DESTRUCTION OF VASANA (latent impressions, habitual tendencies, strong desires)

[Shri Shankaracharya Vaaksudha (1947), chapter 6, translated in 2017 by the Guru Dev Legacy Trust] 

[At Itawa once a pandit came and asked - “Bhagvan! Shruti (the four Vedas) says ‘Tyagenaiken tattvamanashuhu’ ‘By renunciation immortality is attained’ [Kaivalya Upanishad 1:2]. I am in doubt that if everything is abandoned as being different from the Self and yet tattva (essence of reality, truth) is not seen (realized), therefore how is this Shruti meaningful?” Shri Charan (Guru Dev) explained him in this way.] 

Although all worldly objects are always different from Atma, Jiva (the individual soul) believes he owns some of them and becomes attached to them. He feels delight in conserving and enhancing them, and distress when they are lost. On the other hand, for those things which he believes are not in his possession, he stays constantly pure from them - neither feels delight in the enhancement nor feels distress in the loss of those things. It is the sense of possessiveness that brings mundane happiness and sadness.  

From this Mamatva - Sutra (bond of attachment) or Kalpit – Svatva – Sutra (imaginary bond of possession) Jiva builds his relationship with other things. He remains attached to other things by Sambandha Sutra (bond of relationship) even when he is physically apart from them. This attachment leads to vasana (habitual tendencies, strong desires). Mired in things of the world, Jiva is separated from his own real nature – the Atma tattva. 

This Shruti teaches us to abandon the illusion of ownership. By giving up the sense of ownership, Jiva can achieve the tattva. This is the meaning of this sentence from the Shruti. One must give up one’s imaginary possession on things. 

The attachment to things of the world arises from good and evil vasana in the core of the heart. Giving up of attachment is not possible until vasana is minimized. Give up means to give up vasana, the root cause of worldly behavior. Jiva can experience the Atma Tattva only when his vasana subsides. This is the meaning of this Shruti.  

The same thing is written in Muktika Upanishad, where it is said:  

Tasmadvasnaya yuktm mano vaddham vidurbuddhah | 

Samyagvasnaya tyaktm muktamityavidhiyate ||  

[Muktika Upanishad 2:2:16] 

This means – When a Jiva’s mind is filled with vasana from ignorance, he is snared in bondage. Only by giving up complete vasana does one become free. The destruction of vasana is the means of moksha (liberation). 

In a mind freed from vasana the real nature sat-chit-ananda of Paramatma tattva is clearly visible, just as the image of sun is clearly reflected in still water. And then Jiva, absorbed with bliss, experiences the joy of jivan - mukti (liberation in present life). 

And it is written – ‘shitostna sukhadukheshu samha sangavibarjitah.’ [Gita 12:18] This means that one must be neutral in all circumstances -- such as hot, cold, sorrow, joy - and stay detached from materialistic world. All these symptoms happen naturally in the realized man. 

A jivanmukt man (liberated being) has equanimity, having undergone the results of prarabdha karma (actual karma). He becomes free from rebirth and merges in Parambrahma, just as space within a water pot merges with the great space outside when the pot breaks. 

Na tasya pranaha utkamanti atraiva samaviliyante | 

[Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4:4:6] 

This means – when the jivanmukt Mahatma abandons his body, the Atma goes nowhere, but merges with the vishva Atma (cosmic soul). His nature merges with unbounded nature. This comes from the abandonment of vasana. For this man should always strive. This is purushartha (ultimate goal of human life).    




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