The sun watches the world silently

By Brahmacharini Sharanya Chaitanya| Published: 19th August 2018 05:00 AM

One of the many names of the sun are Loka Sakshi or Jagat Sakshi. ‘Loka’ means the world that appears before us and ‘Jagat’ means that which moves. All this is about the world. ‘Sakshi’ means that which is seen from the centre, or rather without taking any sides, but just seeing—as is the nature of consciousness.
After giving the example of a seemingly running moon, when seen through swiftly drifting clouds, Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the Atma Bodha moves to another example, this time of the sun. He says the five sense organs of action and the five sense organs of perception in the physical body; the mind that is just a layer behind the sense organs and works on feedback from the world outside through the senses; the intellect that decides, judges, discriminates, segregates and understands through its ability to feel are ever doing their own individual actions.

Earlier in a beautiful index-like book called the Tatwa Bodha, Sankaracharya describes the function of the body, which is an abode for enjoyment. The different functions of the sense organs of seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing, feeling, grasping, walking, talking, throwing out and reproducing; the function of the mind to entertain many choices in its thoughts; and the ability of the intellect to finally make a decision on this or that. Each of these units in the physical, mental, emotional and the intellectual system do their work, not on their own but powered by the consciousness of the self.

In modern day understanding, the consciousness which is the very nature of life, which is you and me, is like electricity. The mobile phone or the battery-operated car may be a sophisticated equipment; yet on their own, they do not have the power to function. They must be powered with electrical impulses from the battery to even switch themselves on.

In the same way, the senses, mind and the intellect are highly sensitive and supremely capable instruments of knowledge, feeling and action created by nature. They are, however, of no consequence unless they are powered by the energy called the atma chaitanya. A simile Sankaracharya gives us is the sun that just peeps through the clouds at dawn. So much of activity happens on earth by its mere presence—flowers bloom, shoots emerge, grass grows, seeds sprout, birds wake up and chirp, animals go in search of their food and human beings go about their multifarious activities.From dawn to dusk, activities happen and the sun simply watches without comment or with no extra or special interest towards one or the other.

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