What is ‘Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithya’?

Brahma Satyam Jagat Mithya

Advaita Explains the Trio

Advaita Vedanta exhorts that the tripod of Jeev, Jagat and Ishwara are apparently different. Underlying these three entities there is only One reality, a single unity.

It states: “Brahma Satyam, Jagat Mithya, Jeeva Brahmaiva Na Param”
(ब्रह्म सत्यं जगन्मिथ्या जीवब्रह्मैवनापरम).

This literally means that Brahman alone is real. The entire Universe is simply an appearance of Brahman. It further affirms that because we individuals are missing a single reality, the world appears apart from us.

It is like this. We are mistaking the appearance of the rope for a snake. One is falsely “seeing” the snake in a rope. Although, both the snake and the rope have their individual reality, but mistaking the snake for a rope negates the reality. The experience is completely false, based on falsity. The Upanishads point to this reality.

What does Tvam Tatvamasi mean?

The famous statement of the Chandogya Upanishad:
“Tvam Tattva Masi”
(त्वं तत्वमसि),

This statement literally means ‘I am that’. It represents the Jeev’s essential nature. The Jeev is nothing put unsullied Brahman. However, since there is an error in understanding this Reality, the Jeev appears as limited and curtailed.

It seems not to possess the magnanimity of Brahman. Brahman is the One all-pervading reality, boundless by its very nature. The statements of the Upanishads sound too radical.

One may ask: ‘How can multiplicity be denied?’

Advaita Vedanta does not deny the multiplicity in experience. However, it makes a clear demarcation between Reality and Experience. It exhorts, what “appears” is not real. What is Real, never appears. Advaita Vedanta claims that Brahman cannot separate things through space and time. However, Dwaita Vedanta talks about a spiritual abode. It describes the experience of a Jeeva in the spiritual abode, where he shall exist with Vishnu, at the onset of liberation. But, Advaita Vedanta does not delay the experience of Brahman. It is in the here and now without dependence on space and time, for realizing Brahman. Unlike Dwaita Vedanta, Advaita Vedanta does not depend on Grace and blessings of Vishnu. It does not claim a gift at the end of the journey. Rather it promises the gift here and now, through application of intelligence.

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Journey from Ignorance to Knowledge

Advaita Vedanta does not talk about the distance between God and Jeev. It focuses only on the Reality of Brahman.

Advaita Vedanta is not a journey from a present time to a future time. It does not talk of a journey from Earth to Vaikuntha. In fact, it is simply a shift in understanding, from ignorance to knowledge; a journey not in place and time as some of the schools of Bhakti preach.

In Advaita Vedanta, the statement: “I do not know” represents ignorance or Avidya. Avidya is the power of Maya that clouds Knowledge or Brahman. Clouded Brahman is itself Maya.

The methodology of Dwaita Vedanta is Bhakti while the methodology of Advaita Vedanta is Vichara or investigation. In the process of investigation, the eyes engage in the act of seeing things outside. But, sense as in this case, the eyes can witness something only when the mind pursues to see. If the mind is willing, the act of seeing is immediately carried by the senses, as seen by the eyes.

Mind Forces Experience

When we experience joy or sadness, we observe that the mind is affected by these emotions. Now the witnessing element of the mind, is in reality the “I”, the original awareness, Brahman. When we practice enough towards getting to the source or witness, we slowly get established in the source. This source or awareness, is the goal of Advaita Vedanta. The more we get established in this source through the process of Vichara (or investigation) the turbulence of the mind, gets arrested. As a result, pure consciousness is reflected on the mind.

One needs to find out the relationship between “You” the consciousness and the universe that appears to “You”. The answer to this question is that: ‘The multiplicity of the universe with all its variety appears in “You”, the consciousness’. This seems esoteric but can be understood by our experience in a dream. Just like, in a dream, one experiences within oneself, one’s own body, other characters and a whole world, the world and its multiplicity has its reality within and not anywhere external.

Reality- A Larger Dream

But the fact remains that all this is in the dream-consciousness within us. This includes the space, time and activities within the dream. Once we wake up from the dream, we observe that both the subject and the objects were nothing but a dream. It was a creation that appeared in one’s own consciousness. Similarly, in the conscious state, by the Power of Maya, that one Brahman appears as other objects, time, place, circumstance and the enormity of variety. In other words, what we perceive to be reality while we are awake is a larger dream, governed by Maya. Our entire waking world, or dreaming world is a manipulation of that one consciousness that appears as variety.

We the “One” witness is at the source of all the variety. Without that one source, the world shall not be. This is the fundamental concept of Advaita Vedanta.

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