it sees it? No.
    • All characteristics belong to forms; while eye (dṛk) is free from form characteristics. Therefore whatever characteristic of dṛśya, the dṛk never takes on any.
  • Nānāvidhāni rūpāṇi paśyet locanam-ekadhā: Forms are many, but one pair of eyes that sees the many, is one.
  • NEXT VERSE: Same logic is applied between eyes and mind.

VERSE 3: Level 2: Relationship between Mind & Sense Organs

आन्ध्य-मान्द्य-पटुत्वेषु नेत्र-धर्मेषु च एकधा । सङ्कल्पयेत् मनः श्रोत्र-त्वक्-आदौ योज्यताम् इदम् ॥ ३॥
āndhya-māndya-paṭutveṣu netra-dharmeṣu ca ekadhā । saṅkalpayet manaḥ śrotra-tvak-ādau yojyatām idam ॥ 3॥
The mind, remaining the same, knows the different characteristics of the eye such as blindness, dullness and sharpness. This also applies in case of ears, skin etc.

[COMMENARY: Verse 3 elaborates on the second quarter of verse 1 – “tatdṛśyam dṛktu mānasam” (the eyes themselves are seen, the mind is the seer). It discusses how the mind (dṛk) perceives the conditions of the sense organs (dṛśyam or seen). Conditions of sense organs are perceived by the mind – the mind knows when there is blindness, vagueness, or clear vision in the eyes. Conditions of the sense organs are variable and many, the perceiving mind remains one and unchanged.]

  • Now characteristics of eyes are seen by the mind. Such as complete blindness, reduced power, or bright eyes. When eyes are bright, is the mind bright? No. When eyes are blind, is the mind blind? No. Without mind, can’t see different characteristics of eyes, while remaining free of eye characteristics.
  • Śrotra-tvak-ādau yojatām-idam: This logic not only applies to eyes, but ears also (EG: poor hearing/good hearing doesn’t affect the mind). When taste something sour, does every thought in your mind take on sour-ness? No.
  • NEXT VERSE: When you have mind, you’ll have various characteristics of the mind, because it’s programmed to feel things like…

VERSE 4: Level 3: Relationship between Witness & Mind

कामः सङ्कल्प-सन्देहौ श्रद्धा-अश्रद्धे धृति-इतरे । ह्रीः-धीः-भीः इति एवम् आदीन् भासयति एकधा चितिः ॥ ४॥
kāmaḥ saṅkalpa-sandehau śraddhā-aśraddhe dhṛti-itare । hrīḥ-dhīḥ-bhīḥ iti evam ādīn bhāsayati ekadhā citiḥ ॥ 4॥
Consciousness remaining the same, illumines the thoughts of desire, willingness, doubt, belief, disbelief, fortitude, and its lack thereof, modesty, understanding, fear and such others.

[COMMENARY: Verse 4 elaborates on the third quarter of verse 1 – “dhīvṛttayaḥ sākṣī dṛk” (mental modifications are seen, consciousness is the seer). It discusses how consciousness (sākṣī) illumines the various conditions and modifications of the mind. Consciousness spreads all over the mind and reveals its conditions, like a light illumines objects in a room. Unlike the sense organs and mind which can be both seer and seen, consciousness is only ever the seer (dṛk), never the seen. One should not attempt to objectify or experience consciousness. It is the eternal subject, never an object of experience.]

