621 In the course of life the sage, who has transcended all the yogas, being established in the supreme state, may live like a yogi, or even like a bhogi, but that yoga and that bhoga are not real.
‘Bhoga’ means enjoyment, and a bhogi is one, such as a householder, who lives for enjoyment. Some sages, like Ribhu, have been without any ashrama, which is a particular, prescribed mode of life. Such a one is called an atiasrami. The next topic concerns the pair of opposites, bondage and freedom.
622 The pair of bondage and freedom, which are spoken of in the course of instruction to disciples, does not really exist. Since it is settled that all pairs of opposites are unreal, how can this pair be real?
623 The real Self is ever free. The bound one is only the soul, the consequence of ignorance. Therefore, in truth, there is no deliverance. The thought of deliverance is due only to the belief in bondage.
How to verify this unreality?
624 ‘If one makes the quest, “Who is he for whom there is bondage?”, at the end of the quest the ever-free Self will be experienced.’ This is what the most holy one [Sri Ramana] has said.
625 Since the non-becoming of the supreme reality has been made clear by both revelation and the sages, and since it is that reality which is the real Self, how can it be said that that one became bound?
Whoever does not accept the perfect supremacy of the reality is unfit to be a disciple. He disqualifies himself by not accepting this as true.
626 If bondage were real, it would be without end. Also, having a beginning, deliverance would have an end. Thus, the unreality of bondage is irresistible.
It is an axiom of advaita Vedanta that whatever is real has neither beginning nor an end, and that what has a beginning must have an end, and is therefore unreal, as set forth already.
627 We do not hear from the sage the saying, ‘I was bound before but now I am free’. That supreme state is beyond time. How can its beginning be imagined?
What Bhagavan did say is next recorded.
628 Bhagavan, when asked, ‘When did your holiness attain deliverance?’, replied, ‘Nothing has happened to me. I am the same always, unchanged.’
To make this teaching intelligible Bhagavan used the following two similes.
629 This talk of deliverance is just like the singing, by dwellers in Pandharpur, of songs to the effect, ‘When shall we go to that place?’ and finally singing, ‘We have reached that place’.
630 ‘Just as someone in his dream, after wandering abroad and returning home, goes to sleep there and, waking, finds himself in his own home, so is deliverance.’ This is what our Guru has said.
So, deliverance is only a change in the understanding, as shown below.
631 Deliverance is just the clarification of the mind, the understanding: ‘I am ever in my own real nature; all other experiences are illusory.’ It is not something that has newly come about.
Another very notable feature of the sage’s being is next taken up.
632 The eternal greatness of the sage consists in this: that he neither waxes nor wanes by actions done or not done. For him there will never accrue any result from actions, whether unpleasant or pleasant.
This is a necessary corollary from the teaching that the sage, being only the real Self, is egoless, and therefore not an actor, but at the most only a witness, or not even a witness.
Some sectarians identify the real Self with the sheath of the intellect, the vijnanamaya kosha. But they are not advaitins.
Pandharpur is a famous Krishna temple in Maharashtra. The verse refers to a song and ritual that is performed by devotees of this shrine. Bhagavan referred to it in the following exchange, which is taken from Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, letter 82, dated 27th January 1947:
Question: Where can we see the soul? How can we know it?
Bhagavan: Where can we see the soul? This question is like staying in Ramanasramam and asking ‘Where is Ramanasramam?’ The soul is at all times in you and everywhere, and to imagine that it is somewhere far off and to search for it is like performing Panduranga bhajan. This bhajan commences in the first quarter of the night with tinkling bells tied to the feet of the devotees, and with a brass lamp-stand placed in the centre of the house. The devotees go round and round the lamp-stand, dancing rhythmically to the tune, ‘Pandharpur is thus far! Pandharpur is thus far! Come on, proceed!’, but as they go round and round, they actually do not proceed even half a yard further. By the time the third quarter of the night is reached, they will begin to sing, ‘See! See! There is Pandharpur! Here is Pandharpur! See, See!’
During the first quarter of the night they were going round the same lamp as they were in the third quarter. It dawns and they sing, ‘We have arrived in Pandharpur. This is Pandharpur.’ So saying, they salute the lamp-stand and end the bhajan. It is the same with this also. We go round and round in search of Atma, saying, ‘Where is Atma? Where is Atma?’ till at last the dawn of jnana drishti [the vision of knowledge] is reached and we say, ‘This is Atma. This is me.’
This is explained further by Bhagavan himself.
633 Just as one engaged in listening to a story does not really hear it, on account of his mind having wandered far away, so the sage, though apparently doing actions, is not really an actor with a mind full of previous habitual modes of functioning.
It has been shown before that the mind is just a bundle of habits of activity, which means that when those habits have been extinguished, it ceases to bind. The actions of the sage are not due to his personal will, as will be shown later.
But the condition of one whose mental vasanas are active is different, as shown below.
634 But the ignorant man, because his mind is subject to vasanas, becomes an actor, even without actively doing any action, just as a man in his dream may fall from the cliff of a mountain, though his body is lying motionless in his bed.
The fact is, the mind is the real agent in action, not the body, which by itself is inert and actionless.
The following is from the Vasishtam:
635 Action is not what is done by the body alone. That alone is action which is done by the mind. The body, being insentient, cannot be an actor. The mind being sentient, can be an actor.
636 ‘Whatever the body, the senses, life and the mind do by the force of prarabdha karma, the sage is not affected by it.’ So said Bhagavan, our Guru.
This is further sustained by comparison of the sage with God in his personal aspect.
637 God is unaffected by his activities of creation, protection, etc. In just the same way the sage remains unaffected by his actions, since, from the standpoint of the truth, there is no real difference between them [God and the sage].
It is taught that God is not Himself the doer of all that work, the work being done in His presence by His power, called maya, as said before.
638 He appears to the ignorant as acting – eating, walking, talking and remembering – but in truth he is neither an actor nor a recipient of the fruits of action, because all his activity is entirely subject to God.
The following is what Bhagavan says on this topic.
639 If the Self were the actor, then the sage would receive the fruits of action. But when, by the quest of the real Self, the sense of doership is lost, at the same time all the three kinds of karma will be lost. Understand that this deliverance is eternal.
The following also was said by Bhagavan.
640 Just as a sleepy child eats the food given by his mother, but does not know it is eating, in the same way the sage receives the fruits of actions, without being an enjoyer or sufferer.
But that is not all.
641 In truth, no one is performing actions. The difference between the knower and the non-knower of the Self is only this: the ignorant man believes himself to be the performer of actions, but to the sage the thought of being an actor does not arise at all.
Here is an incidental problem, due to a difference of views.
642 The saying, ‘The agami karma and sanchita karma are lost for the sage, so he is not reborn again; but the prarabdha karma remains over’ is not true from the standpoint of the supreme truth.
This Bhagavan illustrates with a simile from life.
643 Just as, when a husband dies, none of his wives remain unwidowed, so when the actor [the ego] dies, no actions remain over, which would yield result [to the sage].
Another simile is also available.
644 Just as actions done in dream do not survive on waking, so actions done during the prevalence of ignorance do not survive when the true nature of the Self is experienced.
When ignorance dies, all its products also cease to be.
But the survival of prarabdha karma is stated in the vedantic lore. The answer to this is given.