Five differences between PratibimbAnanda and BimbAnanda

श्री गुरुभ्यो नमः

On commenting the famous “na antah prajnam .. ” verse from Mandukya Upanishad, Swami ParamArthAnandaji explained the five differences between ‘reflected happiness’ or PratibimbAnanda (which is the commonly experienced pleasurable state of mind) and bimbAnanda (which is the original swaroopa of the Atman). Most of the text is from Swamiji’s talk. A few words in the brackets [..] have been added by me to make the context more clear. The very rough mnemonic – P.A.G.E.S is added by me to facilitate memory.

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1. [Place of Ananda] PratibimbAnanda belongs to Anandamaya Kosha [KAraNa sharira], whereas bimbAnanda belongs to AtmA itself, it is AtmAnanda.

2. [Arrival/Departure] PratibimbAnanda is subject to arrival and departure, because the reflection can happen only when the mind is in a conducive condition, otherwise the reflection cannot happen. Therefore pratibimbAnanda is subject to arrival and departure, i.e., it is impermanent Ananda. Whereas, bimbAnanda, the original Ananda, is not subject to arrival and departure – it is nityAnanda.

3. [Gradation] PratibimbAnanda is subject to gradation – priyah, modah and pramodah, or in Taittriya Upanishad, manushyAnanda, gandharvAnanda, etc. indicating that it has gradation or shAdhishayam [comparison, more and less, is possible]. Whereas bimbAnanda is not subject to gradation, it is niratishayam.

4. [Experiential] PratibimbAnanda can be experienced by us, it is available for objectification, just as our reflected face can be perceived on a mirror. That is why we keep a mirror wherever possible (laughs). Why do we keep them? Because the reflected face can be experienced. Whereas the original Ananda cannot be experienced, just our original face cannot be experienced (one has to meditate on this). Our only satisfaction is that we can see the reflection and understand, discern the original [face], but never experience the original. Therefore the fourth difference is that the PratibimbAnanda is experiential, called samvedyam in Sanskrit, while the original Ananda is non-experiential, asamvedyam. BimbAnanda is not available for experience, but it is only available for claiming “I am BimbAnanda”, just as the original face is not available for experience, but one can claim it, saying “This is my face”.

5. [Sources of Anandas] PratibimbAnanda can be attained by two methods, one method is vishaya-dvAra, and another method is vairAgya-dvAra. By acquiring sense-objects, you can get pratibimbAnanda. There is also an alternate method [to obtain PratibimbAnanda], that is by sheer vairAgyam. By practising detachment and contentment one can get the same PratibimbAnanda. In the Taittriya Upanishad, while talking about higher Anandas of higher lokAs, the Upanishad says that the same Ananda gained by devagandharva [a being with a celestial body in a higher loka], can be got by a human being on this earth by practising detachment and contentment – shrotriyasya cha akaamahatasya [a phrase from the Upanishad indicating the mentioned meaning]. Thus PratibimbAnanda can be got through sense-objects or contentment. You can choose either of them. However, getting sense-objects is an expensive affair, whereas contentment requires no expenditure. The only expenditure required is a little thinking, a little viveka you use, you can get contentment [the thinking/viveka here is that the pratibimbAnanda comes with lot of doshas/issues like temporality, conditionality, gradation leading to jealousy, greed, etc. Therefore it is better to be content with whatever one has already and be detached from the ‘need’ for sense-objects]. That contentment gives PratibimbAnanda. BimbAnanda on the other hand can be got only by one method. That is [Atma] jnAnam; only through [Atma] jnAnam one can claim that “I am BimbAnanda”.

These five differences should be noted, as they are useful not only ‘vedantically’ but also for practical life.

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