    • Kāma: Pseudo advice says “Get rid of desires”. Vedanta has no problem as can’t eliminate it. Child has desire to walk. You have desire for freedom (moksha). Desire for creativity. Desire itself is neither good/bad, as it’s capacity of mind. However quality of desire can be beneficial or hindering.
    • Saṅkalpa: Neither good/bad. Depends what your resolve is. If resolve is “I am going to take initiative, take charge of my emotions”, then it’s useful. If resolve is “No matter what happens, I want this promotion, and I’ll get it at any cost”, and you bypass dharma, then that resolve is afflicting, because it’ll generate conflict in future. So goal is moving mind from afflicting resolve to beneficial resolve.
    • Sandeha: Good/bad? Depends. If doubt is regarding whether you have clarity about “I”, or doubting whether your spouse is loyal; then becomes controlling.
    • Śraddhā-aśraddhā:
      • Shraddha:
        • Capacity to have conviction, to say “Let me pursue this”. Suppose you go to physics class, and in first lesson, before it starts, you demand from teacher “Prove to me this is true!”. Thus have to be exposed to the knowledge for a while. Without it, you’ll say “There could be another discipline that’s more right then yours!”; in which case one remains eternal seeker. Every subject matter deserves to be given a chance. 
        • Shraddha is keeping mind open, but not stopping to question and use logic. We use it all the time in real life; EG:
        • Blind faith: Takes questioning/critical-analysis out; accepts anything.
      • Ashraddha: Can’t trust anyone.
    • Hrīḥ: Neither good/bad; depends. Positive when sensitive not to disturb unfamiliar environment. Negative when ashamed of oneself.
    • Dhīḥ: Capacity to understand. Cognition; can be simple as 2+2, or black-holes. Can apply it to any discipline (EG: Medicine; even if learn 8 years; still know miniscule).
  • CONCLUSION: These are all, bhāsayati ekadhā citiḥ (modifying in presence of Consciousness).
    • Humanity is making mistaking in taking mind as “I”. If “I” becomes the mind, then since mind doesn’t always have perfect thoughts and knowledge, “I” will have self-esteem issues.  Good news is, mind itself is dṛśya (seen by you), and you are cit (Consciousness) in reference to the mind. Meaning cit is not in any way connected, affected, nor defined by the characteristics of the mind.
    • Suppose Awareness was affected by changing nature of mind; then every emotion in last 1 year would’ve stuck to you. And yet, right now, you find yourself totally free from all emotions experienced in last 1 year. Meaning Awareness has not taken on attributes of any emotion/thought. The present moment is the proof.
      • Therefore, freedom comes because I am free. It doesn’t come because you have successfully manipulated your mind, and lengthened the manipulation.
  • NEXT VERSE: I have discovered I am Awareness, but what is Awareness? 

Revision of Verse 1-4:

  • Whatever characteristics of forms, don’t stick to eyes. Then eye become seen (drsya) and mind becomes seer (drk). Health of eyes/ears undergo change, while the mind cognizes the changes and is unaffected by them.
    • Most of world stops at mind being ultimate seer. In fact material science puts brain at ultimate seer; thinking mind is product of brain neurons firing.
    • If “I” is in the mind, then there is strong urge to be free, which is done by manipulating mind so “I” can feel free. Or we manipulate the mind (“I”) to make it perfect.
    • If you were good as the mind, then wouldn’t be able to see me, because you would be loaded by all previous perceptions you’ve had. Therefore I am Awareness because of which different conditions of mind are known.
    • Technical way of explaining:
      • STEP 1: Point out 2 ways how you come to know anything:
        • Indriya-pratyaksha (sense perception): Knowledge gained by 5 sense organs. EG: To see rose, need to use eyes.
        • Sakshi-pratyaksha (witness perception): Mind that objectifies 5 sense organs (such as short/long sightedness) and mental states.
      • STEP 2: Once shown, explain, their changes can only be identified against a non-changing presence.
        • Experience at both levels are objectified in reference to something that’s not changing (Awareness). If you were good as the thought, you would disappear when thought disappears.

VERSE 5: Description of Consciousness

न उदेति न अस्तम् एति एषा न वृद्धिं याति न क्षयम् । स्वयं विभाति अथ अन्यानि भासयेत् साधनं विना ॥ ५॥
na udeti na astam eti eṣā na vṛddhiṃ yāti na kṣayam । svayaṃ vibhāti atha anyāni bhāsayet sādhanaṃ vinā ॥ 5॥
This (Consciousness) does not rise (is unborn) and does not set (is immortal). It does not increase or decay (is immutable). It shines by Itself and It illumines others without any aid.

[COMMENARY: Science talks about origin of reflected consciousness (cidabhasa) when matter evolves in a certain form. But consciousness (sakshi) is eternal, without beginning or end.  It has no dimension or size. It is not confined to any particular location. Consciousness illumines everything but is not illumined by anything else. We need not make any special effort to experience sākṣī, because it is ever-experiencer and self-revealing.  Sākṣī effortlessly illumines the mind by its mere existence.]

  • na udeti:
    • Meaning 1:
      • Awareness is never born, hence no point can it ever end.
      • If you think you’re the body, then you have a birth-date and death-date.
    • Meaning 2:
      • You will never start being aware at some point in future.
  • na astam eti eṣā:
    • When body drops/moves, Awareness does not drop/move. Only seems to drop/move, due to intimate relationship with sense organs & mind.


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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