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What are the Granthis?

 

CHAPTER IX

 

14-8-1917

 

Kavyakantha: What are the granthis
and how are they cut off, as referred to in the famous
line:

 

 

bhidyate hrdayagnanthish-chhidyante
sarvasamshayaah

kshiiyante chaasya karmaani tasmin
drshte paraavare 8.

 

When a person realises Him in both
the high and the low,

the knots of the heart are loosened,
his doubts dispelled and his karmas exhausted. —
Mundakopanishad, II.2.8

 

This has been the subject of doubt
with several bhaktas. Will Maharshi please enlighten us on
this matter?

 

Maharshi: Granthi is a knot. The
knot of the heart ties two things together: the Supreme
Brahman or Atma, and the appearance also of the jiva
connected with a body. The location or contact between the
body and Brahman is styled as the granthi or knot. It is by
reason of that relation (or knot) that one gets the idea of
a body, and the idea that he has or is a body. The body
itself is inert, but Brahman is of the nature of
Consciousness. The relation between these two is inferred by
the intellect.

 

When the body is active in the
waking and dreaming states, it is so by reason of its being
overshadowed or covered by the image or reflection of the
pure Chaitanya, i.e., Brahman. When, however, one is asleep,
or for other reasons inactive and unconscious (e.g., in
faint or coma), such image or reflection is absent, and from
this fact the place of the Chaitanya or Brahman in the body
is ascertained or located. It is located in the heart ( ,
hrdayam), into which the soul or ego retreats in deep sleep,
ceasing its conscious activity in all parts of the body.
This heart is connected with a number of nadis (nerves) and
the reflection of the Chaitanya on the heart spreads from
the heart through these nadis or nerves into all parts of
the body. The Chaitanya is subtle like electricity; and just
as electricity, which in its manifest form is seen in
lights, operates through solid material-like electric wires,
so this Chaitanya Jyoti, or light of Brahman, moves from its
subtle form through these nadis or nerves into the entire
human frame. The sun, from its place in the heavens,
illumines the entire solar system; so does Chaitanya Jyoti,
or the light of Brahman, taking its place in the heart,
illumine the entire human frame; and when such Chaitanya
pervades every part of this body, then does the embodied
soul, the jiva, derive all its experiences.

 

There are various powers manifest in
the different nadis or nerves according to the function
performed by each tissue or organ into which they (the
nerves) enter. All such powers, however, are the various
transformations of the one Chaitanya that permeates the
nadis. But there is one nadi called the sushumna which is
specifically the nadi prominently connected with the
manifestation of the Chaitanya itself. It is also termed
Atma-nadi or Amritanadi. When man is operating through the
other nadis alone, he derives the impression that the body
is himself, and that the external world is different from
him, and hence he is filled with abhimanam or dehabhimanam,
i.e., ‘I-am-the-body idea’. When, however, he renounces
these ideas (i.e., that the body is himself and that the
world is different from himself) and expels the abhimanam
(I-am-the-body idea) and enters on the enquiry into the
Self, Atma Vichara, with concentration, then he is said to
be “churning the nerves” (nadimathanam). By such churning,
the butter of the Atma or Self is separated from the nadis
in all parts of the body and the Self shines in the Amrita
or Atma-nadi. Then is the Self or Brahman realised. Then one
perceives nothing but the Atman (Brahman)
everywhere.

 

Such a person may have sense objects
presented to him and yet, even when receiving those
impressions, he will receive them as himself, not as
different from himself, which is the view of the ignorant.
In everything that he sees, the ignorant one perceives form.
The wise one perceives Brahman inside and outside of
everything that he sees. Such a person is said to be a
Bhinna-granthi, i.e., the Knotless. For him the knot which
tied up matter or body with Brahman has been severed. The
term granthi or knot is applied both to the nadi-bandha, or
physical knot in the nerves (something like the ganglia),
and the abhimana or attachment to the body resulting
therefrom. The subtle jiva operates through these knots of
nadis when he perceives gross-matter. When the jiva retreats
from all these nadis and rests in the one nadi, i.e.
Atma-nadi, he is termed the Bhinna-granthi, or the Knotless;
and his illumination results in his achieving
Self-realisation.

 

Let us take the case of a red-hot
piece of iron. Here, what was formerly the cold, black iron
is now seen suffused with and in the form of fire.
Similarly, the one dull, cold and dark jiva, or even his
body, when overpowered by the fire of Atma Vichara
(knowledge of the Self), is perceived to be in the form of
the Atman. When a man reaches that stage, all the vasanas
(tendencies), derived (it may be) from many previous lives
and connected with the body, disappear. The Atma, realising
that it is not the body, realises also the idea that it is
not the agent performing karma or action and that,
consequently, the vasanas or fruits resulting from such
(antecedent) karma do not attach to it (the Atman). As there
is no other substance besides the Atman, no doubts can
trouble that Atman. The Atman that has once burst its knots
asunder can never again be bound. That state is termed by
some Parama Sakti (highest sakti) and by others Parama Santi
(supreme peace).