On Raman Maharshi: No descriptions or sequences really apply to the Truth

Acharya Prashant
7 min readOct 2, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

“From the Self there arise in succession:

(i) Chidabhasa (reflected consciousness), which is a kind of luminosity.

(ii) Jiva (the individual consciousness) or the seer or the first concept.

(iii) Phenomena, that is the world.”

~ Sri Raman Maharshi

Question: How do the knower, known, and knowledge that are absent in deep sleep, arise in the waking state and in the dreaming state. After all, they don’t really exist. From where do they come? This triad of Gyaan-Gyaata-Gyeya (Knowledge-Knower-Known), from where do they come?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Ramana Maharshi says, “They come in a succession.” What’s a succession? First of all, comes the Chidabhasa, which is reflected consciousness. Maharshi calls it a kind of luminosity. Secondly, the Jiva, the individual consciousness, which is the seer or the first concept; the one that stands at the center of all perception, all illusion. Then, phenomena, which is the world.

It’s a sequence that is being described here.

How does it happen that from nothingness, so much suddenly appears? You were in deep sleep, and there was absolutely nothing. And then you find that you are there, and the entire world is there. How does it happen? Maharshi is putting that in words, giving some kind of a sequential framework.

Then the second statement from Maharshi is:

“Just as the lamp illumines the lens, etc., while remaining unaffected, the Self illumines the ego (Chidabhasa), etc., while itself remaining unaffected.”

Question: Acharya Ji, when we are presented with various descriptions about Self, and how from Self everything springs up, the typical tendency of the mind is to create a mental concept about the Self — which is not in one’s own experience —…