What is the purpose of vritti? Vritti has two purposes which are related to
(1) sansara, and
(2) spiritual realisation. In sansara, practical achievement is the purpose of vritti – for instance, education, learning, knowing grammar, travelling, acquiring legitimate pleasure and wealth; these are all results of vritti. In the spiritual world, vritti has a great object, release, the total abolition of all limitations. Both bondage and liberation are created by vritti.
It is a philosophical truism that the negation of the superimposed (adhyasa) is the substratum (adhishtana). Negation of the imaginary superimposed entity is adhishtana or the substratum. Negation of the snake, which is superimposed by ignorance on the rope, is the rope. The implication is that sansara – names and forms, states, anything which is passing, time, space, causation, extension, magnitude and all the nine categories of Aristotle, they are all sansara – is superimposed phenomenally on Consciousness or Brahman. Brahman is the negation of them. How? By knowing them to be illusory. Go on knowing them to be illusory until the rise of the vritti “I am Brahman” when they will reveal themselves to be illusory. Negation of Brahman is sansara: negation of sansara is Brahman. Negation of light is darkness, negation of darkness is light. How do we negate sansara? By jnana. How is jnana born? By contemplation, by invoking the grace of the Lord, by making right efforts through shravana, manana and nididhyasana.
This is a verse from the “Mahabharata”: Shri Bhishma is speaking to the Pandavas who are gathered round him for the last upadesha. “Thy Self is the holy river. Meditation on it is the highest good …” (“On it” means on its nature, on Sat-Chit-Ananda: “I am Sat, I am Chit, I am Ananda. I am That in spite of appearances to the contrary”.) “… Satya (truth) is the water in that river …” (A river has water. What is the water in this river of Atman? It is Truth. In the ordinary practice of the world they have no recourse to duplicity; there is no fictitiousness of any kind attached to their life. They speak the truth, they think the truth, they are devoted to truth). “… Good conduct constitutes the two banks of that river …” (The conduct which promotes the good of all, which ignores the individual selfish good, this constitutes the two banks of the river. Are there any little waves in it? Yes.) … The waves are dava (compassion). O sons of Pandu. take a bath in this holy river. By ordinary water the inner Atman is not purified…” (You will say: “Does not the sprinkling of water in baptism do this?” What a sad delusion this is; indeed there is no warrant in any of the Scriptures for this practice). “… but in this wav thy Atman is purified”. OM
What is bhrama? Bhrama means delusion. By bhrama, the rope appears to be a snake. How can it be defined? “Belief in the truth of the empirical state” is delusion. Bhrama is the root of all suffering. The empirical states like youth, like the waking condition or the dreaming condition (avasthas), to think that they are real is the greatest bhrama or delusion. “I am happy”, “I am suffering”, “I have got a son”, “I have won a horse in the race” – all this is bhrama, delusion. Bhrama is a perverted vritti and sansara, the empirical world which is constantly changing, is the bondage caused by the perverted vritti. Sansara is not created by any God; it is created by the vritti. How can it be undone? It is the source of endless troubles. Who is happy in it? The great Sultan, Abdul Rahman III of Spain ruled for 60 years in the 10th Century. When he was asked how many years of happiness he had enjoyed in his long life, he replied: “Not three hours and perhaps not even three minutes of perfect happiness!”
Is there a way out? By shravana of the Vedantic sentences “Tat tvam asi” (“Chandogya Upanishad” 6.8.7), “Aham Brahmasmi” (“Brihadaranyaka Upanishad” 1.4.10), “Prajnanam Brahman” (“Aitareya Upanishad” 3.1.3) and “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahman” (“Chandogya Upanishad” 3.14.1), and their explanation in a state of peace and goodwill to all, when your heart is perfectly attuned to it, then is born the counter-vritti “I am Brahman”. When this vritti is born in your antahkarana, then ajnana or ignorance is abolished and also its effect, sansara. This state is called moksha or release.
Before the holy sage Bhishma became silent for ever, lying for a few months on the bed of arrows from sunrise to sunset, he went on teaching the people who were around him. In the end, when he wanted to leave his body, he said: “Where is Govinda? O Vasudeva, come and let my last breath expire while looking at Thy face”. He said: “O my children, Kauravas and Pandavas, I tell you that which is highest, of greatest merit, the most excellent behaviour and conduct in the world. What is it? Neither by greed, nor for the sake of sense-pleasure, nor from fear, give up the performance of righteousness or dharma”. Do not make a compromise with truth. Never make a compromise with “Shivoham” however dark things look. If the mind paints pictures of a dark labyrinth in which, it says, the soul will be imprisoned, then rise, as Rama Tirtha says, like a great wave of “Shivoham”. Say: “Chidananda rupah, Shivoham, Shivoham”. OM.