Self awareness in Sankhya

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    Hare Krishna Prabhu,

    In my meditation journey so far I have reached a state where ‘I’ am basking myself in my own self luminescent light. A thoughtless state where there is just this self luminescence. Now I cant say this is my doing, it’s just there. Just like Sun which is self luminescent.

    What is the terminology in Sankhya for this self luminescence?

    Is this self luminescence part of material nature or an aspect of soul?

    What is the connection between this self luminescence and soul?

    Can you please explain what these are in Sankhya? You could just point me to one of your blog articles where you have explained this previously.

    Thank you Prabhu for your ruminations on Vedic philosophy, which is very important for our upliftment.


    The soul is like a fountain. That fountain is covered by mud right now. If that mud is removed, then the fountain starts spouting water. That spouting water is three things: (1) spontaneous, irresistible, and unstoppable love for God, (2) perfect knowledge of the spiritual and material worlds automatically springing into our consciousness, and (3) the use of this knowledge in spontaneous service, namely, using perfect knowledge of material and spiritual worlds to serve God.

    This spontaneous springing out of love, knowledge, and service is called self-illumination. Why? Because we know ourselves through our work. To work, we need to know what to do, how to do it, where to do it, and when to do it. Knowledge is the answer to four questions–where, when, how, and what. And love is the answer to the one question of why I should do something. When we have answered these five questions–what, why, when, where, and how–then we start serving God with love, and that service will also be perfect, because it is fully in knowledge and in love.

    By that service, we know ourselves, and answer: Who am I? This is the sixth important question, and it cannot be answered without the other five. The answer is: I am the servant of God in this way. My love for Him is in this way. I can do these things, in these ways, at this time, in this place. But unless I combine my knowledge to serve with love, the sixth question cannot be answered, and the self is undefined. I know that I have to do this, in that way, at this time, and at that place, for this reason. But the self is undefined. It is defined only by our service. It is when we combine knowledge and love to serve, then we know ourselves by our work

    So, before we talk about self-awareness, we have to define the self–Who am I? Self-awareness without the other five questions is not possible. The simple question is: What is self-awareness? It is nothing but knowing who I am. If I am a specific type of servant of God, then knowing that I serve God in that specific manner is self-awareness. It is my relation to God and my knowledge of the self. The self is perfectly realized when the soul establishes an irrevocable loving service to God.

    In the West, there is a trend of individualism, namely, I define myself. I say who I am. And I am free to do so. And in Vedic philosophy, the self is always defined in relation to another. Right now, the self is defined in relation to the body, society, nation, job, family, etc. Those are temporary. The eternal definition is who I am in relation to God. I cannot freely define myself to be whatever I want to be. We reject this individualistic idea. In Vedic philosophy, the self is always defined in relation to some other. Who is that other? The answer is that the other is the Supreme Person.

    The trend of individualism exists in Advaita. Just like democracy is of the people, for the people, and by the people, likewise, there is an individualistic philosophy that says: of, by, and for the self. The definition is of the self. It is given by the self. And it is for the self. This self-reflective consciousness has three parts–for (called ananda), of (called chit), and by (called sat). The fact is that you can define yourself to be anything if the only reference for that definition is you. However, that also means that you could be anything, everything, something, and yet you are nothing.

    This self-reflective consciousness is a spiritual self-centeredness. It is quite pleasurable because all the worries are cut-off. The soul feels free of the constraints and that freedom from anxiety is called happiness. It is the state in which the soul feels that it could be anything, it could be everything, it could be something, and yet, it remains as nothing. This state of pure potentiality, without any reality, is called Brahman. That feeling of could be anything, everything, something, and yet being nothing, is a state of pure freedom but also nothing definite. This Brahman is experienced as self-luminescence. You can see yourself, but not as anything definite.

    In the Brahman state, neither of the six questions–what, who, why, how, where, and when–are answered. But it is better than fleeting answers. Hence, Brahman is considered transcendent to the material world, and yet, not the answer to the perennial questions of life, namely, the above-noted six types of questions.

    I don’t know what you are experiencing, and I cannot comment on its causes. But I can say that material nature is sometimes kind to remove Her influence over us, and by that, we can suddenly feel free. There are traditions of Shakta worship that try to evoke Shakti’s mercy on the soul to relieve it from Her influence. If freedom to be anything but nothing well-defined is what we desire, then by suitable practices Shakti can relieve the soul of Her influence, and the soul becomes Brahman.

    I don’t think there is any loss by such an experience–if it is the experience of Brahman. However, the soul is never satisfied by pure potentiality. It always wants to be something rather than the potential to be anything, everything, and yet nothing. That being something is the answer to the question: Who am I? The possibility of being anything, everything, and yet nothing, is not an answer to the question: Who am I? That answer requires the previous process, namely, loving God, acquiring knowledge to serve Him, and serving God to define the self by its work.

    It is the work by the self to get a definition of the self, but the work is for God. Of the self means that I define myself through my work. By the self means that the work that defines me is done by me, out of free will; it is not forced labor; rather, it is loving labor and hence it is free choice by the self. And for God means that the work that defines me, and which I perform out of my free will and love, is done for God. So, there is freedom because I can choose how I want to serve God. It is not bondage into some body and relationship as Advaita calls it. But it is also not radical freedom of being a pure potential but nothing real, as is the case in Advaita.

    A thoughtless state is nothing but a state of pure potentiality. This is not a bad thing. But it is not the perfect thing either. The perfect thing is always thinking about what Krishna likes, thinking of various ways of pleasing Him, and feeling happy by the opportunity to do something for Krishna. This is a thoughtful state. But it is not foolish, ridiculous, or painful thoughts. Nor is it thoughtless.


    Thank you Prabhu.

    Now I got a clarity on what Brahman state is vis a vis Krishna consciousness. Now on I will try to define my self in relation to the Supreme person.

    If you could please shed some light on the following questions that would be very helpful for my spiritual perfection.

    When you say spiritual world does that mean a world outside the higher lokas?

    I do devotional service like chanting, doing nitya pooja, abhishekam and preparing prasad for Krishna. What activities will please Krishna? Can we be in Krishna consciousness in all our activities? How does one do that?

    Hare Krishna Prabhu.

    Day by day after reading your works I keep getting more and more clarity. You are a gift to all of us from Krishna. Thousand Pranaams to you.


    The spiritual world is divided into many parts, depending on different kinds of devotion to God. That detail is not important right now. If we start discussing all the divisions, it will take a long time. Generally, it is called Vaikuntha. Kuntha means foolishness. And Vaikuntha means devoid of foolishness. So, this material world is considered foolishness and beyond this world is considered intelligence.

    The higher lokas in the material world are also temporary. Even Brahma-loka is temporary. So, by the spiritual world, we mean an eternal place. That planet is eternal, all the bodies are eternal (no death or old age), all the relationships are eternal (no fighting and separation), and love is eternal (every day the love increases; every day it gets a little more exciting, and there is never a decrease). In that eternal place, with an eternal body, relationship, and love, there are varieties. They constitute many places of residence for the Lord and His devotees.

    Whatever you are doing is perfect. Keep doing that. Krishna will guide you on how to do more and better. More means quantity and better means quality. So Krishna can guide you on how to improve the quality and increase the quantity. As the quality improves and the quantity increases, everything will slowly become Krishna consciousness. There is no separate method. We have to just increase the quantity and improve the quality. In general, quality is more important than quantity.


    Thank you Prabhu.

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