Question 220 – 222: The removal of Ignorance

The removal of IgnoranceThe young Rama has many questions. With patience, Guru Vasishtha explains that perception of the Universe, the body, desires and illusions, pain and suffering are all due to ignorance. Ignorance is removed only by intense effort, contemplation of the Atma. Wisdom – jnana – is the removal of ignorance.


vasana: tendencies or desires

anatma: unreal; opposite of Atma
anatma: different from the soul
anatma: not the spirit nor soul

abhokta: (abhukta) uneaten; unenjoyed, unused, unexpended; one who has not eaten, enjoyed or expended

Brahm-satta the potency of Brahman

vichar Hin. vichara San. m. deliberation, thought, reflection, pondering; discrimination, examination, self-enquiry: ‘Who am I?’

atmavichar: contemplation of atma


Question 220: Sir, what is the cause of ignorance and how is it destroyed?

Answer: Ramji, desire is the cause of ignorance. Wisdom does not arise until desire is destroyed, and spiritual knowledge is the remedy for the malady of desire. The mind becomes quiescent with spiritual discipline and contemplation. All illusions and desires (vasanas) vanish when consciousness becomes non-ideational.

Question 221: Sir, what happens to a person who cognises the self in the unreal (anatma) and has not attained direct knowledge of the Atma?

Answer: Ramji, such a person is tortured by such enemies as the senses. There is no relationship between the body and Atma, both are of diverse nature. Atma is truth, flawless, stainless, non-doer and non-indulgent (abhokta). The body is inert, unreal, insignificant, destructible and of the nature of ignorance. There is no relationship between these two and their association is cognised due to ignorance. This idea of association vanishes with the attainment of non-dual knowledge. Atma does not imbibe the attributes of a body because Atma is of the nature of wisdom, knowledge. Atma is consciousness and the body is gross; there can be no bond between the two.

Ramji, you are the embodiment of the divine Atma (Atmaswaroop) and not a body. Why do you accept sufferings by associating yourself with the body? It is an illusion to believe that Atma is happy or unhappy due to the pleasures or pains of a body. Atma is beyond joy, sorrow, dotage, death and the ideas of being and non-being. An individual attains high or low birth when he has the body-ego. In reality there is neither birth nor death; it is only the potency of Brahman (Brahm-satta) that is flawless, established in itself. Ignorant persons are always wandering with desires (vasana) and are not established in the Self, ie., they are not established in their embodiment of the Atma (Atmaswaroop) and they adopt diverse bodies in accordance with their actions, or, they wander in the cycle of rebirths.

Question 222: Sir, how does the world, that is an illusion, appear real?

Answer: Ramji, the universe appears real due to ignorance. When an individual is overtaken by ignorance, desires arise and then these are followed by lust, anger, greed and attachment. But when ego is annihilated with the force of spiritual practice, then discrimination and self-inquiry grow, and ignorance disappears gradually. Ignorance is the cause of all sufferings of a person, and it stays until contemplation of the Atma (atmavichar) is developed. But then, after intense practice, contemplation of the Atma arises and ignorance vanishes. It is ignorance which assumes the forms of pleasures and sufferings and an individual accordingly experiences pleasures and severe miseries; it is ignorance in both states. Ignorance continues to grow until discrimination (viveka) and contemplation (vichara) are developed with practice. This ignorance, also called lack of knowledge (avidya), manifests itself as diverse forms of a universe. All things – from a tiny amoeba to Brahma – are illusory and are aspects of ignorance.

Ramji, all that is perceived is maya or an aspect of ignorance.


Each one is the repository of Divine Might, of the Imperishable Atma. Contacting this Reality is the prime purpose of life, but this is neglected; precious days are spent in inferior pursuits. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa bewailed every night that one more day had gone by without His being able, by His prayers, to visualise the Mother as a living loving Mother. That is the yearning that man must cultivate, not the competitive greed for sensory pleasures that are false and fleeting. Man must engage himself in such tasks as will confer on him peace and lasting joy. Man must examine for himself the merits of various activities, and choose only such as will benefit him. He desires peace and cultivates worry and anxiety. Planting a lime tree, he hopes to get mangoes from it! This is sheer ignorance or wilful blindness, or the result of misguidance. Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol 6, Angam and Lingam, 9/3/1967


The removal of Ignorance


Hamsa Gayatri
Om Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Paramahamsaya Dheemahi
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayat

“May we realise Hamsa that is our own Self as the Swan. Let us meditate on that Paramahamsa, the Supreme Self. May Hamsa illumine us.”

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