Self-enquiry – Vichara Sangraham (16)
How do egoity, soul, self, and Brahman come to be identified?
|2||The heated iron-ball||The soul which appears as a superimposition on the Self|
|3||The fire that is in the heated iron-ball||The light of consciousness, i.e., the immutable Brahman which shines in the soul in everybody|
|4||The flame of fire which remains as one||The all-pervading Brahman which remains as one|
From the examples given above, it will be clear how egoity, soul, witness, and All-witness come to be identified.
Just as in the wax-lump that is with the smith (metal worker), numerous and varied metal-particles lie included and all of them appear to be one wax-lump, so also in deep sleep the gross and subtle bodies of all the individual souls are included in the cosmic maya which is nescience (ignorance) of the nature of sheer darkness; and since the souls are resolved in the Self becoming one with it, they see everywhere darkness alone.
From the darkness of sleep, the subtle body, viz. egoity, and from that egoity, the gross body arise respectively. Even as the egoity arises, it appears superimposed on the nature of the Self, like the heated iron-ball.
Thus, without the soul (jiva) which is the mind or egoity that is conjoined with the Consciousness-light, there is no witness of the soul, viz. the Self, and without the Self there is no Brahman that is the All-witness.
Just as when the iron ball is beaten into various shapes by the smith (metal worker), the fire that is in it does not change thereby in any manner, even so the soul may be involved in ever so many experiences and undergo pleasures and pains, and yet the Self-light that is in it does not change in the least thereby.
And like the ether, it is the all-pervasive pure knowledge that is one, and it shines in the heart as Brahman.
Self-enquiry – Vichara Sangraham is the first set of teachings that Ramana Maharshi ever offered. It was offered at about 1901, when he was a young man of about twenty-two. He was already a Jnani (Sage) in perfect Realization of the Self, in the resplendent bliss of Divine Knowledge. At that time he was living in Virupaksha Cave on the hill of Arunachala.
A number of disciples had already gathered round him. Although he had not actually taken a vow of silence, he seldom spoke, and so wrote his replies to certain questions put to him by Sri Gambhiram Seshayya, one of the earliest devotees. Sri Seshayya copied them in his diary. After his passing away, this diary was obtained from his brother. This was edited by Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai and was later put into Question-Answer form by Sri Natanananda. It was published under the name of Vichara Sangraham, or Self-Enquiry.